The upcoming holiday season is thought of by many as the happiest time of the year. For some, it brings up worries about not being able to “stay” healthy due to overindulging during holiday festivities. It starts with Halloween. Trick or treaters bring bags full of candy into our homes and pick out their favorites to keep for themselves. The discards are often left for the taking…and some of us are unable to “just say no” like the campaign says. Then there is the leftover candy because not as many kids were out this year or maybe we overbought…not wanting to run out (or, more likely, not wanting it all to be gone when the lights go out).
Thanksgiving comes up quickly, when it is customary to overeat to the point of having to fight for the couch for that tryptophan snooze. Many of us cook more than we need because the leftovers can be even better than the first “go around”. By the end of the long Thanksgiving weekend, we may be dreading Christmas or Hanukkah since we know we are unlikely to be able to not overindulge in the sugary sweet treats that often accompany the season.
What if this year was different? What if you can stay healthy all the way through the holiday season and into the new year? What might it feel like to get to the new year having maintained or even lost a little weight? What might that feel like? This can be yours. And it doesn’t have to be as hard as you think.
There is no lack of information available on what the best way to lose weight. Unfortunately, so much is available and often there is conflicting material online and in the bookstore. We become confused and just stay with what we know whether it has worked for us in the past or not. Harry S. Truman many years ago said, “If you can’t convince them, confuse them”. This is very true in the diet and nutrition world as we know it today.
There is another old saying that I recently read, “A man with a watch always knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never quite sure”. The more opinions we get, the more confused we are. So what do we do?
Learn what the science says. What I tell my clients is to listen to the information, read more about it, check resources (and if someone stands to make money by selling you a product or the latest miracle diet/drug/supplement, you may want to skip this opinion) and then check with your gut. What makes the most sense to you? What FEELS like it will lead to better health?
Most of us agree that eating your vegetables and fruits are a good thing. Did you know that a diet high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and nuts and seeds is the only diet proven to reverse heart disease? If it can prevent and reverse the #1 killer of Americans, how might eating these foods help you get through the holiday season and stay healthy?
Carbs are not the enemy!
Complex carbohydrates such as those found in vegetables feed our bodies its preferred fuel, glucose. It could be possible that you are craving sugary treats because you are not providing your body with the fuel it needs to thrive. Consider these helpful tips to get you through the holidays with a whole new experience…staying healthy without weight gain!
5 Tips for Healthful Holidays
Healthy food first – start with a salad with oil-free dressing, eat your veggies! Choose fruit to add some sweetness.
Rework your favorite recipes – Swap out oils with water, broths or vinegars for sautéing or steaming. Bake with fruit, date paste, flaxseeds or beans as sweeteners and fats.
Move your body! – This is great for your body and mind. Take a walk with a family member or neighbor, dance, do yoga. Moving your body is an excellent de-stressor!
Remember your “WHY” – What drives you to want to “stay healthy” over the holidays. Create an anchor to help you remember. This can be a bracelet or a body part. When you are faced with a challenge, touch your bracelet or your wrist and remember why you want better health. This may be helpful in making a healthier choice for yourself.
Shift your attention – If you are faced with a temptation, get out of the room. Go in another room and take some deep breaths or step outside and breath in fresh air. Shift the celebration from centering around food to centering around family and friends. Create an opportunity to help others during the holiday season. Giving is the best gift we can give ourselves and others.
Where do I go from here?
Taking a few minutes to consider how this holiday season might be different will serve you well as we move closer to 2024. You can create a whole new way of being during the holiday season. Getting the support you need makes all the difference. Consider hiring a coach to help you achieve your goals. Just like working with a personal trainer or a baseball coach, if you want to achieve your goals in the most effective way, partner with a health coach to achieve your health goals in the upcoming months.
Neuroplasticity - What's That?
Our brains are constantly changing…we ‘rewire’ our brains by doing a new behavior over and over. Most of what we do as humans is patterned…the way we do one thing is the way we do everything. We are creatures of habit and this is how we remember how to brush our teeth in the morning and how to drive a car…when we do these activities repeatedly, they become habits and we barely have to think about what we are doing because we have wired our brains to know how to do it without thinking. This can be a very good thing…or a not so good thing…depending on the behavior we are talking about.
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize and restructure all the way down to the cellular level. This helps us be adaptive to our experiences, our environment and to even relearn after damage to our brains. Our brains have millions of neurons and even the simplest things require interconnection between them. This all happens without us having to think of the steps in these tasks…our brain remembers through the neural connections that have been established over the years. There are two primary types of neuroplasticity…functional and structural. Functional neuroplasticity refers to permanent changes that occur from development and learning…hard to unlearn something you already know…Structural neuroplasticity refers to the strength of the connections…this is where the fun begins.
Our brains create memories from our experiences…and we all remember things just a little differently depending on our experiences…including good things and trauma, as well as our subconscious beliefs. Some of my clients have told me it’s hard to leave food on their plate because they were punished for not cleaning their plates as children. Many of our long standing habits were learned in childhood…good or again, not so good. When we are told something repeatedly, it’s becomes our truth. These beliefs and habits can get in our way when we try to make changes for our health. And, the good news is…we can rewire our neurons. We can create new habits by doing a new behavior over and over and over and over. Some call this the 10,000 hour rule. Do something 10,000 times and you get so good at it that you barely have to think about what you are doing…example, brushing your teeth or driving your car.
This is where coaching can be so helpful…learning new ways of being works best when you have support. The newest offering I am putting together is a mental fitness program…based on Positive Intelligence and learning how to rewire our brains to weaken the parts of our brains that no longer serve us and strengthening the parts that can take us to the place we want to be with our health and our habits. Stay tuned for more info. I am super excited to be sharing this experience with you all. I truly believe this is the way to sustainable change…knowledge is power and repetition is king!
The Health Up Pyramid
There are many food pyramids available online and in books. When I was reviewing these to find the one that resonated most with my idea of a Whole Food, Plant-Based way of eating, I had a hard time with parts of most of them. So I decided to create my own! The bottom tier of this food pyramid demonstrates where most of our foods should come from…vegetable and fruits. These are the mainstay of the healthiest diet on the planet. Moving up, you will see whole grain. This section is another cornerstone of eating a Whole Food, Plant-Based diet. Leafy greens and legumes (beans) come next These foods provide satiety and have some of the highest nutrient density. Research says we need to be eating these foods with every meal. Higher fat foods like avocado and nuts are limited for many of us, especially for those interested in losing weight. Herbs and spices are unlimited but are often eaten in small amounts (so they find their place at the top of the pyramid). These are encouraged and can be added to all the other food levels for added flavor and nutrient boost. Using this guide you will feed your body the fuel it needs to thrive!
If you’re a female and you feel like your heart beats quicker than your male counterparts, you’re not wrong. Women’s hearts are proven to beat faster than men’s.
As well as having faster heartbeats, women blink twice as much as men as well.