Thursday, December 5, 2013

Prepping for Christmas Before Thanksgiving Can Save Sanity

My husband is adamant that Christmas celebration or preparation does not occur until after you have eaten your pie on Thanksgiving. This includes decorating, baking, Christmas cards and shopping. He wouldn’t even enjoy the Christmas beer he bought until the pie sat in his stomach for 2 hours!
The preparation for the holidays can become very overwhelming for me. There are Christmas cards to send and decorating to be done (both at home and the office), baking to be done and delivered to the neighbors, Christmas presents to be bought and some that have to be shipped to our families in Iowa and Arizona. We have Christmas concerts to attend and lights to be viewed. I write a list of what needs to be done along with specific dates that task will be achieved. Honestly, there are a few years were I begin to dread the holidays and do not enjoy them at all because of everything “I need to do”! Every year I tell myself “it’s okay if you send cards late” (which I actually did one year for sanity reasons), “you don’t have to give cookies to the neighbors this year” and “don’t worry about presents for the grandparents” - but every year I bake the cookies and send the cards and the presents.
Christmas Day in itself is always a stress free day, especially the years we stay home and do not have to travel. We sleep late, maybe take a shower, eat soup for lunch and dinner and watch movies all day. So why is the time before Christmas so nerve-racking?
This year I gave myself a gift; I started my Christmas task list earlier! I ordered the cards at the beginning of November and started addressing them on Thanksgiving. I bought the presents for my husband’s parents in October and even bought a few for the children. Sophia and I decided to forget the cut-out frosted sugar cookies (which put me in tears every year as I have difficulty rolling out the dough) and bake something a little simpler for the neighbors.
My husband may not be a fan of starting Christmas before Thanksgiving, but if it means a few less tears from his wife, it may be worth breaking the rules. Happy Holidays and don’t be afraid to cut a job from your list when things get too stressful!

10 Tips to Avoid the Holiday Bulge

Thanksgiving marks the start of our holiday season (or it used to) and the start of holiday overeating! As we near the end of the year, you may start to think, “What does it matter if I gain a few extra pounds now? I can start the healthy habits January 1st.” What if you actually made just a few changes now to avoid the holiday bulge and form healthy habits before the calendar turns?

Here are my top 10 tips for avoiding the holiday bulge and getting a head start on the New Year:

1. Drink more water. The goal is to drink ½ your body weight in ounces of water or at least 8 – 8oz glasses of water per day.
2. Stop eating at least 2 hours before bed. This is the recommendation of most health research; however if you just can’t do that, some new studies suggest that eating a protein snack before bed might boost your metabolism. Regardless, definitely avoid ice cream!
3. Eat the highest calorie foods earlier in the day. A big meal at lunch is a better option than a large dinner. 
4. Eat a minimum of 6 servings of vegetables a day. Color in your diet is important and vegetables are essential. Remember, 1 serving equals 1 cup - not one baby carrot!
5. Eat more protein and fewer carbohydrates (such as breads, cookies, crackers, etc). Protein keeps you full longer by sustaining your blood sugar while the body burns through the carbohydrates quicker, causing blood sugar swings.
6. Limit your alcohol consumption. Alcohol often leads to the munchies.
7. Supplement with a whole food multi-vitamin. Too many of us have gaps in our nutritional plan that need to be filled with supplements. A lot of times when we cannot seem to get full and are always craving something, our body is looking for a particular vitamin that is lacking in our diet.
8. Take Vitamin D daily. Recent studies have shown that supplementing with vitamin D while reducing calorie intake accelerates weight loss. It is also a significant immune booster – nobody wants to be sick during the holidays!
9. Exercise! A minimum of 20 minutes of cardio 5 days a week keeps the metabolism going. If you currently workout more than that, you need to stay at the same activity level to keep off the extra pounds
10. SLEEP! If you can’t sleep, you can’t heal. Our bodies require 7-9 hours of restful sleep at night to allow the growth hormone to kick in and repair our cells from the stress of the day. Not only does loss of sleep stimulate appetite, but it also increases cravings for high-fat and high-carbohydrate foods.