Holiday Health Tips You Can Actually Use

This month, every women’s magazine and blog has tips on how to survive the holidays with your waistline intact, or your skinny jeans on your booty, or whatever.  They offer the same old advice every year, and I find it kind of depressing.  Mildly insulting, too.  Mix your booze with diet soda, fill up on low calorie veggies, enjoy lighter versions of your favorite holiday foods, blah blah blah.

I know that the writers of these pieces mean well, but my weight issues were a beast that couldn’t be tamed by simply eating off of a small plate to control portion sizes and substituting lowfat sour cream.  These basic Dieters 101 tips are ineffective for most of us because they provide half-assed ways of dealing with symptoms.  I am more interested in curing the underlying issues of holiday overeating, so the symptoms can fall away naturally.

Why This Time of Year Might Make You Feel Loony

The holidays come at a cold, dark time of the year.  You’re already craving comfort food much more so than you do in July.  Most likely, your belly is asking to be filled with a little more passion than usual – it wants to be warm! 

 Add to that a calendar full of social engagements, possibly with family that stresses you out.   

 On top of that, you’ve got financial pressure.  Unless you live in a hole with all forms of media silenced, there are messages everywhere for you to show the people in your life how much you love them by spending your money on products for them. 

To finish it all off and make you feel extra inadequate: every movie, song, and commercial is reminding you that you’re slightly nuts for having these feelings. This is supposed to be the happiest time of the year!

It’s no wonder you find yourself face first in the French Onion dip!

Don’t fear, honey.  I’m going to talk to you about easy, natural ways to take care of yourself over the next six weeks.  This way you can start 2012 feeling healthy and strong, rather than feeling like you have to go on some crazy kale cleanse to recover from months of abuse.

Survival Tips for Your Bod

Be selective about your indulgences.  It saves calories, yes.  But even more importantly, it sends your body a loving message.  It says, “Body, I am willing to be snobby for you.  I won’t stuff you full of stale potato chips just because I’ve run out of questions to ask my boss’ wife at the company holiday party.  You deserve better than that.”  Unless stale potato chips are your thing, of course.  No judgment here, I love pigs in a blanket.

Don’t abandon your diet and exercise goals for the holiday season, modify them to make them achievable.  For example, I never even try to exercise the week between Christmas and the New Year.  I make an effort to eat more green veggies at my non-party meals than I do the rest of the year.

I know that those parameters don’t sound admirable to the hardcore, but the net positive effect (especially on your mind!) is so much better for succeeding at modest goals than it would be to attempt to go all Miss Health & Fitness USA and fail miserably.

You know that “Oh, the whole day’s blown anyway” feeling that can often precede a binge?  This tip helps you to avoid a possible “Oh, the whole season is blown anyway” feeling that would lead you to eat your face off at every holiday get together between now and January because that’s when you’ll start being “good”.

It feels so much nicer to think about what you can add to feel good rather than what you need to take away to keep from feeling bad.  Make sure you have plenty of water, sleep, and vitamins.  These three guys will help you fight cravings and hangovers. They’ll also keep you from waking up all bloated with a tongue that feels like it’s coated in salty fur.

Survival Tips for Your Mind and Heart

Set aside some time for reflecting on the lessons of the past year and setting your intentions for the year ahead.  I know that the outside world is pressuring you to make your last two months of the year into hustle and bustle central.  Your soul doesn’t care as much about that, and it would like some peace and quiet.  Give yourself a little space each day to process your feelings and you’ll be less tempted to stuff them down with food.

Being selective isn’t just for food choices.  Please be a little snobby about your holiday social choices, too.  You can choose to only attend social gatherings of people whose company you truly enjoy.  You can politely say no to the events that don’t feel good to you and save your energy for the ones that do.

Make an effort to look your best.  I’ve always found that if I spend a bunch of time lovingly preparing a meal, I don’t have the desire to binge on it.  The same principle applies to time spent caring for your physical appearance, even in a small way like using a new type of makeup or spending a few extra minutes on your hair.

You’ll feel really phenomenal, which in turn makes you more confident and likely to engage with others and life.  The more engaged you are with others and life, the less appealing it seems to stuff pumpkin pie in your mouth until you pass out.

Key Points to Remember

  • This is a whacky time of year
  • Don’t beat yourself up if your food intake is a little different than usual – be flexible in your definition of success
  • Focus on adding habits that take such good care of your physical and emotional health that they curb the desire to overeat
  • Focus less on going all nitpicky for exactly what you’ll eat and how much.

What are some other easy ways you can think of to take good care of your health over the next six weeks?  Have a beautiful Thanksgiving, friends!

24 Responses to Holiday Health Tips You Can Actually Use
  1. [...] stand by my post from last year about taking care of yourself during the holiday season.  Today I’m going to get a little more practical and talk to you about recipes that strike a [...]

  2. Greek Meat Sauce | Your Full Plate
    November 29, 2011 | 4:58 am

    [...] tugging at your brain, please take a deep breath and upon exhaling let it the fuck go.  Read my Holiday Health Tips You Can Actually Use one more time.  Give yourself whatever you need to tap into the strength to be kind to yourself [...]

  3. Ellie Di
    November 25, 2011 | 10:13 am

    HEARTS! The holidays wrack me with food guilt, and my damn pants are mocking me in preparation. Thanks for these reminders, dear.

    • Marla
      November 27, 2011 | 5:38 pm

      Hearts back at you, thanks Ellie!!! I’m so happy if I can play any part in getting your pants to keep their mouth shut (what? You know what I mean).

  4. Tanja
    November 24, 2011 | 3:28 am

    Fanfreakin’tastic post, Marla! I seem to have got pretty good over the last couple of years at NOT binge-ing during the holidays… I may eat more than normal, but I do it (mostly) in a way that lets me actually acknowledge and enjoy what I’m eating… which means I’m way more likely to stop eating when I stop enjoying.

    That said, I don’t stop exercising (or at least, I haven’t the past couple of years – who knows whether this year will be the same?). But that’s not because “I need to exercise off all the bad things I’ve eaten” (or not more than a little bit anyway). Rather it’s because “exercise makes my body feel good” and “exercise helps to keep me sane!” So it’s something I do to feel good and to be good to myself… which I think is even more critical than usual at this time of year!

    Thanks for a great post!

    • Marla
      November 27, 2011 | 5:41 pm

      Tanja, you’re fanfreakin’tastic! I am right there with you. I also definitely eat more than normal both in quantity and richness during the holiday season, but I totally agree that by accepting it and enjoying it it is a totally different experience. I had the exact same thought about exercising this Thanksgiving weekend, too – I actually worked out a lot, but it was definitely because I had lots of stagnant energy I needed to break up rather than to work off the mashed potatoes. :) I always love your comments, thanks so much for coming by!

  5. Melissa
    November 23, 2011 | 2:40 pm

    Hey Marla,

    Great post and great tips. Thank you so much for providing such useful information!

    XO
    M

    • Marla
      November 23, 2011 | 4:01 pm

      Thanks for reading and being such a great bloggy supporter, honey. xoxo

  6. Faeriedaughter
    November 23, 2011 | 12:26 pm

    Great Post!My big beef with womens magazines and blogs re. foody diety exercisy stuff is that it’s only ever offered in the sense of “Eat like this to stay skinny” or “Eat like this to have a sexy tummy for the new year!” Ugh. Enough with the body hatred. If you want to find an exercise DVD or magazine because you want to be stronger or be bendier, they will will usually only focus on loosing weight so we can be sexy and skinny. It really puts me off.
    Eat to make your body happy!

    • Marla
      November 23, 2011 | 4:07 pm

      It’s so effed up, honestly – I am all about body love and body acceptance and I catch myself ALL THE TIME equating thinness with beauty, which is just a socially conditioned load of horseshit. If we all stop reading them, eventually they’ll stop making them. Thanks for your great and thoughtful comment!

  7. Sara
    November 22, 2011 | 6:01 pm

    This is fabulous, Marla! Your golden nugget of taking pride in your appearance and how that translates to treating yourself and your body better is.. priceless!

    • Marla
      November 23, 2011 | 7:16 am

      Thanks Sara! I know, right – that’s actually my favorite tip too, because it has nothing to do with food! You’re priceless.

  8. Allurynn
    November 22, 2011 | 5:21 pm

    Wow, Marla, these are wonderful tips. They are realistic and totally doable, love them! Happy Holidays ♥

    • Marla
      November 22, 2011 | 5:52 pm

      Happy Holidays to YOU Allurynn and thank you! For me, doable is always the way to go. :)

  9. I love the reminder to nix the hustle and bustle bullying from commercials and everyone else, and satisfy your soul with quiet time. This season (winter) really is about being still and being fully rooted in yourself so you can look forward to and embrace the upcoming year.

    • Marla
      November 22, 2011 | 4:55 pm

      I know, right? Somehow we’ve gotten it all fucked up. I am way more prepared for this much activity in summer!

  10. tokyotutti
    November 22, 2011 | 11:33 am

    Love this post, well said. You’re exactly right about the magazines too.

    • Marla
      November 22, 2011 | 11:45 am

      Thanks, honey! I knew I wasn’t the only one who gets nothing out of those suggestions.

  11. Cat @Breakfast to Bed
    November 22, 2011 | 11:26 am

    I can’t resist deviled egg #94587. I just can’t.

    • Marla
      November 22, 2011 | 11:48 am

      Resist schmesist. Hope you enjoy your deviled eggs!

  12. Shirla Suero
    November 22, 2011 | 11:17 am

    Totally feel like I’m not alone. Thanks so much for sharing. Wishing you a Happy Holiday season.

    • Marla
      November 22, 2011 | 11:49 am

      You so aren’t alone! Very happy holidays to you too, love, and I hope to see you soon. xoxo

  13. Loran
    November 22, 2011 | 11:11 am

    These are great suggestions, Marla! They are doable too. Hopefully I can keep from face planting in the French Onion dip this year!

    • Marla
      November 22, 2011 | 11:52 am

      Thank you Loran! You can do it for sure! Together we will avoid faceplants this holiday season. xoxo

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HEY YOU!
I'm Marla Hamilton, and this is my blog. I write it because I want to make it very easy for you to feel healthy and great about yourself.Read more about me here.
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