By Coach KB
Nobody freak out… I know it is not even October yet but I’m going to say it… The holiday season is coming. I love this time of year. Despite the corporate strong-hold on much of the holiday spirit, I still think that our focus on friends and family and good fortune reigns. You might think that, as a gym-owner, I would also love this season because I know just one month later, come January, people are stressed, engorged on holiday cheer (aka cookies), and ready to come out of their winter hibernation and into the gym. This couldn’t be further from the truth. (Do not misinterpret - I want anyone to show up at POINT on any day of the year they want to, be it in January, June, or any day before, after, or in between.) But what my hope would be is that the approaching season would be one of happiness, joy, balance, health, and yes, some “holiday cheer.”
So, while the time gets short on us with after-work parties, Friday night potlucks, and weekend shopping excursions, come in with a game-plan for how to remain healthy and sane so you can enjoy your time with loved ones over the next three months. Here are four things I try to do all year, but especially focus on during October, November, and December to stay committed to my health even when I seem to be juggling thrice as many things as I usually do.
EAT WELL! Easier said than done during this season, I know, but “they say” the foods we eat account for about 80% of our health and well-being. The other 20% will be my other 3 tips but let me tell you what - eating well does not mean that you can’t have cookies (remember holiday cheer?). It just means that you need to make choices in favor of your health during the times you are not eating cookies. Now, this does not work if you eat cookies at every meal or even every day! But rest-assured, if 79% of what you eat is good quality veggies, meats, nuts, fruits, and grains, then surely 1% of the time you can eat cookies.* The percentage should not be too much off from that though - our food affects our mood, our sleep, our stress, our focus… all the areas of our life needed to remain calm during chaotic times. Really and truly enjoy all your holiday parties but remember you really and truly deserve to be happy and healthy all 12 months of the year. Put that energy into your food.
*For perspective - If we spent our waking hours eating, 1% would be about a solid 10 minutes devoted solely to eating cookies each day… 1% is enough!
SLEEP WELL! Some nights of the week when there are parties it will be difficult to get a full eight hours of good sleep. Even if we are able to be in bed for that amount of time we often don’t sleep well on those nights due to sugar, alcohol, overeating, and general excitement. This makes it all the more important to prioritize sleep on those other nights. Much like food, sleep affects our mood, our stress, our focus, and, if you can believe it, the types of food we crave. Set a bedtime schedule. Even if you are unable to be asleep by an earlier hour, commit to at least being in bed by that time. Due to my personal schedule I rarely have trouble falling asleep when I get into bed but some of you may want to have a book ready (pro tip… a boring book is a great tool to have on your nightstand). Other people I know use this time in bed before they are ready to sleep to meditate. If you have a partner (or let’s be honest, even if you don’t), going to bed before you are ready to sleep can also be a great time to nourish *that* part of your relationship and prepare you for a good night’s sleep. ;)
MOVE WELL! We love what we do in the gym - it is great training to support what you do during the rest of your day. But, the bottom line is, our bodies are meant to move pretty much all day long until we sleep. The tricky puzzle is how we can coordinate this into our work schedules when most of our jobs require us to be seated all day. Or do they? First, take a tip from smokers - they take a couple breaks from work and go outside for 10 minutes or so. If your cube-buddy is a smoker, leave when she does and take a walk around the block while she stands outside to smoke. Have a small group meeting? Suggest taking a walking meeting, even if you just walk down the street to the coffee shop to meet and then walk back. Otherwise, while you are staring blankly at your screen, remember our brains really only have the capacity to focus on one thing for 10-20 minutes, anyway, so stand up every 15 minutes or so and walk down to the water fountain and take a drink (we need more water anyway!) or go to the bathroom (who cares if you actually have to go! … you can practice your power poses or text a friend just to say hi while you are hiding in the stall) or just walk outside for a second for a breath of fresh air and come back in… You can even just stand up and sit back down… Just don’t sit on your butt for longer than 15 minutes.
While I think prioritizing time for yourself to come to the gym is important, also remember that coming to the gym is not the only thing that is considered “exercise” in life. All movement is a form of “exercise.” If you are too busy to come to the gym because you are hosting a party, it is likely you will be cleaning your house. Work quickly to get your heartrate up and then BOOM! All of a sudden you have “exercised” and cleaned your house at the same time! If you are out shopping, speed walk between shops. Don’t just let your dogs outside so they can “do their business;” take them for a brisk walk. Don’t sit out of the touch football game at on Thanksgiving because it’s too cold out or you are too old - get out and play! Are there little kids around? Turn on the music and have a dance party or play red-light-green-light or give each kid a few spins in the air! You will not only be the fun cousin/aunt/uncle but you will also teach kids that movement is fun and awesome (trust me, I know this is one is especially exhausting, but suck it up and do it - you will feel better and make connections with other humans, which is really what this season is all about.)
THINK WELL! Really this just means having a positive attitude about things. When you have a million things to do in your life and you would rather be doing 999,999 of them instead of the one you have to do that night, you have got to figure out how you can think about it in a way that doesn’t involve “ruining your life.” If your initial thought about something is dread, you HAVE to reframe your mindset. Hate your in-laws? Consider how much they mean to your partner (even if they annoy him/her too!) and consider it an opportunity to support him/her and practice your diplomacy skills for when you need them at work or other times in your life. Does your office do a Secret Santa each year (seriously, kill me now)... Suggest that instead of getting presents for each other you adopt a family in need and get them some things instead. If that doesn’t fly then be happy you can take the crummy gift you get from Jim in IT to the stupid white-elephant party you have at your neighbor’s house the next night. ;)
And ultimately, realize that all of these things you “have” to do are actually choices you are making. You do not HAVE to do anything so pick the ones that are the most important and the ones you really want to do and decide about the rest. If you are only doing them for FOMO or because of what you think people will think of you if you opt out, choose your happiness and sanity over their judgement.
That’s it! Four ways to have a happy, joyful, balanced, and healthy season… and still maintain your “holiday cheer!” Ho Ho Ho!