Guest blogger Paige Johnson shares her guide to staying healthy over the holidays.  As a single parent it’s a priority for her, but we can all follow her advice.

holiday tablePhoto courtesy of Unsplash by Mel Turner

“I need to take better care of myself.” Be honest,  how many times have you had the exact same thought? This time of year means balancing your parental responsibilities with budgeting money for gifts and time for shopping. In addition, you probably have commitments with your family, friends and co-workers at various holiday events.

It’s no wonder why so many people become overwhelmed or even tempted to overindulge around the holidays. How can you stay healthy while still enjoying your holiday season? Luckily, it’s possible to find the time, energy, and money to stay healthy and in shape throughout the holidays.

Here’s what to do – and not do…

What to do:

Meal Prep

Preparing your meals ahead of time can help you avoid temptation so you can stay on the healthy track. Pick a specific day and time (such as a Sunday evening) when you know that you’ll be at home and will have time to devote to meal preparation. This is a great strategy for avoiding overeating at holiday parties. Of course, it can certainly be something you do each week in order to stay on track.

Combat Food Cravings

Of course, if you’re too busy to prep your meals, there are still plenty of ways you can be more mindful of your holiday eating habits. To avoid slipping into unhealthy food and beverage choices this holiday, Harvard’s School of Public Health recommends avoiding salt and sugar, especially in processed foods.

When food cravings kick in, especially if you’re an emotional eater, try replacing candy with fruits and try replacing salty foods with low-sodium options like unsalted nuts. If you’re stressed, try going for a walk or doing some mindful breathing rather than reaching for food to calm your nerves.

Practice Self-Care

Recent studies have linked stress eating, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and mood changes to weight gain during the holiday season. In each of these situations, proper self-care can help you resist the urge to overeat. As mentioned above, mindful activities such as breath work, meditation, a walk in nature, or doing yoga can all help you care for yourself, in turn reducing stress without adding extra calories, salt, or sugar.

Schedule Workouts

Block off a time slot on your busy schedule for exercise and fitness – and don’t allow yourself to schedule any other appointments during this time. For instance, you might work out first thing in the morning while your little ones are still asleep – or during the afternoon while they are still at daycare. Having trouble staying motivated? Find a workout buddy or partner with a co-worker (preferably another parent) for a monthly weight loss challenge.

What to avoid:

Drugs and Alcohol

It can be difficult to resist temptations during the holidays. Many people feel stressed and triggered during this time of year. It doesn’t help that alcohol plays a prominent role in so many holiday parties.  Enjoy in moderation, unless you’re in a recovery program.  In that case,  continue to stay focused and remain on track, including attending AA meetings, throughout the holidays. If you feel triggered, soothe yourself using coping methods such as yoga, meditation, taking a hot bath, or even spending some time in nature (weather permitting). These proven methods will help you resist cravings and overcome triggers so you can have a safe, healthy and sober holiday.

Food FOMO

As strength coach, Molly Galbraith, says, “Eating past full is not fun.” Although it can be tempting to feast upon all of the delicious seasonal or holiday-themed foods and beverages that you can only consume this time of the year, avoid overeating. Instead of getting caught in the trap of food FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), try to limit yourself. Eat slowly so you can savor each bite.

Your health should be a priority year-round. By following the advice listed above, we can all make healthier choices this holiday season – and every day of the year.

For more fitness and healthy lifestyle tips from Paige Johnson check out her website at: learnfit.org  

Bikini Season. Helpful Fitness Tips

With summer here, especially in the humid tropics, that means Bikini season.  I pretty much live, eat, and work in my swim suit daily with quick swims and long walks along the beach.  I’m able to run and do some yoga poses daily, but finding time to exercise and eat healthy it not always easy.  Guest blogger, Paige Johnson offers this advice.

4 Nutrition and Fitness Tips for Busy People

Being a hardworking professional and busy parent often means that you put your nutrition and fitness last. While it can be difficult to find ways to be healthy while you’re trying to squeeze everything you have to do into 24 hours, there are some ways to fit healthy habits into your busy lifestyle. We share four nutrition and fitness tips for busy people below so that you can work on your health throughout the year.

smoothie

Image via Pixabay by skeeze

  1. Prepare Breakfast Smoothies Ahead of Time

Most busy people skip breakfast because there is so much to do in the morning before you head out the door to drop off kids at school or make it to the office on time. The problem is, skipping breakfast is an unhealthy habit that you should break as soon as possible. Research shows that skipping breakfast can increase women’s risk of diabetes, cause hypertension and insulin resistance, elevate blood sugar, increase the risk of heart disease in men, and impair cognitive function related to memory.

If you want to eat breakfast but don’t because you don’t think you have time to make something, try preparing smoothies for your morning meal ahead of time. Begin by cleaning and freezing fruit such as berries and bananas that you can pop into your blender in the morning with Greek yogurt and whichever liquid you prefer. Some people opt for milk, juice, coconut water, or almond milk. If you don’t think you’ll have time to blend your smoothie in the morning, you can make it the night before, freeze it, and allow it to thaw on your commute so you’ll have a cold smoothie to enjoy throughout the morning.

  1. Find a Workout Buddy

If you work in an office, find a co-worker to be your workout buddy who will walk with you during a break or your lunch time. It’s worth noting that walking during lunch does not mean that you should skip eating lunch; rather, you should use your lunch time to go for a walk and then eat a healthy lunch at your desk. If you work from home or are a busy parent, find a neighbor or fellow stay-at-home parent who will walk with you while your child sleeps in the stroller or who will work out with you in your living room while your children play or nap together. You’ll stay more accountable if you know someone else is counting on you for workout time.

  1. Schedule Your Workout Time

If you cannot stick to a lunchtime walking routine or have trouble making a workout a habit, pencil it into your schedule just as you would a meeting or appointment. You need to make your health a priority, so put yourself on your schedule by blocking out at least four 30-minute exercise times per week. You may have to find a schedule that works best for you and be flexible, but commit to penciling in workout sessions for a month to help develop fitness habits. You may find more time on the weekend or in the early evening. You also may realize that you can jog laps around a baseball field while your kid has practice or that you can climb the stairs in your building or do lunges while checking email.

  1. Audit Your Time to Find a Few Extra Minutes Each Day

You may find that you actually have more time than you thought for preparing healthy meals and working out when you audit your time. When you look at your day, you may discover that you are wasting time checking email frequently throughout the day instead of taking care of it in a few large chunks. Or, you may be losing more minutes to social media and web surfing than you realized. When you truly audit your time, you will identify time sinks that you can schedule at another time or avoid altogether. Be as productive as possible during timed segments of your day to free up some time for healthy behaviors.

Even the busiest of people need to make time to develop and maintain healthy habits. You can do so throughout the year by preparing breakfast smoothies ahead of time, finding a workout buddy, scheduling workout time, and auditing your time to find a few extra minutes each day for healthy activities. Nutrition can help you overcome all kinds of obstacles, including those related to mental health.

Paige Johnson loves offering her advice on weight lifting and strength training on learnfit.org

 

 

Changing habits and thoughts

positive-2For the new year I decided to change several habits and unproductive thoughts, so my future self would thank me. I set in place a process of observations, restrictions, daily mantras and just simply paying attention to my thoughts, feelings and actions. This I found entertaining and enlightening, and I recommend it for everyone.

meditate-1Keep in mind this is a year-long process of changing behaviors that no longer serve me.  Eliminate tobacco dependence, meditate daily, get rid of prejudgment or expectations and establish an open positive mindset in every situation.

The other day I went out for my daily run, and my iPhone was broken which meant no music or audiobook for the duration.  I took it as an opportunity to listen to my inner voice.  I blocked out any to-do lists, background noise, day-dreaming or musings.  I just paid attention to my surroundings.

I’ve always known people stare at me while running, and I usually ignore it or get a bit defensive.  But on this day I decided to look back and smile at any gazers.  Maybe it’s just admiration, I thought.

An older man slowed down and leaned out the window.  “How far do you run.” he asked.

“Oh, five miles.  Give or take.”

“Damn, that’s impressive. I see you running all over town.”

I smiled, “See you around.” and then continued jogging.

Check your filter, I reminded myself.  I think of it as a lens we look through daily.  If my lens is open and clear, then the experience will be as well.  If my lens is jaded or skeptical, then it affects my perception of the incident.

Back in my neighborhood, I heard a continuous hum and looked up to a drone hovering above.  Oh, just a kid playing with his toy, I thought.  Until it followed me down the street, and over to the next.  Oh, hell no.

Start with an open clear lens, but always use other clues if it could lead to a dangerous or uncomfortable situation. Intuition, common sense, visual clues and awareness help complete the picture.

positive-2Changing habits is not an easy task, I’ve heard it takes three months for a bad habit to be broken or a new habit to develop. With over a third of the way to developing better habits, I’m doing pretty good. The best way to tackle the task is one day at a time. For me I like thinking positive sayings such as:

 

  • You can’t accomplish anything until you try.
  • Trust the process
  • If you fall, get back up and try again.
  • Get rid of what no longer serves you.
  • You can’t and can’t until you can.

Do you have a favorite positive phrase to keep you focused?positive

What’s your word for 2016?

I saw an news story last week about a company posting a challenge, pick one word representing your life or the positive changes you want to happen over the next year.  It can only be one word, and this word becomes your focus for the new year.  Their website sells jewelry as a trendy reminder of your commitment and they offer other products for inspiration.

positive 5I like this idea, and it has roots in the older practice of Buddhism and different forms of yoga and meditation.  For the past few years every morning before getting out of bed, I pick a mantra.  A positive word or a phrase to think about daily.  I write it on my apple-shaped chalkboard in the kitchen as a reminder.  I find myself repeating some basic mantras.

 

gratefulDuring the holidays, grateful comes up often. I am grateful for…,  I insert different things throughout the day.  Thankful and blessed, also flood my mind this time of year.

 

mindfulBe mindful consistently comes up as one of my mantras throughout the year.  What is mindfulness?  It’s observing your own thoughts, feelings and actions.  We often react without thinking or really knowing why.  In our busy lives, many of us are on autopilot. Mindfulness is the state of being conscious and in the present moment. Without judgement you simply scan your internal monologue, associated feelings, and surrounding environment.

Other words I’ve used this year include: strength, compassion, love, kindness, success, health, peace and various phrases to enrich my life and those around me.  If I had to chose just one word, it would be mindfulness, because it’s such a powerful word and practice. At times it seems almost impossible to achieve full awareness, but I’ve come a long way.  I’ve also experienced the proven physical and mental benefits of positive thinking, and living in the present. That doesn’t mean don’t plan for the future or share memories of the past, just take time for the present moment.

positive 4

So what’s your word or phrase for the new year?  Use that word to guide you over the next year and it’s never too soon to begin. Continue reading