Tag: Christmas and holiday season

Stay-cation or vacation, just make it an active one!

Stay-cation or vacation, just make it an active one!

Sorry for the almost-a-month long hiatus.  I took a short break to spend time with family over the holidays, enjoy some relaxation, and go on vacation with my boyfriend to Europe.  Our time in Europe was quite lovely and what I liked most about it was that it was an active vacation!  After walking mile after magnificent mile going from place to place in Europe I realized how much I absolutely love it there.  I have always dreamed of having a job where I can either walk, bike, or bike/walk to work.  That is something that was a majority in Europe (biking and walking everywhere and by everywhere I literally do mean everywhere, everywhere, everywhere 😉 ) and is probably one reason why you don’t see many, if any, obese people there.  I would say Americans could learn a thing or two from them!  I found it to be refreshing and fun, and a little exhausting, too!  My point is that whether you go on a vacation like me or enjoy a stay-cation at home remember that you can always make it an active vacation, which is my favorite kind!  You can go to Europe where staying active will not only be easy, but also unavoidable 😉 You can go on a beach vacation and take walks or jogs along the beach or you can go on a mountain vacation and go skiing.  Just remember that when you go on vacation, don’t just throw your workout out the window.  Consider small workouts, walks, and exercise routines that will keep you moving.  If you’re enjoying a stay-cation, consider hikes, organizing and cleaning to keep you busy, or other small routines that keep you active.

Once I got home and gave myself a few days to recover from the vacation and get back into the correct time zone after the jet lag, I got myself right back into my workout routine.  The week I would be starting back my workouts just happened to be Christmas week, but after taking 9 days off it was important to get myself back into the groove of life.  I got up Christmas morning and decided to hit the workout room before any Christmas festivities got under way.  Plus, all my Christmas fun is typically on Christmas Eve.  Anyway, back to this Christmas workout when my mom decides to semi-jokingly and semi-sarcastically say, “You just have to workout, don’t you?”  As if somewhat sickened, yet proud that I hold the will and motivation to workout on Christmas Day when many people do not hold the same discipline or expectations.  I know she knew in her mind that either way no matter what that I was going to workout because we had no plans or restrictions that would prevent me from fitting in a quick 30 to 40 minute workout.  Not to mention, for me, it is important to stay true to myself and my health, meaning I make it a priority even during the holiday season.  As I expressed to my mom, it’s the time of year when we all tend to eat a little more, eat a little less healthy, and eat until we feel like we might pop because we are so full.

My point?  Remember that you should try to keep the promises you make to yourself and goals you have for yourself, even during the holiday season.  That means sticking to your workouts, taking walks, and doing short exercise routines in-between holiday parties, festivities, etc so your friends and family understand that health is very important to you.  This keeps you in your normal routine and rhythm so that come January you are already in your same workout routine and schedule rather than taking a long hiatus from Thanksgiving through the New Year when you eat more calories and can easily slip into the winter slumber of not working out.  If you take a hiatus be prepared for a difficult time when you start back up again.  It makes it that much harder to get back into the swing of things, get your body and routine back in sync, and fulfill new resolutions that you should have never given up or done away with for a month to begin with.   Don’t feel guilty if this is what you did, but consider making changes next year  to keep your healthy lifestyle routine all year round!

So whether you are going on vacation, enjoying a stay-cation, or intertwining the two as I did during my holiday season, make it an active one that keeps you moving, gets you going, and helps you maintain a healthy lifestyle in the process!

Happy New Year, may 2015 be the year for exercising, good eating, and healthy lifestyle choices for you and yours!


New Year, New Goals, New Rules aka Accountability

New Year, New Goals, New Rules aka Accountability

Hooray for a new year!  Hooray for 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and so!  Hooray for new goals!  One thing that I love is setting goals for myself that are challenging and rewarding.  Rather than making new resolutions in January every year I typically have goals each month for myself throughout the entire year.  They can be simple goals such as setting a Christmas budget for myself in September, jotting down all the ideas I have for people on my Christmas list in October, and then finishing my Christmas shopping by the end of the first week in November.  Further, rather than setting “negative” goals and resolutions I try to set goals that have a “positive” spin.  So rather than setting a goal of losing weight, I would set a goal of eating healthier.  For example, set a goal of eating out for lunch once a week and eating an apple with peanut butter or caramel with your lunch so your goal doesn’t become dreaded and can easily be incorporated with your typical lunch routine.

Weight and eating resolutions are typical goals every year, but all too often these resolutions fail, not because the person doesn’t try or doesn’t care, but because the person loses motivation when he/she doesn’t see instant results or becomes wrapped up in the chaos of daily life.  While I know it is not New Year’s yet, there’s no perfect time to set new goals or resolutions for yourself.  Rather than putting off what you can start today, make a plan, set your goals, and make yourself accountable for what you want to accomplish.  One of my favorite sayings to remember is, “Why wait until tomorrow when you can start or do it today?”

So, rather than waiting until January to make a plan because you just want to “get through the holidays” aka eating the scrumptious candies and desserts and the exhaustion of finishing your Christmas shopping consider making yourself accountable during the holidays so you don’t feel so guilty in January.  Many people feel guilty in January because of all the food, chaos, and stress from the holiday season.  Then once New Year’s rolls around, people make resolutions to help make up for it.  The problem with this is that we often tend to make goals that are unattainable in order to fill the gaps and inefficiencies from the holidays.

My suggestion is to START NOW!  Happy day, month, and year of positive goals and accountability.  Change starts now, not tomorrow, not next week or next month or next year.  Change starts with yourself, not with an organization or group of friends, so start your goals today.  You will thank yourself tomorrow for what you accomplish today.  Cheers to the new year from me to you!


Conquer your stress…solutions for the holidays!

Conquer your stress…solutions for the holidays!

Today, I wanted to take a moment to talk about something that impacts everyone, especially during the holiday season, yet something that I and many others are guilty of not keeping under control.  It is something that tends to increase during the holidays and is something we, ourselves, can typically control.  What in the world do you think it is?  If you guessed stress then you are right.  Stress is something that we can control based on our response to things that are said, things that happen, and by how we choose to deal with daily trials and tribulations, successes and failures.  It  is something that can impact your health greatly if it is not managed and dealt with properly.  Further, it can cause digestive problems, cramps, headaches, anxiety, exhaustion, and multiple other major and minor health concerns.

It is important to channel within yourself the proper tools that will help you control and conquer stress.  Tools that are up to YOU to find, determine, and explore, because while I will provide suggestions and help, we all deal with stress differently.   You have to find what fits for you (this is continuously echoed in my posts).   Like everyone, I still deal with stress everyday, BUT the difference is I now know how important and helpful it is to have solutions to counteracting stressful situations.

So here’s a few pointers that I have been given and learned over time:  1) First, meditation can help even if it seems like an odd way to deal with stress.  Trust me, I thought it seemed unfitting for me, but meditation can be as easy as sitting with your eyes closed and counting to ten, taking deep breaths to control your breathing.  It allows you to cool off, release some steam, AND best of all, allows your heart rate to slowly begin to return to normal.  Other great options include 2) drinking camomile tea (or other hot beverage) which has a calming effect, 3) removing yourself from the area that is causing the frustration and stress for 5-10 minutes, 4) taking a hot bath with sea salts (ease aching muscles) or peppermint oils (calming and relaxing effect).  Of course, my ultimate way to de-stress is to 5) workout–run, stretch, weight lift, interval train.  Exercising and working out is one of the most effective yet underutilized ways to take away stress.  So, while the holidays, work, relationships, etc. can be the subject of great stress, REMEMBER that it’s how YOU choose to respond to the stress that makes it impact your life.


Using quotes for health inspiration :)

Using quotes for health inspiration :)

My inspiration this week comes from watching, listening, and absorbing the hardships, difficulties, stress, compassion (lack of) from those around me.  I work retail so I hear a lot of scenarios, parenting, stress evoked responses, etc. throughout my day as well as from my own family, friends, and boyfriend.  It is the holiday season, a joyous time, but also a time that typically includes heightened stress, chaos, and even sometimes frustration and disappointment.  I completely understand the mixed emotions and feelings, but part of being healthy is maintaining a healthy view on life that allows you to succeed and be emotionally healthy.

Stress greatly impacts your health and if you don’t believe that, take the time to read some of the things stress can cause to your digestive health such as stomach pain.  I can speak on this firsthand, as someone with digestive problems, it has been very important for me to learn to control my stress level each minute throughout the day to ensure I don’t further worsen my symptoms and health.  Rather than going on and on about my own life learning experiences surrounding emotional stability, I want to use the following quotes to help show why exercise, compassion, and realizing that each person is facing an unforeseen battle for which we may not know is important to remember.

Quote 1: “Exercise is not a chore.  It is a luxury to take time out of your busy schedule to take care of your mind and body.”

Quote 2: “Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.”

Quote 3: Wise words from Mother Teresa:

-People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.

Forgive them anyway.

-If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.

Be kind anyway.

-If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.

Succeed anyway.

-If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you.

Be honest and sincere anyway.

-When you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.

Create anyway.

-If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.

Be happy anyway.

-The good you do today, will often be forgotten.

Do good anyway.

-Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.

Give your best anyway.

-In the final analysis, it is between you and God.

It was never between you and them anyway.


Tis the season to help others, donate, & give!

Tis the season to help others, donate, & give!

Since it’s the holiday season, I deemed it appropriate to throw in an entry that is very, very, very (shall I say VERY again to emphasize my passion) dear to my heart.  While the holiday season is a great time of year, it can quickly become a very self-indulgent, over the top, season that is filled with buying the next best phone, computer, or tablet, more toys for children that have an overflowing toy box and toy room, and presents for friends that have everything they could possibly want and more.  We want to buy the perfect presents for our moms and dads, brothers and sisters, cousins and children.  I was as equally guilty of this at earlier times in my life, but I have come to realize that I would rather reach out to those that are less fortunate than me.  The holiday season is the perfect time to reach beyond yourself and your family to touch the lives and hearts of others.  This may sound silly and may not seem like a fitness tip, but when you help others it gives you that “feel good” feeling deep down that is great for your mind and body.  So, while helping others, donating, and giving to those who are less fortunate may not be physical fitness and exercise, it is a wellness tip that will do a lot for your mind, heart, and emotional well-being.

The holiday season is a time of celebration and joyous occasions for most people, but there are also lots of people in the world that are less fortunate or need help.  As a young adult, it is very, very, very (and yes, I shall say VERY) hard for me to watch people give thanks and appreciate their blessings on Thanksgiving Day only to become greedy, materialistic, and crabby human beings on Black Friday.  I am headed into working my 4th Black Friday in retail so I do have the experience to say this!  While I am not judging those around me, I am rather hoping to encourage and light a spark in others to reach out and help those around them.

I wish for others to reach within their heart and think about the kids that will wake up with no presents under the Christmas tree, cancer patients that are dying and suffering during the holidays, and soldiers, airport employees, and first responders (police officers, firefighters, hospital personnel) who are working so that everyone else can have a joyful holiday season.  This seems to quickly and easily be taken for granted by everyone, including myself at times.  My pledge, wish, and challenge to you is to send a care package or box to solders in need, visit http://www.anysoldier.com, which is a reliable website to send care packages to soldiers who are serving overseas.  Find an Angel tree and fill shoe boxes for children who otherwise will have no Christmas presents under the tree this holiday season or take freshly baked cookies, pies, and other treats to your local first responders to show them how much you appreciate their hard work during a season that is filled with chaos and stress for them.  Or even consider donating your hair if you don’t have the money to spend toward children and soldiers.  You can visit http://www.facebook.com/Beautifullengths8 for more information.

So, when you leave your house today, remember that one small thing to help others may actually be something that helps you as well!  Cheers to donating, giving, helping, and changing the lives of others.  And from me to you, I hope you and your family have a wonderful and safe holiday season!


Cheers to the holidays…and good health!

Cheers to the holidays…and good health!

The holidays are just around the corner, which means potlucks, family gatherings, and work parties.  It’s a time of year which often means putting on a few extra unwanted pounds and losing the body definition you have worked hard on all year long.  While it’s one of the most fun, joyous, and cheerful times of year, it can also quickly become the most dreaded when you add ten pounds to your waistline.  To lessen your caloric intake and still enjoy the holiday season alongside your family and friends, consider some of these tips.

One tip that can be helpful is to drink plenty of water prior to going to holiday parties and potlucks.  This helps give you a full feeling so that you will eat less.  Further, you can eat something small and filling like an apple.  An apple helps give you a full feeling for a long period.

Parties, gatherings, and potlucks often mean buffets, which can be very tough for many people.  With buffets, avoid standing at the buffet tables and bars that have finger foods, appetizers, and hor’derves  sitting out.  Instead, grab a plate and fill it with 1/3 cheeses, meats, dips, chips, and snack foods while filling the other 2/3 of the plate with fruits and veggies.  Additionally, allow yourself to only visit the table once and then throw your plate away.  Upon finishing, socialize in other areas away from the buffet table so you cannot reach the food.  Same goes for drinks because drinks add hundreds and hundreds of extra calories and often give people the munchies!

While parties and potlucks are a fun holiday tradition, they also tend to have an “appetizer and munch” period followed by a large buffet meal that is often followed by a dessert buffet.  Rather than eating and munching on appetizers, try to stick to core meals during the holiday season so you don’t fall victim to eating so much.  These core meals during the holiday season are already much higher in calories than an average meal, so sticking to core meals and avoiding the appetizers will help cut down on extra calories.  Further, if your gatherings, potlucks, and parties include a dessert buffet, stick to one regular portion size of dessert OR choose up to three small, bite-size portions of several desserts that you would like to try.

I recognize that many people have family recipes, casseroles, and dishes that make the holiday season special, but one great tip is to limit your meal to one casserole and serve basic vegetables such as green beans, corn, asparagus, etc. as other side options.  For example, choose either green bean casserole, corn pudding casserole, sweet potato casserole and then have basic vegetables as sides rather than as casseroles.  This helps eliminate having three to five casseroles that have cream of mushroom soups, additional heavy cream, sugar, and lots of butter.  If this is something that cannot be done and you must have many different casserole dishes at your holiday table, consider using substitutes (that you will love and feel good about and I promise your family won’t even notice).  For example, use part cauliflower in mashed potatoes and low-fat milk in casseroles in place of heavy cream or melted butter.

Lastly, and I say this lightly (so that you don’t think of it as an excuse to eat whatever you want during the holidays!), it is important to remember that your body does not expect you to eat perfect all the time, everyday, all year.  You can always redeem yourself later with motivation, will power, and a positive attitude of improving.  So, while I won’t encourage you to eat a slice of pumpkin pie and pecan pie at Thanksgiving or eat cinnamon rolls, eggs, hashbrowns, and bacon on Christmas, I will tell you that if you do slip up, you can make it up, preferably sooner rather than later!

One last quick tip is try to squeeze in some brisk walking with your family before or after holiday gatherings.  It’s a great way to socialize and it makes you feel even better when you sit down for your big feast!  My family actually makes it a routine to take a brisk walk before eating Thanksgiving to keep us from feeling so full later in the day!

Tis the season…for GREAT food, family, and GOOD health!


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