Better Than Just Surviving the Holidays

If you’ve been successful at navigating the holiday season, you’ve keep your stress to a bare minimum, maintained at least a shred of a fitness regime and have dodged most, if not all, potential food comas.

Not so much, you say? Relax, and try these tips to make it healthfully and happily through the holidays and into 2014.

Choose Quality Food over Quantity. 

Call it what you will.  “Slow Food”, “Mom’s Cooking”, or “Eating Clean”.  Real food is where it’s at.  This means choosing food items that have been minimally processed and preferably locally grown*.  Skip the commercial baked goods, drive through party platters and frozen pizzas.  If it has ingredients on the label that you can’t pronounce, do your host a favor and don’t bring it.   And as for leftovers, steer clear of foods that are considered “edible” for more than a week after opening.  If this seems too limiting consider this- in exchange for the preservatives, trans fats and high fructose corn syrup, you’ll get delicious (non-artificial) flavors, energy boosting nutrients and a healthier planet to boot.  Sounds like a gift that keeps giving.

(*Make sure to check out OC’s local produce from Tannaka Farms)

Be present- with yourself, your loved ones, your goals, and your food choices.

This means it’s ok to Dig in.  Or to Enjoy. And maybe even Imbibe.  But studies show that doing so mindfully* not only improves your health, but bolsters enjoyment of this life experience we call the holidays.  Ever get so wrapped up in the hoopla you missed the bigger picture? If so, the next time you are standing in the checkout line, check in.  Notice and remember that this is a time of appreciating, giving, and cherishing. Except for the dreaded fruitcake, nothing lasts forever (including time spent with loved ones) and more is not better (even when it comes to your favorite foods).  Consider being a connoisseur of life instead, and you might find this time of year can actually be one to look forward to.

(*For more info on “Mindfullness”, check out “Fully Present. The Science, Art and Practice of Mindfulness”  By UCLA’s Susan Smalley, PhD and Diana Winston)

Sweat the big stuff.  And the little stuff too.

Too busy to for fitness?  Rethink your activity as a self-indulgent benefit, not a chore.  I like to call it ‘me time’.   Exercise boosts endorphins and your metabolism, thereby lowering holiday stress but to get this benefit you have to get a little sweaty and put in some effort.  This means that walking the mall briskly is helpful but the real benefit comes from exerting more than what daily life provides, unless of course you peruse the shops ninja-style.  So try walking the dog or with the kids in a hilly neighborhood for at least a half hour.  Swing by for a yoga or Pilates class*.  Grab a set of resistance bands and strengthen your upper body while watching “Games of Thrones”.  As for me, I am no stranger to gift-giving anxiety and have a history of losing sleep over finding the perfectly hilarious white elephant gift for our office party.  But thankfully, I’ve learned that maintaining my fitness routine allows me to gain perspective and clarity (not to mention my sense of humor in such festive times).  Post workout, what I’m left with is a little (or a lot) of sweat, an awesome feeling of self-satisfaction, and some pretty cool gift ideas for those teenagers that hopefully, will continue to think I’m the best Aunt ever.

(*New classes forming here at Ideal Health and Wellness..stay tuned for details)

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” – Seneca

The “opportunity” in this case refers to treats and temptations (especially the ones that are easily assessable, but not really your favorites) and being “prepared” means just that- preparing healthy meals and snacks in advance to stash in the car, your lunch bag, or to bring to the family get-together. Hunger can be a powerful enemy so noshing on nutrient-rich snacks throughout the day will serve as a suit of armor against making unhealthful choices and sabotaging your goals.  Whether you have allergies (like wheat* or dairy) or are simply a preferential eater, this strategy ensures that you will eat delicious and healthy foods by choice, not just what is available.  And the reference to “luck”?  Feeling great before and into the New Year.  Little black dress anyone?

(*For some great tips and recipes for the wheat adverse, check out from

Healthfully yours,


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