If you’re an extremely perceptive, hard-core Live It Active blog reader, you will recognize this quote. In fact, you may even remember the blog post.
So why am I reusing it? Because it’s holiday season. And while we may in fact be extremely excited to see family, friends, the glow of a good bottle of red, or a favourite holiday treat, it can be a tough time for many. In fact, it can be a tough time for most. Not only are we dealing with the challenging dynamics of family (of which mine has a few…), perhaps a great loss – family member, friend or pet, but also, our ever-present, and often negative, inner monologue.
I received an email from my mindfulness guru last night. Some of you may remember my interview with Barbara Wilkinson. In her email, which she encourages us to read slowly / mindfully, she speaks about the holiday season and the emotions many of her clients express. While excited, many clients are also reminded of a sad or difficult time – the loss of a parent, the first Christmas without their child at home, an ailing friend.
It’s quite ironic – the time of year that is touted to be the happiest, is in fact, for some, the most difficult. When visiting with friends and family, we often are reminded of those who are absent.
With the year coming to a close, we may spend too much time reflecting on what wasn’t accomplished, the job we didn’t get, the house we couldn’t afford. We may evaluate the amount of time we volunteer, spend with friends, call our family, play with our children, exercise and eat healthy. And if we fail our self-examination we my call our self into question and start doubting our wonderfulness. This type of behaviour may not relegated to the holiday season, but is something we do more regularly.
I encourage you to stop. I encourage you to read the following words aloud, “I am already more than enough”.
While the holiday season may still pose many a challenge – a drunken sister, an angry brother, an emotional child (likely due to the never-ending blood sugar fluctuations), work to quiet the inner dialogue, work to give yourself a break. If you’ve recently experienced a loss in your life or the holiday season reignites grief and memories, work to quiet the inner dialogue, work to give yourself a break. You’re already dealing with so much. Why not be kind to yourself?
This holiday season, take time to reflect on the positive things that happened this past year. If it has been an unbelievably trying year, seek out even the smallest of joys. Perhaps a good dinner with friends, a fun afternoon at the office, a wonderful new pair of boots (hey, we all have our wants and likes!).
This holiday season, give yourself the gift of inner peace and acceptance. Remember, you are already more than enough.
Party season is upon us. Weekends seem to go by more quickly, your kids (if you’ve got them) have entered hyperville and don’t seem to be returning home anytime soon, and your pants are perhaps a little tighter than they were in November. There’s no denying it, it’s party time.
If you like parties, it is a fun time of year. Food, alcohol, food, alcohol and some mistletoe always make for a good time, well, not always. Oftentimes you end of up leaving feeling bloated, uncomfortable and potentially, guilty (something you need to avoid at all costs when it comes to food…well, at least I think so).
So what can you do to avoid the bloat? I’ve listed a few simple steps below that may help:
- Make sure to alternate your alcoholic beverages with water. If you’re at a work function, over-imbibing is never a good idea. The water will help to avoid fatigue and also, prevent you from overeating.
- Eat a light snack beforehand. If you head to a seasonal celebration absolutely starving, you’re going to overeat.
- Keep your dinner parties to a minimum. I cannot remember the exact number, but I believe (don’t quote me) researchers have found a sweet spot when it comes to dinner party size. I think that around 8 guests, our unconscious mind takes over, encouraging us to eat more than the others (i.e. our survival mechanism has kicked in).
- Hold a drink in your hand (aim for non-alcoholic, but seriously, don’t deny yourself). Having a drink in your hand makes it considerably more difficult to pick up a goodie, hold a napkin, and eat it gracefully. This technique is only going to work at more fancy / work parties. If you’re with friends, no one is going to care two hoots how graceful you look when you eat an hors d’oeuvre.
- Pay attention to your hunger cues. Before stocking your plate, take stock of what’s going on internally. Are you actually hungry? Could you do with a small meal? This is what’s called mindful eating. The more aware we become of what’s going on internally, the better we can navigate the buffet table.
- Keep up the exercise regime. It will help to keep your metabolism stimulated, your energy levels up, and mood stable. Christmas can be a stressful time, exercise can help to regulate that stress. And better managed stress levels reduce the risk of emotional eating or drinking.
- Mingle. Don’t just stand with your partner. Make new friends, chat, joke, laugh. Social interaction is a natural need for most human beings and will likely take your mind of the sweet table, if only for a few minutes.
- At the big dinner, take small portions to start. Once done, do another internal read to determine whether you actually need another helping.
- Go easy on the meat. Excessive protein intake can be disruptive on our digestive system. Protein takes a considerable amount of effort for our bodies to break down. Hence, the food coma that often ensues after a protein-heavy meal…i.e. turkey dinner. Furthermore, we tend to eat a fairly fat heavy diet at Christmas which can also contribute to the gastric slow-down. Be kind to your intestines and colon this season.
- Watch the caffeine intake. Excessive caffeine can really alter our sleep patterns. Without sleep, the hormones that regulate our hunger signals get thrown off, causing us to eat more of the stuff we don’t want (well, we do want it…but we don’t need it in the quantities we usually consume it in).
This holiday season take control of your mind and belly. Pay attention to how you’re feeling. Eat what you must and leave what you can. By tuning in to your body, you will become a master of your own domain and play the necessary part in improving both your happiness and health.
For those of you who watch Modern Family, you’ll understand how the above “surprise” should be said. For those of you who are not familiar, I’m sorry. I tried to find a clip on YouTube, but to no avail. But seriously, if you’re not watching it, start watching it. The laughter will be good for you.
Anyways, about 3 weeks ago I commented on the tightness and pain of my hip flexors, specifically my left one. I made a commitment to you, my readers, that I would actually do something about it instead of whinging.
So what did I start doing?
- Stood and walked more at work
- Stretched at work and at home (around 2-3 times per day)
- Started attending yoga again. This was a tough one and I’ll explain below.
- Increased my activity during lunch hour
And guess what? My left hip flexor is unbelievably better. I don’t lie awake feeling it twinge and generally annoy me. The only thing, I’ve got to keep up this activity to ensure that the tightness does not return and that’s tough.
It’s tough, because I find yoga very, very challenging. I actually find most poses painful and frustrating. I find balance poses the most challenging – especially when I can barely stand on one leg without wobbling and people are doing all kinds of intricate poses around me without any wobble. How unfair.
Because I find yoga both painful and challenging, I tend to avoid it. But this week, I went to four hot yoga classes. Yes, four. Before I go on, a few words of advice:
- Try to avoid standing near a man – he is going to sweat a lot, smell, not have washed his shorts from the last class (yes, serious ew), and potentially fart. Not a win win situation.
- Bring a towel that runs the length of your entire mat. Otherwise you’re going to spend a large amount of time readjusting the towel so that your back leg doesn’t slip off and cause a groin injury.
- Drink water.
- Lie down when you’re about to faint. Or lie down when you feel like having a snooze (I do this quite often).
- Don’t compare yourself to other participants.
Anyways, while the yoga was challenging, sweaty, and frustrating at times, it has proven to be very useful in the stretching department. I appreciate that this is not a startling revelation, that yoga is good for stretching. Thus, while my body is absolutely exhausted today, it feels well-worked, stronger and more stretched.
So if you’re sore, tight, feeling fatigued I encourage you to make a change in your daily routine to address and take control of the issue. Go to a yoga class. Drink more water. Stretch during lunch hour or go for a walk. Do something to help your body. Trust me. It’s worth it. My hip flexors are seriously thanking me.
Photo taken by Augusto Mia Battaglia Photography
It’s cold season. The more time we spend indoors, the greater our chances of becoming sick. No, I’m not advocating that you stay outside in a blizzard, but I am recommending you do a few things to help stave off the sickness.
Apparently, adults average 3 colds per year and kids can expect between 6 and 12. That’s a whole lot of sickness, just within one family. While it may seem like a challenge, especially if you have little ones in daycare, there are a few simple things you can do that can help.
- Allow your child to build an immune system. Purell did not exist during my childhood and like most children, I was not a super regular hand-washer. I also grew up in the country, had many pets, and spent a lot of time at the barn. Also, and you may cringe at this, my father paid little attention to best-before dates on dairy products and other such goodies. I still do the same today. While this is completely anecdotal evidence, I do believe that being exposed to such things has helped my immune system to become the army that it is today (now watch me get a cold). All in all, let your kid be a kid. Eating stuff off the floor, licking toys at school, and getting into the garbage (not sure if kids actually do this, more so dogs) is likely beneficial in the long run…unless they eat raw chicken.
- Stop using Purell. Regular hand-washing does the job. By constantly purell-ing ourselves we never give our immune system the chance to practice, to exercise, to perform. An army that doesn’t get regular exercise, is a lazy, slow-to-the-draw kind of army and nobody wants one of those. My recommendation – wash your hands after you go to the washroom and before you prepare a meal. Otherwise, you’re probably good.
- Eat colourful fruit and veggies. They do your body a tonne of good.
- Forget the Cold FX. It costs a lot of money and it works via the placebo method, if at all. Don’t believe me, read this. Positive thinking, “I won’t get sick. I won’t get sick.” will accomplish much of the same.
- Drink water. Aim for the 8 glasses a day, but don’t beat yourself up if you just can’t drink that amount. Perhaps aim for one more glass than you usually drink.
- Watch your stress levels. Stress can weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to catching the virus. Baths, reading, listening to music, spending time with friends, cooking/baking, exercise, yoga, stretching, being in nature are all great ways to relieve stress.
- Exercise. After you exercise, your body goes into repair mode. Your immune system is fairly busy. Yet, this constant workload helps to make the immune system stronger and smarter. I do not, however, recommend exercising when sick. Your body is already working hard enough, let it rest.
- Sleep. Go to bed at 8:30 if you must. Sleep when you feel a cold coming on. It will undeniably speed along the recovery process.
There are likely hundreds of other possible remedies, these are just mine. As you can tell, I am not an advocate of supplements or hand sanitizer. Furthermore, I do not take vitamins. I aim to get what I need from what I eat. While many would argue that doing so is impossible, I seem to manage okay. Sickness does not visit me often (seriously, watch me get a cold today) and when it does, it doesn’t stick around for long.
Good luck this flu and cold season.