Sunday, December 20, 2009

10 Things You Can Do to Stay Fit and Healthy this Holiday Season

We are all busy and overscheduled, so my top ten list is made to get you healthy and fit by fitting these tips into the time you've got. Enjoy, and please feel free to share your personal tips too. Oh, and Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and cheers to your healthiest year yet in 2010!

1. Take Your Vitamins- An influx of sugars attacks your immune system and traveling means you’ll come in contact with all types of colds and viruses that are new to your immune system. The result? A nasty cold or flu. Taking your vitamins on a daily basis will help reduce your chances of getting sick and decrease the strength of your cold if you do get sick. Here are some of the best vitamins to take to boost your immune system: http://www.mothernature.com/Library/Bookshelf/Books/10/72.cfm.

2. Love a Liquid Diet- Instead on snacking of the endless schmorgesborg of empty sweets that are placed before you this holiday, try one of these tips first:
a. Drink a large glass of water before putting out your snacks if you’re throwing the party. Or drink a bottle of water while you’re en route to your next holiday party. This will give you the sensation of being full so you’ll snack less. Not to mention, water flushes the body of toxins and makes your skin look great.
b. If you’re craving something sweet like pies, brownies, and chocolates, pour yourself a green tea instead. Green tea is sweet in more ways than one. Not only does it taste great, reducing your cravings for a sugar fix, it is incredibly good for you. Check out WebMD to learn more: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/health-benefits-of-green-tea.
c. Instead of turning to sweets, dangerous leftovers, or even seconds of that delightful Christmas dinner, brew up a nightcap of coffee. The key is to keep it nearly sugar-free and fat-free. So pour in some skim milk or a sugar-free creamer to take the edge off. Coffee is good for you, it tastes great, and as you know, caffeine is a natural appetite suppressant.

3. Be Flexible- You can be flexible in two ways.
a. First, when things don’t go your way or according to plan, don’t stress it; be flexible! Stress is the silent killer. It steals your joy during this most wonderful time of year, and it makes you sick. So, when you feel that tightening in your chest and neck, take a deep breath and remember not to stress about it. This will keep you happy and healthy.
b. Now onto to the next flexible feat. Take time to stretch and move your body. Even if you aren’t adept, a few little moves will do a world of good. Check out http://www.yogajournal.com/ for ways to implement some basic yoga moves into your life. If you already practice yoga, find ways to up your sessions in length and difficulty this season. For the myriad of yogic benefits check this out: http://www.webmd.com/balance/the-health-benefits-of-yoga.

4. Get Moving- Find ways to make your necessary activities work for you. When you go to the mall for your Christmas shopping, park further away (during daylight hours) to up your steps, as 10,000 steps a day are recommended by most doctors. Instead of taking the escalator or elevator, take the stairs. Play some holiday tunes and dance around the house while you vacuum, dust, fold, and do the dishes. You’ll burn twice the calories and still come off looking like Martha Stewart when the family arrives.

5. Skip the Seconds- No matter how wonderful the food is tell yourself that you’re not going to have seconds this holiday season. This way, when you’re putting the food on your plate you’re taking a proper amount that will be just enough, rather than taking some food now because you know you can go up for even more. Seconds aren’t necessary, but they can add anywhere between 200 to 500 extra calories to your daily intake. That means that in a year of “second helpings” you are packing on or maintaining between 20 and 50 extra pounds.

6. Walk it Out- I mentioned to get moving to reach your 10,000 steps. Now, I suggest that you walk it out. After you’re done with your Christmas shopping, drop the bags in the trunk of your car and do a lap or two around the mall to take in the beauty of the lights, decorations, and people. Take deep breaths and let the stress go. You’ve done your shopping; now it’s time to bask in the holiday cheer. After Christmas dinner or other family meals, go for a walk to prolong the quality time and burn off those extra calories.

7. Take Ten- If you can’t find a way to multitask to make some of these other tips work for you, try to at least give yourself 10 minutes a day. In that 10 minutes, try to work up a sweat by going for a quick walk or jog or even running up and down your staircase. Maybe it could be a 10 minute yoga routine or 10 minutes of a program on The Fit Channel. If you can do just this, you will be putting in 70 minutes of exercise that you would have deprived your body of otherwise. That means you are burning anywhere between 350 and 700 calories a week. This helps to shave off those pesky 5 pounds we all complain about gaining during the holidays.

8. Eat In- Eating out is tough on your diet and bad on your wallet. Going on a date? Go out for a drink and then come home to cook! Having a family get together? Do a skinny potluck instead of dining at Olive Garden. Everyone can bring one healthy dish, which is good to everyone’s waist and wallet. In general, whatever you eat at home is going to contain a fraction of the calories and fat that you would consume at a restaurant. Some studies have even pointed out that we eat much more when we go out to dinner because we feel the need to eat our money’s worth and the portions are twice the size of a home meal.

9. Save Time for Sleep- Nothing replaces seven hours of uninterrupted sleep. Nothing! If you skip on it, your entire body and immune system is deprived. Learn more on sleep depravation here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/08/AR2005100801405.html. In a recent article in Men’s Health, Dr. Oz explained that late night television is one of the biggest culprits keeping us from our shuteye. He suggests that you TiVo your shows and play them back the next day while you're on the treadmill or lifting light weights. This way you’re getting your precious rest and getting to workout to your favorite shows. I actually TiVo Doctor Oz’s show and workout as I watch. Making rituals like this helps you get fit without feeling like you're depriving yourself.

10. Turn off the Tech- In this day and age, our televisions, laptops, and phones are going nonstop. This cult obsession takes away from times when we could be spending quality time with our families and friends or getting fit. Make a rule or goal for yourself so that you can find a way to reduce your tech time and increase your health time. I tell myself, “When your battery dies on your laptop, Kimberly, the computer is off for the night.” When it dies, I have no excuse for why I’m not working out or spending time with my loved ones. This tech-free time reduces my stress and gets me active.

So there you have it. Ten tips that are practical and helpful so you can keep your health and fitness on track this holiday season. What are some of your tips for staying healthy and fit over the holidays?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Just Say It! Thoughtful and Inexpensive Ways to Give the Gift of Love This Holiday Season

For many of us, it’s that time of year! It’s Christmas! And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, you’re celebrating your special, religious holiday that is also there to emphasize gratitude and praise for God and our loved ones. We all want to let our loved ones know we love them and value them, but with an economy that is hitting home it’s been hard (and even stressful) for many of us to afford the BIG gifts that have come to communicate how special our loved ones are to us. First, we all should know that BIG gifts shouldn’t represent our love, but our culture certainly tries to convince us this is so. What really matters is that we merely communicate our love and thankfulness in a sincere way. And if you ask, most people will probably tell you that they feel a thoughtful handmade or personalized gift is more touching and special than a big ticket item that was purchased at the last minute or with little thought.

Here are a few things that I am doing this holiday season to tell my loved ones how much I love them with a little money but a lot of thought.


1) Random Thank You Cards-
Cost
: About $5.00 and postage (if needed)
What I Did: I picked up some festive thank you cards from the store the other day. Right before I know I am about to see my family member or friend, I grab one of my thank you cards and jot down things that I am thankful for about them. I make sure I am specific about what I love about them or what I am thankful for. The surprise and the words always bring them a smile.


2) My Christmas News Letter
Cost: Virtually free beyond postage and envelopes
What I Did: Every year, I am sure to write a warm Christmas news letter to our closest friends and family since we don’t get to see them regularly. I update them on our lives and remind them that they are loved by us. A note or news letter is more personal than just a card or picture with signed names. News letters leave people feeling special and included in our lives.


3) Hand Painted Wine Glasses (Candles and Coffee Mugs!)
Cost
: $5.00-$10.00 for a set of 2 or 4 wine glasses and $15 for paint and supplies
What I Did: I am not a crafty person, but when my mother-in-law just visited, we flipped through a Christmas craft book I was given years ago from a dear friend. We were trying to find inexpensive crafts you can make for gifts. Well, we found one! We picked up some wine glasses and glass paint at the local craft store, and this Christmas I am painting wine glasses with spiritual words and art to give to my parents. I also did a hand-painted candle for my grandmother (and she just loved it) for just $6.00! I plain on trying this on coffee mugs next!


4) An Inscription in a Special Book
Cost: Price of book ($10.00-$20.00)
What I Did: A thoughtful book is a great gift that keeps giving over the years, but what puts the book choice over the top is an endearing inscription for your loved one inside. Mitch Albom books (Tuesdays with Morrie, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, For One More Day, and Have a Little Faith) are wonderful books for the holidays since they are very spiritual, family-oriented experiences. Coupling this sort of book with a sincere inscription inside will let your family member or friend know their special for years to come.

Hopefully some of these ideas are helpful to you, but at the very least maybe they’ll inspire you to get creative, save money, and most importantly, tell the people in your life how much you love them!

Please enjoy and share your creative, inexpensive ideas for gifts that say “I love you” this holiday season.

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