The Holidays are upon us! Thanksgiving has passed and we are welcoming the onslaught of holiday parties with Family, Food, and Cheer… Though if we are honest most of us have a love/hate relationship with the holidays.
Love the family time → hate how family knows how to push all the right buttons
Love the food → hate how clothes fit later
Love the cheer → but who can be happy all the time?
Thankfully, I have devised tactics to combat this love/hate relationship to leave us with bigger smiles and (hopefully) intact waistlines after the holiday season.
I love family meals. I love the people. I love spending time with loved ones who know all my stories and love me for them… but this is also the downfall. Many times family can’t help but bring up the embarrassing or hurtful stories in a way that is meant to be funny, but awakens some old hurt you swore was gone long ago.
After years of this, I have finally found a counter-tactic. Rather than reminiscing about days past, I come prepared with a game to play (a prize is a plus) These help to build our relationships rather than relying on past interactions. I also bring at least one question to ask each family member- who doesn’t like to be an expert in their own topic or talk about themselves!
The food at the holidays is nothing less than decadent. It is entirely too easy to over-indulge. There are work parties, neighbors give cookies, family parties, friends have ugly sweater parties, and the list goes on. With all of this, our good habits from the rest of the year are often thrown out the window and we eat more cookies than we planned, drink in excess, and have just one more helping at dinner.
In past years, I have gained a rather large amount of weight over the holidays which I immediately try and banish with workouts and an endless march of salads in January.
The last 2 years I have planned ahead. When going to parties, I eat a small salad or some veggies before leaving the house. I offer to bring a dish to pass that is low in sugar and high on taste. If the meal is buffet style or appetizers only, plate food instead of grazing and always choose the smallest plate. If seated, put your fork down between bites! Cookies… I haven’t found anything too fool-proof here. The variety is my Achilles heel- I want to try them all! What I attempt to do is take only 1-2 cookies and split them with my husband.
Holiday drinks are often high in sugar and very rich, so I always aim for a glass of dry wine that is easier to sip than drink or a fill a glass with ice before adding any cocktail. Staying hydrated is also key- always have a glass of water at your place in addition to your drink.
Moderation in all things is the goal- with food and drink, you get to have some of the decadence but can keep a modicum of control over consumption.
I am an introvert. A Meyer Brigg INFJ. Holiday cheer is uplifting and exciting. It provides an opportunity to celebrate and connect with people. It also leaves me feeling drained and wanting to crawl under a rock. As an introvert, self care is incredibly important, so I make sure to sleep enough, mediate regularly, use a gratitude journal, regular adjustments, and remind myself that it is OK to come late or leave a party early.
Holiday cheer can also be a financial burden with gift exchanges and lots of eating out. Understanding what is within budget and what is affordable can be a downer, but will ultimately make holidays more gratifying in the end. No one likes to go into debt for the holidays. Amongst my friends and family, we use white elephant exchanges, games, and handmade gifts to keep the costs down on entertainment.
The take home on cheer is to understand your own limits and respect them. Whether you are an introvert like me- who needs to recover after being social- or an extrovert who thrives on community, it is important to stay within your boundaries.
Who doesn’t love the holidays?! It is a time when we celebrate with loved ones, new friends, and old. By maintaining good practices with family, food, and merry-making- we can ensure that we are healthier at the end of our holidays both mentally and physically.
What helps you survive the holidays?