I’m so glad you guys enjoyed yesterday’s post about the goodies I received in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap! Make sure you check it out if you haven’t had a chance to do so yet 🙂 Can’t wait to see the official link round-up post tomorrow of every single recipe involved!
As a Fitfluential Ambassador, I am always looking to both give and receive tips on achieving balance. FitFluential’s key areas for balance are Eat, Sleep, Move, and Enjoy. I have to say that I certainly agree that balance in those areas is important, but since CMO Danielle Liss has assigned Ambassadors a writing prompt on five tips for achieving holiday balance, I am going to provide my own fifth area so that I can keep things Even-Steven and concentrate on one area per tip.
1. Eat: Focus on what makes you feel good, both physically and mentally.
Let me elaborate. There’s the food that makes you feel good physically. “Clean eats”, some call them. It’s different for everyone, and can often depend on what your body is used to. Some people feel best as vegans, some feel best as raging carnivores. Some feel best eating like Snooki:
Before Christmas dinner last year. Yes, my Christmas dinner came from a Jewish deli. And yes, I'm sunburnt.
For me, some of the foods that make me feel good don’t have too much sugar, are often in their most natural form (whole fruits, fresh veggies, local breads and meats, etc), and aren’t fried (which makes me veeeery sleepy). Those are just some examples.
Chowing down on fried alligator in DC.
But other foods are fun to eat and try, even if they aren’t those foods mentioned above that typically make me feel my best. And every now and then, I try to tell myself that it’s OK to eat those foods and experience them. Just because they don’t leave me feeling my best, doesn’t mean I don’t like to eat them. Fried food is YUMMY! A lot of heavier or sweeter foods tend to pop up during the holidays. Most emphasis is put on avoiding them at all costs, but I don’ t that’s entirely realistic or mentally healthy.
Grease-laden fries sure do TASTE good.
This area of FitFluential balance is, undoubtedly, the area I have the hardest time in. It’s very difficult for me to allow myself to eat the foods that aren’t on my list of foods I typically consume on a daily basis. In other words, I have a tough time breaking the mold. In fact, at this point in this post, I’d like to ask you all for tips! How do you allow yourself to indulge every now and then in some of those special holiday foods, like Christmas cookies or that random relative’s cheesy traditional side dish?
2. Sleep: Get enough of it.
I love my sleep. There isn’t much I will sacrifice it for. Blessed sleep is the reason I refuse to make myself wake up for a workout earlier than 7am, and why I rarely will commit to plans that may potentially have me out past 10pm.
Behold, my college sheets.
One might think this leads me to lead a boring life, but I think my life is anything but that. Getting to bed at a reasonable hour on Friday and Saturday nights means I’m ready to go bright and early during my valuable Saturdays and Sundays. I have enough time to sweat, spend time at my favorite cafes, blog, do my homework, run errands, hang out with friends, you name it. Going to bed earlier than 12am doesn’t mean I have less free time on weekends – it just shifts my free time to earlier hours, which is fine by me.
Sometimes holiday parties start on the later side, at 8 or 9pm. If it’s not too far away, there’s still always time to drop by. You can make a decision about how late you want to stay once you arrive! If you’re having a blast, by all means, stay and enjoy. If you’re like me, and on a steady sleeping schedule, your eyes will start getting droopy and you’ll be out of there by 10:30 (aka last Friday night for me). It’s easy in these instances to suffer from a classic case of FOMA (Fear of Missing Out), but then again, I often find myself suffering from FOMA in regards to the morning and early afternoon hangouts, group fitness classes, and blogging sessions I will miss if I hit the hay too late and end up sleeping in.
3. Move: Do so when you can, but don’t skip a special event for a workout. Or better yet, combine the event and the workout!
I like how FitFluential goes with the verb “move”, not “exercise”, because there are many forms of movement that your typical athlete might not consider “counting” toward physical activity. I know I myself am guilty of this. But the dancing you do at that holiday party? That’s movement! So is the pole dancing Groupon you might use with a few girlfriends for a girl’s night out precursor to a festive cookie exchange party, or the hike you may take after a Christmas brunch.
Greek dancing, anyone?
I always say, when you have time to move, make sure you take advantage. If you have a free afternoon or evening, going to the gym may be the last thing on your mind. But it won’t even be present in your mind at ALL the morning after a festive shindig that didn’t send you home until about 3am. So if you have the time, get that movement in so that when the busy holiday season leaves no space in your calendar, it’ll be no biggie.
Speaking of calendar, scheduling movement is a big help to me as well, especially with my love for group fitness classes. Since those run on a schedule, I can prepare for when they occur in advance and fit them into my schedule!
4. Enjoy: Not just the obvious “fun” things (parties, presents, etc), but also the food you eat, the rest you get, the moving you do, and the drinks you drink.
No one can follow any of the tips in this post, on any Twitter feed, in any fitness magazine, etc if he or she isn’t at least somewhat enjoying life at the same time. It’s human nature not to stick with something that we dislike doing. So for each area of FitFluential balance, try to figure out what you enjoy most.
Had to have one holiday photo in here, right?
It may take trial and error. You may try a thousand group fitness classes before you find one that works up a sweat AND makes the time go by at a reasonable pace (I’m not going to say makes the time fly by – I know that’s not realistic for most). You may go through twenty “healthified” holiday cookie recipes before you find one that doesn’t taste like cardboard. But don’t give up! There is a way out there to lead a balanced, healthy life of enjoyment. You just might not have found it yet!
5. Drink (my own addition): Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – but also, one or two glasses of wine don’t hurt!
First of all, I cannot stress the importance of water. Drink it as often as you can. Drink a ton of it! I always have water on me, no matter where I go. I recommend using it to pace yourself during holiday parties and dinners as well. After you clear your plate, try finishing your glass of water, then see if you still want seconds. Alternate each run for finger foods with a glass of water.
Not exactly a holiday photo, but I'll drink sangria year round!
Water can also be used to help you enjoy alcohol in moderation. Firstly, it’s another pacer – always make sure you order a glass of water at the same time as each drink. Make sure you finish it before you consider ordering another. Secondly, water will help to ward off the dehydrating effects of alcohol. There’s no guarantee against a headache the next morning (I usually get one no matter how much water I drink!) but taking every “precaution” is smart.
If you don’t drink, that’s your choice, just like the foods that make you feel good are your choice! Don’t let that make you nervous about attending any holiday gatherings where you know most people will be drinking. There’s always substitutes you can fill your glass with – seltzer water is a good option, or diet soda. Everyone will assume there’s something “intoxicating” in there, trust me!
As for choices of what beverages to partake in, if you do wish to do so (I know I sometimes do), I recommend something that you can sip on and savor. Spring for a wine that you know you will enjoy, even if it’s not the cheapest. It will satisfy you more! Many banquet halls and even party hosts are now offering “skinny” or “natural” cocktail options for those that dislike wine.
I hope you all enjoyed my 5 tips to achieve FitFluential Holiday Balance!
Which of these five areas is it hardest for you to achieve balance in? Is there anything you think I left out, or anything I said that you disagree with? Do you have any tips for me on how to achieve balance in the area of Eat?