Friday, November 27, 2009

Have a Happy Healthy Holiday Season

I hope everyone had a Fantabulous Thanksgiving. I have been busy but really enjoying this past week with my daughter and family. Today on FOCUS Friday I present a column of mine which was originally published in The Henry County Times on November 25, 2009. I hope it inspires you to consider your health and the decisions you make this holiday season. Whatever the holidays you celebrate, I wish you happy and safe one and a Happy New Year.

Have a Happy Healthy Holiday Season

As the holiday season rolls in earlier and earlier each year with our lives being bombarded with decorations and advertisements from all directions and our friends and family putting numerous demands on our time, it is easy to feel frustrated, stressed and apathetic about our health. In our efforts to achieve a happier and healthier lifestyle it is important for us to plan for our success.

During the holiday season the average person gains 7 to 10 pounds, but this can easily be avoided if we plan our meals correctly and remember the turkey gets stuffed, not us. It is not necessary and unhealthy to stuff our bellies full when we sit down for our Thanksgiving meal. I know it is easy to do but consider making the meal itself healthier. We can easily fill up on healthier foods and limit the amount of high-calorie, high-fat foods we consume.

In order to achieve this we must first make the decision we are going to concentrate on our health. Why wait until New Years Day to begin taking care of ourselves? Most New Year’s resolutions fall by the wayside and are forgotten. There are numerous excuses we can make for ourselves but the truth is we are the ones in control. It takes looking into the mirror and deciding we are going to change our habits. If we don’t, we will find ourselves gorging on holiday treats and buffets and then feeling guilty because we made the decision to fail.

Sure the red velvet cake tastes great at the time but is it really worth the guilt and torture you put yourself through 20 minutes later when you feel bloated and are asking yourself why you over indulged? Not in my opinion, however, if we decide to fill up on healthy vegetables and fruits before diving into the stuffing and piling on the gravy, we will feel better about ourselves and can avoid the need to make New Year’s resolutions we have no intention of keeping in the first place. A good plan is to fill half of your plate with veggies, one-quarter with a lean meat and the other quarter with your starch.

There are many other things we can do during this holiday season in order to keep from gaining weight. When going to a party, begin the day with a healthy breakfast rich in fiber and protein and be mindful of your calorie intake throughout the day. We need to realize appetizers are not meals! Nibble on the healthy snacks like nuts, wheat crackers, veggies, and fruits. Stay away from the buffet table and walk around and mingle. Don’t feel you have to say yes to everything someone offers you to eat. Remember, drinks contain calories too, especially if you plan to consume alcohol.

But our weight gain should not be our only concern for our health. There are many stressful situations we will deal with during this holiday season which can leave us feeling achy, irritated, and depressed. One of the easiest things we can do to relieve stress and also help us avoid gaining weight is exercise. This is especially important if you have a lot of traveling to do. In an airplane or a car we can do knee hugs lifting our knees toward our chest, twist our necks rotating them around, and shrug our shoulders up and down to stretch out the kinks of our travel.

To avoid the irritating situations of shopping, gift wrapping, long lines, cooking, and the numerous other events going on in our lives, we must have a plan. Staying on top of all of these events can be achieved through following Santa’s advice by making lists and checking them twice. However, even the most organized person can feel over extended during the holiday season. Things which have helped me overcome the aggravation are taking deep breaths, shopping online or at local merchants to avoid crowds, and going for a leisurely stroll just to unwind and relax. You must make time for you!

Also, loneliness and depression are common feelings among many people during the holiday season. There are a few things you can do to overcome these feelings. You can spend time outside in the sunlight, get up and dance around, have sex, watch a funny movie or exercise to increase those feel-good endorphins. Pick up the phone and call a friend; this may raise your levels of progesterone, a mood-boosting, stress relieving hormone. If you are experiencing extreme depression please seek the advice of a health professional.

Although we are quite busy this season, catering to the soul is necessary. Make the time to take care of yourself. Take time to volunteer and help the less fortunate. This can easily redeem a sense of joy and thanksgiving in all of us. By taking this time to supply another’s needs, one’s heart will feel complete. Take care of yourself this holiday season and have a safe and joyous Thanksgiving.


  1. Hi Brian.
    I do agree the holiday season is the season we really take on weight.
    as i'm flying continously between 2 continents ,i'm lucky to see the difference in food on the market in Europe and north-america ,
    it troubles me that in Europe they seems to have so much more choice in food products aimed at lowering cholesterol.
    I really miss the soya based backing butter it's really healthy and the taste is great ,also the manylow (light) cheeses they have overthere.

    yes the holiday stress i prefere to have my shopping done way ahead of these days ,only the shopping for cooking part is for the day itself.
    have a great day!

  2. Thanks Will, I appreciate your comments. Your right I know. I have never been to Europe however I am aware of these differences. Maybe one day we will wake up over here and decide to offer more healthy choices at a reasonable price.


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Sing to the LORD, all the earth;
Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.

1 Chronicles 16:23

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