The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?
As we enter the holiday season of giving thanks, shopping frenzies and indulging our inner glutton, it is far too easy to get wrapped up in the madness and slip and slide our way to heartburn, indigestion and elastic waist pants. Making health a priority on the endless to-do list may result in tossing the list into the open fire with the roasting chestnuts. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
They say the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And you have to walk before you run. They also say that weebles wobble but they don’t fall down (I however, fall all of the time, so I must not be a weeble. But I digress). With these proverbs in mind, I offer the following small steps to be taken for mindful, healthful living during the “most wonderful time of the year.”
Eat plants. Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE bacon. However, even I know that man cannot live on swine alone, unless that man wants to have a heart attack. While some suggest that vegetarians do not consume the recommended amounts of protein, B12, or calcium (DiMarino, 2013), countless studies have shown the benefits of consuming plant-based diets which include: lower levels of cholesterol, blood pressure and hypertension and decreased rates of diabetes (Craig, Mangels, 2009). As someone who looks to maximize my food dollar, I realize that I cannot afford to spend $50 at Whole Foods on a bag of groceries that is the size of a small gift bag. Thankfully, I have found that eating healthily can be done by focusing on a plant- based diet. Recent research seems to support this idea, as one study concluded that eating plant-based food offered the best investment for health (Bernstein, Bloom, Rosner, Franz & Willett, 2010).
I know, I know. I said small steps. I am not suggesting that die-hard carnivores completely give up meat; but what I am suggesting is that you aim to consume 3-5 servings of fruits and veggies per day. You could also try serving one meatless meal every now and then.
Drink water. Water is good for you. Tap water is free. Need I say more? If you insist…replace one soda or juice per day with a glass of water. Your kidneys will thank you for it.
Exercise. I run. I am not suggesting that you do the same. Well, maybe I am, but if you can’t run, find something else you like to do and do it. Regularly. Starting with as little as 10 minutes per day could help to make exercise a regular habit. Have you ever seen those annoying fitness challenges on Pinterest or Facebook? They work because they challenge you to do a small amount of exercise for a month (planks, push-ups, etc) so that it becomes ingrained in your psyche. By the end of the month, you have become so accustomed to doing the activity that you can’t possibly imagine your life without it. That, or you are ecstatic that the month is over and you can finally stop doing the stupid challenge. My money is on the former.
Sleep. Who has time to sleep at this time of year? Well, if you want to make it through the day without snapping at the barista for spelling your name wrong again, you do. Getting enough rest is critical for optimal brain function and physical performance. Ironically, I type this at 11:30 pm, when I have to wake at 6 am, but we’re not talking about me. You, on the other hand, should power down the gadgets, set the phone to silent, and turn off the television. Do this 30 minutes prior to turning in for the night and you will thank me in the morning. You’re welcome.
Again, I am not suggesting that you attempt to tackle each tip over the holiday season, or in life for that matter. In order to lead a healthy life, you must be mindful of it. Choose one tip for the month and master it. Once you have become the captain of that ship, add another. Before you know it, you will be like He-Man or She-Ra and run around yelling “I have the POWER!”