It really is the most wonderful time of the year. I still get giddy when I go to see the tree at Rockefeller Center, followed by a stroll down Fifth Avenue to see all of the beautiful holiday window displays. I love the piles of holiday cards that fill my mailbox each day for three weeks from friends and family, alike, offering updates and best wishes for the New Year ahead. I look forward to each night filled with sparkly celebrations - be it work or friends. And the fact that I can watch Love Actually and Elf on repeat, while playing the holiday station on Pandora with no excuse needed, puts me into a slight state of bliss. It’s beautiful, it’s joyous, it’s fun, it’s sparkly, it’s cozy - it’s truly magical.
However, it’s clear that something has gone a bit awry with the holiday season. With each passing year it seems to be overwhelmingly focused on consumption - be it gifts, food, or alcohol. The fact that we need guides to navigate and, even, survive this time of year is just a little worrisome. And now, heading into the third week of December, I notice a shift of mood in my friends and colleagues who all seem exhausted, overwhelmed, complaining about the fact that their health has gone completely out the window at this point, and sheepishly admitting that they are ready for life to return back to “normal” come January.
So how has it gotten to a place where this “most wonderful time of the year” is making us all feel less than wonderful? I think a lot of people use this time of year as an excuse to completely throw away their health. Attending 1-3 holiday parties a night, shopping for the perfect gift for several people (at the least), and keeping up with work can be tough – but I don’t believe we have to let this completely derail our health. It’s just not worth it, and I think it’s time to shift the focus.
First, I think we need to stop worrying so much about the “holiday weight gain.” Not only does nobody notice or care about those few pounds as much as you do, but if you let that go, and focus on taking care of your insides, I promise you will feel better about your outsides! This focus on not gaining an ounce during the holidays, or any time of year, is too much pressure and sets us up for failure. We generally end up giving in, deciding to let all our healthy routines go out the window for a month — with the vow to make it all up in the New Year.
The yo-yo effect can take much more of a toll on our general health, and THAT is worth trying to keep some sort of healthy balance during this time of year. So while I am a believer in living life to the fullest - ALWAYS - and soaking in all the merriment that comes with this time of year, I think it’s always important to keep a sense of healthy balance - both for your body and your mind. A few of my tricks:
1. Make sure to stay active: Perhaps you won’t have time to workout as much as you normally do, but less time does not necessarily need to mean less sweat. If you up the intensity of shorter and less frequent workouts - you will still feel solid benefits!
2. Let go of the FOMO: You actually don’t have to attend every single party you’re invited to, and if nobody has given you permission to take a night off to veg out with tea and It’s a Wonderful Life, I am giving you permission now.
3. Eat as healthy as you can when you can: I know holiday parties don’t offer the healthiest selection, and it’s hard to resist the temptation of all of the holiday treats at the office. So try to balance that out with lots of healthy meals filled with fresh veggies, fruits, and well-sourced healthy fats and proteins. Not only will this offer you the nutrients you need to keep your energy up and your immune system working, but it will fill you up with the good stuff, leaving less room for the bad stuff.
4. Hydrate: With all the sugar and alcohol going into our systems, it’s important to keep flushing out your body, as well as not let yourself get dehydrated. I like to keep a certain size bottle or glass, and set a goal for how many of those each day I need to drink.
5. Relax and enjoy: Don’t be hard on yourself - it will add the extra worry that you are somehow failing at life if you indulge in the holiday season a bit. Enjoy, allow yourself some indulgence. I repeat, ENJOY.
Aside from my personal tips on trying to stay balanced and healthy at this time of year, we have a great holiday lineup for you, with tips from some amazing experts! Under Armour ambassador and hip hop yogi Shauna Harrison shares her advice for staying active while traveling; woman-on-the-town Ashley Spivey gives tips for surviving the holiday party circuit; Los Angeles-based dietitian Shira Lenchewski recommends better holiday eating choices; and our Creative Director, Adam Drake, gives us a little dose of holiday humor with a look at how Santa might not be the best role model after all. And, BEST OF ALL, the lovely ladies from Wink NYC boutique opened their doors and assisted me in styling 10 (!!) chic holiday party looks, great pieces that you can repurpose all year long.
Lastly, try to remember what this time of year is really about - joy, giving, gratitude, friends, family, and watching Love Actually and Elf on repeat. With that, I wish the happiest of holidays to all of you and our entire Sweat Life community. I could not be more grateful for your love, support, and continuing inspiration.
Stay happy, stay healthy, and enjoy this time of year!
Until next week,
Founder, CEO, and Host
The Sweat Life