Navigating the Holidays

We have made it through most of the year and now is when we embark on months of holidays. Though holidays typically mean celebrations and happiness, it also means food buffets, desserts and stress. The holiday season can bring on a lot of stress and emotional eating due to loved ones not being around, financial issues, daylight savings and more. Don’t let the stress of the season affect your well being or waistline. Take charge this season and start addressing the issues that may be sabotaging you.

One of the simplest methods of de-stressing yourself is by taking the time to breathe. Most people in our society do not breathe correctly. The average person breathes roughly 18 times per minute when a more ideal rate is 8-10 breaths per minute (How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy, Paul Chek). By breathing quickly, you are making your body believe it is in a threatening situation. Threatening situations release your fight or flight hormones where your body only focuses on survival from the current situation. How might breathing affect your weight you may be wondering? When you keep your body at a constant state of stress, your digestive tract can’t work properly. You will be unable to break food products down properly which then leaves too many fats and sugars roaming around your system. These will eventually store as fat. By slowing down your breathing, you can decrease your heart rate removing the fear that your body is in danger. In return your body can work more effectively.

Another thing the holiday season brings is all those pesky but delicious parties filled with food. One of the keys to success with weight loss is the old motto “everything in moderation.” This motto means every now and then, not once a week for an entire month. Between work parties, family parties, Thanksgiving and everything else in between, it’s hard to fight your case of doing things in moderation. When it comes to your parties remember to keep your eating schedule the same that day. Wake up, have a good protein filled breakfast and lunch with snacks during the day. This will allow you to arrive at the party feeling satisfied, helping you to eat less. When you skip your meals during the day to “save calories” for later, your metabolism slows down and you arrive to the buffet starving, looking for the carbohydrates. After having your protein meals all day long, remember to stick to protein and vegetables at the party; these will satisfy you. If this is the one event you plan to splurge on, treat yourself with one item. Whether that is a dessert or pasta dish, choose one small portion of it then walk away. In almost all cases, it is not the one time you treated yourself that causes weight gain, it is the leftovers or continual overeating.

The holidays are meant to be enjoyed though there are always circumstances that may make them more of a hassle. Let this holiday season be enjoyed. Take your time each day to practice your breathing techniques. It can offer you a lot more health benefits than just helping your weight. Also, don’t restrict yourself too much. Choose something to enjoy and have a little, just once. Remember your bigger goal, to be healthy. In order to achieve this goal, you cannot fall back into your old habits. Be strong this season and realize you have the will power to say no and determination to stay focused.

Stress and breathing information gathered from Book: How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy by Paul Chek

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