How To Have Less Stress And More Fun This Holiday Season

 

Less Stress And More Fun This Holiday Season

Photo is of our dog Hoppy and courtesy of Happy Tails in Montara.  It was taken after Hoppy’s grooming appointment! 

 

The holiday season is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.  However, with parties to attend, gifts to buy, and a longer than normal to do list, the real meaning of this season can sometimes get lost.

Fortunately, there are no rules when it comes to celebrating the holiday season.  You get to decide how much you want to commit to.  Just like your fitness program, how you decide to spend the holiday season is totally up to you.

Here are seven helpful tips to help you enjoy a fun, meaningful, and stress-free holiday season.

1. Plan Ahead.

One of the best ways to avoid stress during the holidays is to  plan ahead. Take a moment to”mind dump” and list everything that is on your plate, such as gift shopping, Christmas parties and recipes to make. When you’re done, schedule important dates on your calendar  to make sure you remember your special events. Mental notes are a great place to start, however getting them all down on paper will give you a chance to prioritize what’s most important to you.

2. Don’t try to go at it alone.

Ask for help.  Allow each member of the family or your friends to pitch in. Need help cooking? Maybe your partner can help you out. If you don’t like wrapping presents, find someone in your family who sees it as therapeutic instead of overwhelming.  I’m more of a savory cook than a baker, so making sweets is out of my comfort zone.  However, my Uncle Paul loves to bake pies so we let him take care of dessert.

3. It’s OK to Say ‘No.’

Over-committing and over-scheduling can happen more often during the holiday season. It can be hard to say ‘no,’ because you don’t want to miss out on all of the fun or may feel obligated to say yes. However, over scheduling can lead to anxiety and stress. Remember that it’s OK to say ‘no.’ People will understand that this is a busy time of the year and you can’t do it all.

4. Prioritize Time To take care of yourself.

Just because the holiday season is all about giving, it doesn’t mean you should let your own needs fall to the side. Make sure to schedule time for yourself to do the things that help you to recharge.  For me, the daily hike with our dogs is exercise and therapy so I make sure that I set aside time each day to take them out.

5.  Set a Budget.

While you probably won’t see those holiday credit card statements until January, you may still feel the stress while checking out at the register.  Spending more money than your budget allows can make you feel less like Santa and more like the Grinch.  Remember that it’s the thought that counts.  Most people care more that you remembered them than they do about receiving a pricey gift.  A heartfelt note or handmade gift can leave a lasting impression on someone’s heart.

 

6. Focus on What’s Important.

One of the biggest causes of stress over the holidays is the desire to create the “picture perfect” setting. Remember that it is OK if things don’t go according to the plan. Don’t worry about the burnt cookies or that little disagreement between two of your relatives. Let go of expectations and focus on  the reason for the season.

7.  Be flexible.

It’s important to plan, however I recommend allowing yourself the flexibility to be spontaneous and savor precious moments.  The holidays are supposed to be enjoyed so give yourself permission to take advantage of last minute outings, ideas, or visits that can lead to forever memories.

May your holiday season be filled with many blessings!

Shared with love,

Jennifer

 

One Simple Diet Tip For The Holidays

Happy Thanksgiving from Personal Trainer & Lifestyle Coach Jennifer Ledford!

One Simple Diet Tip For The Holidays

Traditionally, the Thanksgiving holiday is a day to celebrate how grateful we are for the blessings in our lives.  One of the ways we celebrate our thanks is to enjoy a meal with family and/or friends.

For the diet industry, this season has become a time to capitalize on selling “guilt free” holiday eating tips to the public.  Talk about a total buzz kill.

First off, guilt should never be associated with food ever.  While the diet industry might mean well, research continues to prove that diets cause more harm than good, and more stress than pleasure.  So why on earth, should any of us want to go into diet mode during the holiday season?

I can give you a list of reasons why I recommend you avoid dieting during the holidays and every day of your life.  However, in an effort to keep this blog post short, (some of you may be busy and/or traveling this week), I’m offering one simple tip when it comes to the holidays and food.  Enjoy yourself. 

I’m not suggesting you completely disregard self control.  That might actually make you feel kind of yucky.  What I am suggesting is that you enjoy yourself and enter into this holiday season with a sense of peace around food.  Whether you are celebrating in a large group or spending the holidays quietly at home, allow yourself to have fun, give thanks, and taste all that the season has to offer.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

With Love,

Jennifer

How Lowering Stress Can Positively Affect Your Weight

Lower Stress Positively Affects Weight

 

For most of us, stress is a part of life that we need to deal with.  Unfortunately, research shows us that too much stress can negatively affect our weight.

I personally believe that the stress component in people’s lives is often overlooked by the health and fitness industry.   A client can be eating well and exercising regularly, however if the client is under continual stress it can prevent them from losing weight and in some cases even cause them to gain weight.  Diet and exercise is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to overall health and wellness.

We recently moved to a slower paced community and have simplified our lifestyle.  One of the first things that changed for me was my sleeping patterns.  I’ll be the first to admit that my sleep was not great before we moved.   I’m happy to report that I am sleeping better and experiencing real rest.  What happened after I began sleeping better was interesting.

Over the past few months I’ve noticed that all of my clothes are fitting a bit looser. I stopped weighing myself regularly years ago due to the emotional stress it can cause so I can’t tell you how much weight I have lost.  However, I know for sure that I have naturally dropped a few pounds.

It’s really important for me to share that I WAS NOT trying to loose weight.  I have not made any changes to my diet and I am exercising at a level that is appropriate for me while I recover from  multiple injuries.  My health and fitness goals are rooted in self care and happiness rather than a number on a scale, which is why I believe my recent weight loss is  a result of stress reduction.  Before we moved,  I was eating well and exercising most days of the week.  I believe that my personal experience helps support the research that if you are under constant stress, diet and exercise alone may not be enough to help you lose and/or maintain your weight.

It’s pretty safe to assume that no matter how good we are at limiting the stress in our lives we will still have to manage a certain amount of it.   Here are five ways to limit stress in your life and protect your body from it:

 

FIVE WAYS TO LIMIT STRESS

 

Ditch diets for good.  Research shows that constant dieting can cause cortisol levels to rise as much as 18%.  When your cortisol levels rise, your blood sugar gets out of whack, first rising, then plummeting. This can make you cranky and super hungry even if you don’t need the extra calories.

Deficiencies in B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium are stressful to your body.  Diets that suggest eliminating certain foods and/or food groups from your diet can contribute to a lack of these important nutrients.  These deficiencies can lead to increased cortisol levels and food cravings.  Start the day off strong with a breakfast that includes stress reducing nutrition.  Foods like oranges, grapefruits, or a large handful of strawberries supply  vitamin C and 6 to 8 ounces of yogurt contains calcium and magnesium.  Make sure to include carbs like a whole grain bagel or toast and healthy fats like peanut butter. Whole grains are loaded with B vitamins, while peanut butter has fatty acids that can lower stress hormones in your body.

Instead of dieting, try eating as many whole foods as possible.  Eating whole foods can help contribute to better energy which is part of self care. Do your best to make sure to choose foods you enjoy and avoid being too rigid about everything you eat.

Get enough sleep.  Substantial medical evidence is telling us that a lack of sleep affects hormones which are linked to an increase in appetite. Your body becomes less satisfied and you are tempted to eat more food than you may actually need.

Sleep deprivation can also affect your hormones in such a way that your metabolism will literally slow down.  I believe that is what happened in my case, and why I lost weight when I started to get more sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.  A few nights of solid sleep can bring your body back into balance, and getting enough regular sleep helps keep it there.

 

Do a little strength training.  Moving your muscles is an effective, instant stress reliever. It actually sends a message to your body that you are escaping the source of your stress.  Exercise helps your blood circulate more quickly, transporting the cortisol to your kidneys and flushing it out of your system.  Try doing at least one strength exercise per day like squats, push ups, or ab work.  Even taking a stroll on your lunch break will help. In one study researchers found that 18 minutes of walking 3 times per week can quickly lower stress hormone levels by 15%.
You might want to cut back on caffeine.  Total disclaimer, I am a coffee drinker and have no plans to give it up right now so I’m not asking you to.  A certain amount of coffee is actually good for most people due to the many health benefits it offers.  However, if you find it’s keeping you up at night you may want to cut back.
Create a healthy environment.  It’s important for us to be at peace where we live, work, and play.  Things like nurturing relationships, setting healthy boundaries, removing clutter from your home or life, planning family meals, taking time off to visit places that make you feel happy and restored, or spending time with your pets without your phone in hand are all examples of working  toward creating a healthy environment.

Limiting stress in our lives is extremely personal and looks different for each individual.  We are all on our own personal journey.  What’s important to remember is that health and wellness is about self care and enjoying life.  Not a specific number on a scale.

Have a wonderful week!
Shared with love,
Jennifer