Stress and the Holidays

Stress and the Holidays

So the busy holiday season has snuck up on us again! It’s time for heavy meals, shopping and cold weather. How do you feel about it? Are you relaxed and find it all enjoyable? Or are you stressed and feel like you can’t get it all done? Do you worry about every “treat” you eat? Well, if you’re like most people, you are stressed out, worried about every party and every bite of food offered! I’m here to offer you some simple tips to help!

  1. DITCH THE DIET!! Focus on maintaining through the holiday season, rather than losing – and, really, if you follow some of my advice, you will probably end up losing anyway!
  2. Drink water – ok, have a glass of wine with dinner if you must, but make sure you’re drinking plenty of water all day. You should do this every day anyway!
  3. DO NOT SKIP MEALS!!!! Eat as your normally would prior to your holiday parties and dinners.
  4. Choose a smaller plate, if that’s available. Fill your plate with veggies first, then add your meat and “candied” dishes, stuffing, rolls, etc.
  5. Enjoy your food and the company and conversation! Stop worrying about how many calories you’re eating, what type of exercise you’ll do tomorrow to burn it off and just focus on the enjoyment of the holiday.
  6. Family have you stressed out? Don’t let them get you all riled up! Instead, just listen to what they are saying. Try not to respond immediately. Don’t let them draw you into an argument or heated discussion. Respect their point, whether you agree with it or not. Give yourself a minute to respond calmly.
  7. If it’s possible go for a leisurely stroll with someone after dinner – it’s meant to be enjoyable, not exercise – instead of sitting on the couch
  8. HAVE DESSERT! No, I am not going to suggest you have fruit instead of pie. I am suggesting you choose your favorite dessert on the table. Stick to one and enjoy EVERY SINGLE BITE!
  9. Ditch the guilt and don’t punish yourself with negative self talk or over exercising.
  10. On the following day, focus on eating well – lots of veggies, lots of water.

I can’t tell you enough – if you are stressed out, it affects how your body digests food! Stress signals the body to store everything you eat as energy which causes weight gain. Yes, some people lose weight when they are stressed. That doesn’t mean they are in better health – it means their body is just pushing that food through and not absorbing the nutrients in it! Have you ever had diarrhea when you were stressed out, or couldn’t eat at all because your stomach was all in knots? There’s a reason! Without getting too scientific, it’s the way your body is designed – the sympathetic nervous system – when you are stressed, your digestive system turns off. When you are relaxed, the parasympathetic nervous system takes over and your digestion returns to normal. Your body processes all types of stress the same way – it goes into fight, flight or freeze mode. Chronic stress creates elevated insulin and cortisol and makes you store weight and fat and decreases calorie burning capacity – whether you exercise or not! If you have been struggling with losing weight, no matter what you’ve tried, look at your daily stress! Want some tips on how to reduce your stress? Working with a coach like me can help you determine what your stressors are (they’re often not what you think they are!) and how to make changes that work for you!

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