1. Inhale. Hold. Release. This morning, my very first thought upon awaking was, “I have more to do today than I have “day” to do it.” That’s a fairly coherent pre-caffeinated thought, if I do say so myself. But, man, do I hate waking up with a sense of dread because I’m so busy. In December, most of us have more “to do” than we do “day.” If that’s you, take a minute today and b-r-e-a-t-h-e. Just pausing to ask God to help you set your priorities can make a world of difference in how your day plays out. I’ve already done it twice today. In fact, I’m doing it right now.
2. If your weekend is full of Christmas cookie exchanges and lovely buffet tables, stop and enjoy. It’s perfectly fine to indulge a bit over the holidays…just be picky with what ends up on your plate (and in your mouth). You all know you feel like garbage after you eat an entire plate full of sweets and greasy appetizers. Gather your wits about you and choose the very best ones. Then, take your time and savor every bite. Mmmmm….
3. If you are not attending a Christmas cookie exchange or an event with a lovely buffet table, then eat a little less than you normally would. Try eating one salad a day, for lunch or dinner. Try a piece of fruit and an egg for breakfast. At 3 pm, when you would normally grab a snack, try a cup of hot tea instead. Drink lots of water. It’s not difficult to offset your holiday calorie intake if you just think ahead and use a little self control.
4. Forgive yourself for missing a workout. Do what you can, when you can. Remember, something is better than nothing. And if today, your workout happens to be “nothing,” then, so be it. If you have some extra time on another day, then use it to extend your workout another 15 minutes or go another mile. Today may be a “nothing” day for me. And I forgive you, Sandy.
5. And speaking of forgiving yourself, go ahead and scratch something off your Christmas To-Do List. Doesn’t look like you’ll get those Christmas cards out? No big deal. You can send them next year. Intended to make homemade gifts for grandparents and neighbors? Gift cards will do just fine. Haven’t strung the outside lights yet? That’s OK. A wreath on the door is just as festive. What can you let go of today? Go cross it off your list. Right now. I’m serious.
6. Bake the cookies with your kids. Maybe you hesitate because you don’t need another reason to indulge. Well, here’s a fitness secret: A little cookie dough by itself never made anyone fat. Besides, the pound you might gain is worth it, if it etches a life-long Christmas memory into the minds of your children. Trust me, this is time (and calories) well-invested.
7. Take healthy snacks on the go. If you’ve got a day of shopping ahead of you, grab a piece of fruit, some carrot sticks, a baggie of almonds and a giant bottle of water. Stick them in a small cooler and bring them with you in the car. Munching on these healthy, wholesome snacks between stops will help you resist the temptation to grab that Cinnabon and gingerbread latte with extra whip from the mall food court. And it will also help you enjoy (guilt-free) the Christmas cookie exchange and the lovely buffet table later. And the homemade cookies you bake with your kids.
8. Be thinking about your health and fitness goals for 2012. Do you want to lose a few pounds? Do you want more energy? Do you want to learn to cook healthier meals at home? Do you want to try a new program (Hello? P90X2!!). Do you want to take a spinning class? Train for a 5K? Take up martial arts? Now’s the time to be plotting and planning and researching and dreaming. For me, half the battle of maintaining a fit and healthy body is fought in my mind, not in the kitchen or in the gym. With a clear goal and a do-able plan, I am always more confident and thus, more successful.
9. Take a Sabbath. Or a Half-Sabbath. Or a Quarter-Sabbath. Just find some time over the next few weeks to set aside your work for a day or for a few hours. The earth will not fall off its axis if you do. I promise.
10. Be nice. Even when you don’t feel like it…to the cashier who forgets to give you the sale price and has to call the manager to void the sale and start over. To the grocery bagger who promises she’ll pack all your cold stuff together, but then places the sour cream and one packet of ground beef in with your pantry items. To the child who collapses into a puddle on the floor whining when you pick her up from preschool because she’s eaten too many sweets. To the spouse who in all likelihood did absolutely nothing wrong, except maybe be in the room when you barreled through on your way to the next thing. Niceness makes the day go better. (Note: These are NOT examples from my real life. Purely hypothetical.)
11. Be present. If you find yourself racing from place to place, and the people around you are but blurry representations of their former selves…STOP. Last night, after a day of rushing around from carpool to cooking to cleaning to laundry to phone calls, I found myself rushing through a cold parking lot into a crowded school auditorium, where I pushed past the hundreds of other parents to find a decent seat. After plopping down, I stopped. And I just….looked. To my left, was my 5-year-old asking me to help her put fairy stickers in her sticker book. To my right, was a dear friend I hadn’t seen in a month. On the stage, was my oldest daughter, perfectly poised with a violin on her shoulder. I wasn’t actually there, though. Know what I mean? The pace of the day had already propelled my mind well into the future, where I was planning what I needed to do once the concert was over. At that moment, I had to physically WILL my mind to engage in the beauty of the people in my immediate presence. I resisted the temptation to rush through this sacred (yes, sacred!) experience. For the next two hours, I cleared my mind of all the junk I brought into the auditorium and all I had to do after we left. Instead, I chose to be present.
I pray you have a peaceful, productive and healthy Christmas season, friends.
By the way, what did you cross off your to-do list?