Welcome back!  In our last article, we shared six tips on how you can survive holiday temptations. As we continue to attend the holiday parties with sweets within reach, our goal is to keep you focused with helpful advice! Here are the continuing 6 tips to sip, savor and satisfy your buds without the overwhelming calorie intake.

  • Maintain Yin/Yang balance. Yin or “yoga” foods like green veggies and fruits have an airy, light, expansive quality. Yang or “weight-lifter” foods such as red meat, eggs and cheese make you feel grounded and focused. So, at your next holiday party, don’t just hover around the cheese tray but aim for some shrimp cocktail (yang) coupled with fresh veggies (yin) to get that yin/yang balance and you’ll avoid inexplicable cravings.
  •  Spice it up.  Add a dash of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes to kick your metabolism into high gear and stave off that holiday weight gain. Sweet spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom naturally reduce your cravings for sweets. Cinnamon is a powerful herb for regulating blood sugar – sprinkle it where you can! Cardamom is another delicious spice with a pungent sweet aroma that is particularly good for digesting fats in sweet desserts, so add a pinch of cinnamon/cardamom in your hot chocolate to  boost digestion and keep your metabolic engine revved up!
  •  You snooze, you lose–weight. Don’t skimp on sleep to wrap gifts or make seven-layer cookies that no one should be eating.  Researchers have found that sleep cycles are closely tied to hormones that affect appetite, energy, and metabolism. In particular, people who are sleep-deprived tend to have lower levels of the satiety hormone leptin that tells your brain you’re full and higher levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin that increases appetite. So, make sure you’re getting your 7 to 8 hours of restorative sleep to keep the holiday pounds at bay.
  • Move to de-stress. Let’s face it, the holidays are synonymous with stress. Just one snippy comment from a family member about your gift, your slinky black dress or the turkey stuffing you slaved over for hours and your stress levels go through the roof. When you are stressed, the excess cortisol (stress hormone) is designed to help you run away from a threat. The problem is that, today, our stressors aren’t the kind you can run away from. But you can lower your cortisol levels just by moving your body with 20 minutes of walking, running up and down the stairs, gyrating your hips to hypnotic tunes in a Zumba class, or doing yoga or meditation. The key is to get ANY type of movement in daily and you’ll be amazed at how effectively this quells the urge to reach for a cocktail or double chocolate chip cookie.
  • Get Slow. The season is full of holiday shopping, parties and obligations, and somehow we spend our time doing things we don’t really want to do, yet feel we should. But the truth is, life on Earth is a brief gift. Prioritize those things that make your heart sing and de-prioritize those that are not imperative. If we must accomplish many things each day, we can still change the quality with which we do things. How can you transmute that sprint to the train into something delicious instead of the usual gripping and tightening experience? Where can you find ease in the midst of stress? How can you cultivate the art of going slowly? Take a few moments before you climb out of bed in the morning to remember your dreams and to think about what you want from the day. Take the scenic route. Sit for a moment with your eyes closed when you start your computer. Check email only twice a day. Chew each morsel 20-30 times; it will force you to slow down and you’ll feel full a lot faster than shoveling food in your mouth. Put your fork down in between bites and you’ll have more control over what you eat. Add one moment here and there for slowness; it can be done simply and will have a profound effect on your well-being.
  • Create a non-food menu to nourish yourself this holiday season. Food can fill you, but not fulfill you. We have the capacity to awaken our feel good from the inside out instead of looking in the refrigerator or overindulging at holiday parties. What can you do to nourish your life and add sweetness from non-food sources? Remember to differentiate between physical versus emotional hunger and be aware of our culture’s obsession with sugar, reward and holidays. Around the holidays, the word “treat” is something that you feel guilty about, so redefine what the word “treat” means to you. Will gorging on sugary pies and cakes really make you feel good? Ask yourself, will this really make me feel good? And what am I really hungry for? Approach a treat as something that makes you feel wonderful and is nourishing to your body. Make it a conscious choice versus a fight.

Experiment with whatever helps you connect to your body and make a menu of these non-food ways that you can add sweetness and joy to your life. Perhaps get a massage or give yourself a much-needed hand massage after all that gift wrapping. Go for a scenic walk along a trail or send your partner an, “I love you” text.

I hope these tips have inspired you to stay health conscious during the holiday season and beyond. But don’t be afraid to reach out for support. You don’t have to do this alone and all Living Fit OC readers get 20% off all programs through Dec 31…visit http://zen-trition.com/health-coaching-program to learn more.