Janice Milliman, Quit Coach, Service Delivery:
The holidays are a fun time, but can also be a time of great stress and overindulgence. At Free & Clear we're in the business of helping people make healthy choices around many issues like stress and food. Our ability to coach someone about healthy choices comes from a strong foundation of people who "practice what they preach."
I find it challenging at times to manage stress, especially during the holidays. My healthy coping skills (yoga or reading) can be easily forgotten as I slip into a pattern of unhealthy ones (such as foregoing adequate sleep to watch TV). Poorly managed stress can cause physiologic effects such as cardiovascular disease or a lowered immune system. The American Psychological Association (APA) found truth in the old saying that "stress ages a person." In the study, women who for many years cared for an ill or disabled family member were no longer able to fully regenerate blood cells, thus found to be physically a decade older than their chronological age. That alone is enough for me to be motivated to manage stress and avoid speeding up the aging process.
I'm also a recovering carb-aholic. The holidays always make me think of Grandma's homemade shortbread, or my favorite commercially made holiday cookies: shortbread stars with red sugar sprinkles. My mouth waters just thinking about them. Like many people, I can't have just one. When I go for the shortbread, I go all in.
According to The American Dietetic Association (ADA), "On average, Americans gain approximately one to two pounds during the holiday season. While this weight gain isn't dramatic, research shows it tends to stick and accumulate over the years." After five holiday seasons, that could add up to an extra 5-10 pounds. Fortunately, the ADA also says, "...those pounds can be avoided through mindful eating in moderation…" A few of the ADA's suggestions are: don't skip meals throughout the day which may result in overeating later, use a smaller plate to better manage portion control, eat slowly and wait ten minutes before returning for a second helping.
I'm fortunate to be surrounded by colleagues who have great coping skills. Having a few extra coping skills in your back pocket could really make a positive difference this holiday season. So, I asked my colleagues across various departments how they minimize stress and overindulgence (see the questions and responses below). Now I won't forget my coping skills, and don't have any excuse for not "practicing what I preach." How do you plan to cope this holiday season?
If you saw a plate of your favorite holiday cookies, how would you manage to have just one, or none at all?
• I try to be very thoughtful about what I eat and if I really wanted a cookie, I would have just one and try to enjoy it while eating it.... paying attention to how it tastes. I've noticed that sometimes things don't taste as good as I think they will.
• Drink a favorite low calorie beverage and be too full to eat cookies...or walk away.
Instead of depriving myself I'll have just one. I sample my favorites so I don't feel like I'm missing out. My motto: Sample a little, rather than gorge out of temptation.
• Grab a plate full of veggies or fruit and go socialize AWAY from the cookie table.
• I chew gum. Cookies and gum do not mix.
• I tell myself, or if someone is offering, "Not now, I'll come back later." Then I find something else to distract myself. If I eat one, I'm done for!
• I would probably allow myself one, and make a "pact" with someone else who wants to make healthier choices too.
Holidays are fun, but also can be stressful. How do you cope with the stress of holiday time?
• I spend more time with friends and family and try to see the holidays through the eyes of my children. They don't get stressed, they just get excited!
• Volunteer or help someone else less fortunate. Helping others takes the focus off of our own stressors and reminds us of the important things in life.
• I keep a mandatory date night with my spouse or a friend on Sundays, and I take 20 minutes a day to do something I love.
• I carve out 'me' time before bed for a bubble bath.
• I maintain my workout schedule throughout the week, make sure to get enough sleep, and plan to try some yoga.
• Avoid over scheduling. There are always more things than one person can possibly do.
• Remind myself the holidays are about LOVE, not material things. I feel more present and HAPPY that I am here to enjoy my family and animals.