I do my best to live a life of balance. I move my body often by practicing yoga, boxing, running and weight training, and I also enjoy watching Netflix all day on the couch. I eat a mostly clean diet but I will absolutely get down on some pizza with ranch. I keep a water bottle with me at all times, drink a daily kombucha (or apple cider vinegar) and I also love red wine (the bolder, the better) and sipping on a good Kentucky Bourbon, neat.
This time of year always poses the greatest challenge for living in balance. These last two weeks of December always feel chaotic – exciting and full of love and celebrations, yes – but I’m also completely thrown out of my routine with all the traveling, not getting enough sleep, eating rich, sugary foods I’m not used to eating and drinking more wine and champagne (than usual). Yoga, working out and clean eating get knocked down on the priority list, no matter how hard we try to convince ourselves that (this is the year!) it’s going to be different. Even though I fully intend to get up early and roll out my mat or go for a run – when the time comes, I’m exhausted so I sleep in, plans change and we have to head to our next destination early, or curling up with a cup of coffee on the couch catching up with family just feels right.
Our holiday consists of sleeping in different beds almost every night and bouncing around our hometown to family gatherings and visiting old friends, so it can get pretty overwhelming. If I’m not careful, by the end of the week I’ll find myself on sugar overload, dehydrated, sleep-deprived and exhausted with a weak immune system. And let’s be real – no one wants to ring in the new year sick in bed.
Maybe this really is "the year" when everything is going to go as planned, and there won't be any wine or cookies and you'll have plenty of time to workout but just in case - here are five accessible and realistic ways to help stay balanced through the holiday.
LEMON WATER. Before you reach for the coffee in the morning, start with a glass of warm water with lemon. Before I put anything else in my system, I heat up a 12 oz glass of water to lukewarm and squeeze 1/4 to 1/2 of a lemon, then after sipping (not chugging), I make a second glass. If you have time, boiling fresh ginger first (then adding lemon and water too cool it down) tastes delicious and gives your digestive system an extra boost. Since you were sleeping, you haven't drank any water for (hopefully) 8 hours, so warm water first thing in the morning can help flush the digestive system and rehydrate the body, helping your liver to do a better job at being the body's filter. Lemons also contain Vitamin C and potassium, so your body will thank you for giving it a chance to absorb these vitamins first thing in the morning - and a little immune boost.
ON THAT NOTE – HYDRATE. I travel a lot, and one of the most challenging things for me is staying well-hydrated. It starts with not wanting to make extra stops to go to the bathroom if I’m driving or having to get up on the plane (I’m a window seat girl) and then once I arrive at my destination, especially when it’s the holidays and I’m bouncing from house to house, it’s easy to forget how much water your body really needs to recover from the trip. I tend to get headaches and even worse, anxiety – when I’m dehydrated. Water makes up on average 60-70 percent of the human body. It carries hormones and nutrients to their destinations, so when you’re low on H2o, the body can get really out of whack. Your blood pressure drops causing your heart rate to increase, which leads to feeling dizzy, lightheaded, anxious and ready to hide under the covers instead of celebrating. Boosting overall hydration can help improve the function of your organs, including the liver (which may be working overtime). Drinking plenty of water is good for your digestion, good for your skin, good for your immune system – and good for your mental health. Just trust me on this one: DRINK A TON OF WATER.
GO FOR A WALK. Finding time to exercise is tough – whether you’re traveling or hosting, it’s just not easy. So you didn’t get up early to go for a run – I get it. It’s 30 degrees and miserable and you’d rather get the extra hour of sleep. Good for you! Really, I mean it – you’re allowed to chill out and you could probably use those extra ZZZs. Instead of giving yourself a hard time, grab a friend or family member you’ve been wanting to catch up with and ask them if they want to go for a stroll. It’s a great way to move your body, get some fresh air AND some quality time with someone you haven’t seen in awhile. If you have the right shoes on you can even make it a brisk walk to get your heart rate up. Do this once a day and you’ll be golden.
BE EASY ON YOURSELF. Ahhh yes…this is the toughest one, and I’m going to argue it's the most important. Here’s the deal: you want to eat one of Grandma’s special holiday cookies? EAT THE DAMN THING. Eat it, and ENJOY IT. Savor every bite. Do a little dance and tell everyone on Instagram how delicious it is. Want another glass of champagne? Have at it! There’s no way in hell I’m passing up on Aunt Jan’s Goldie Cookies, or the cheese platter, and yes – I will be sampling all the dips. There’s just one condition: you're not allowed to mentally beat yourself up after. Enjoy the cheese and the cookies and the wine tonight. Drink lots of water and eat your greens and veggies tomorrow. Overwhelming yourself with guilt takes away the joy. Everything in moderation, my friends – life is meant to be lived and celebrated.
GRATITUDE. I know, I know – “gratitude” is all the rage right now – but hear me out. When you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed with whatever situation you’re in; whether it’s family drama, lack of sleep, sugar overload, trying to be a million places at once, (insert your daily holiday crisis here: _____________), find a place to hide (bathrooms work really well), close your eyes and take 5-10 deep breaths. Think about what you are grateful for in this moment. Being surrounded by family who love you, even if they drive you crazy. Having a roof over your head, even if it’s loud and crowded out there. Having a warm meal, even if it’s not gluten-free. Think of how grateful you are to be alive, celebrating the end of another year. Gratitude changes everything, and there is always something to be grateful for.
Sending love, peace, balance and joy your way this holiday season.