We often worry about holiday pudge, about when those pounds from all we’re eating are going to sneak right onto our butts. Dear Santa, I don’t want my hips to look like that this year.
Instead of offering a bunch of ideas to stay skinny during the holidays, I’d like to address what I think the real problem is: stress management. It’s not lack of time, we just need to find ways to reduce holiday stress.
The realization hit me at 5:oo pm at a small cafe in a mall outside Boston this past weekend. A kid was screaming bloody murder, strapped tight in her stroller while the mother blathered on with a friend and completely ignored her daughter. I felt the tension in my shoulders mount, weariness from carrying bags turning into knots of pain. What was wrong with that woman for ignoring her kid? Geez?!!
The worst of it was I thought I’d be done shopping by 3:00. I mean completely done, every gift bought, and me sitting with a Cheshire cat grin at home feeling all superior to the other shoppers still struggling along. Well, nothing jumped out at me, I bought a few gifts, and mostly came home with some sweaters for myself. Not exactly what I had in mind … although the new purple sweater I got is totally adorable. (But I digress.)
My point is that the holidays create a lot of holiday stress. And how are we tempted to calm it? With an overabundance of snacks, from candy canes to cupcakes, from fruitcake to Christmas cookies. They’re a lot more ubiquitous this time of year and a lot harder to resist. Chocolate does work as a mild sedative after all … our bodies don’t see the problem with the whole idea. It’s just our wardrobe that complains in a few weeks when we try to sausage ourselves into our now too-tight clothes.
There is a way around this, of course. Instead of trying to resist the temptations try to head them off at the pass by managing your holiday stress. Have a game plan when it comes to gift buying. Stick with a reasonable budget instead of worrying about the January credit card bills. Stay as much as humanly possible on your normal workout schedule because these will work off a lot of tension and leave you a lot happier.
Don’t forget to remind yourself that this is the holidays and they are filled with lots of magical moments. The night you decorate the tree, the extra time you get to spend with friends and loved ones, the snuggling with your honey under the blanket with a cup of cocoa, the crackling fire, and the great book you can’t wait to read. And so many more. There are lots of reasons to have holiday stress, but the reason why we do this whole thing is because the end result is well worth the effort.
photo credit: Benson Kua