Truth is, when you're trying to eat healthy, a holiday coming up can seem overwhelming!
You want to enjoy visiting family & friends, but you don't necessarily want to jump off the healthy-living-bandwagon either! It is easy though (really, really easy!) to get caught up in eating 'til it hurts, trying every creamy, fatty, salty & tasty thing you see, and topping it all off with a glass or two (or bottle) of wine! Whomp whomp.
There are ways to get through, ya just need to keep your head screwed on tight, and stay calm! : )
Follow me while I offer you 5 tips to help you get through the holiday season without loosing your mind (or waistline)!
Going to someones house in the evening where you'll be having a feast, or meeting up with friends at a restaurant? Then consider not eating a monster breakfast & lunch first!
It can be a bad idea to show up starving because then you might be inclined to scarf down every morsel you see, but showing up already thoroughly fed, then feeling like it'll be rude to not eat dinner (and dessert) can leave you overly full of food and calories.
And, knowing what might be for dinner can help you decide what things to eat beforehand. Eating raw fruits and veggies during the day can help you get the nutrients you need that you may not get at dinner, and they won't leave you feeling stuffed and uncomfortable!
Lastly, be prepared to say no! Don't be mean, but you don't have to eat everything that is offered to you! You can politely say "no thank-you".
Make a Healthy Contribution
Going to a pot luck? Bring a tray of veggies or fruit! They aren't always something people think to bring, but in my experience, they always get eaten up! And make it a good colourful tray of food, it gives lots of variety and ensures everyone finds something they like. And, it means you know you'll be getting a serving or two of goodness!
It may seem like a boring contribution, but it will be appreciated. Take the healthy tray a step further by offering a healthier dip like hummus, guacamole, or try one of these 5 dips from Body Building.com, and don't even bother with fruit dip! What the heck?! Fruit is natures candy, and you need a dip for it? I think not. Good golly. I feel strongly about fruit dip being ridiculous, but if you insist on having it, try to whip up a healthy version like mixing greek yogurt, honey and cinnamon together. But I still think it's ridiculous.
Bringing these may also help you if there are a bunch of pre-dinner snacks and appetizers, and will give you a healthy option to mix in with the hors d'oeuvres or candied nuts you may sample.
One last note, if you're short on time or ambition, both veggie and fruit trays can be purchased at grocery stores, all ready for you! And if you have time, ambition, and don't want to bring something "boring", there are many ways to make a fruit or veggie tray amazing! Check out some of those amazing images above!
Plan to Enjoy
If you say, "I am not going to eat ANY sweets tonight!"....you probably will. Thumbs down. The thumbs down is not because you couldn't resist, but that you're now lugging around guilt over a failed healthy eating attempt, and that guilt could lead you to keep making bad choices because, "you've already messed up".
Well, my dear friend, stop that! I said stop it! : )
Try telling yourself instead, "I know there will be lots of dessert there tonight, and I love chocolate, so I will try a chocolate dessert if there is one that looks great!", or, "I love cheesecake, so if there is one I'll have a slice!". Make it part of your plan, your first draft, black and white plan. Not your emergency, all systems failing plan! The holidays often bring out specific desserts or foods that are special, so keep those in mind too. Instead of inhaling that store bought cookie you can literally buy any time you wanted, enjoy the amazing pumpkin pie your aunt brings, or buttery & beautifully frosted shortbread cookies (my weakness!)
You know what makes off-limits food seem super-duper irresistible? Telling yourself you can't have any of them! It's true! Studies have shown that feeling deprived (even if you are well fed) can lead to over-eating! Geepers!
Be kind to yourself, show yourself some grace, and plan to enjoy some treats. SOME treats, not ALL the treats. :) ....I am talking to my own sweet tooth....
If you drink wine, don't use a jumbo wine glass if you can help it, A huge glass looks sad half-full, but a smaller glass looks more satisfying filled to the top! It can still be a 6 oz serving, but they will have a different effect on your mind and how you see it. You feel like you are enjoying a nice full glass of wine, which will leave you feeling more satisfied with it. The photo above shows a 6oz serving of wine in different glasses, and you can see the difference! Also, I know there are "rules" about which glass is for which type of wine....but let's be honest, unless you're a wine connoisseur (which most of us are not!), you won't really notice the difference!
If you enjoy a mixed drink, try it in a tumbler instead of in a tall glass. You will be drinking just a little less liquor, and less mix too. And while we're at it, try having your mix with ice and water, carbonated water (otherwise known as soda water, club soda, sparkling water, or fizzy water). There are even quite a few types of fruit flavoured fizzy waters that don't contain any added sugar and make a nice alternative if you really dislike plain carbonated water. A real fruit, no sugar added fruit juice is also a better choice than (soda) pop or artificial, full of sugar juice.
If you have the option, beers, ciders or anything out of a can or bottle can be poured into a glass. Taking the time to pour the drink into a glass helps you stop and take notice of your actions and be a little more mentally aware of your drinking.
And don't forget to drink water! Try your darndest to alternate between alcohol & water as this will keep you from drinking too much, and will help you feel better the next day!
And, of course, be sure to fit in some exercise!
It can seem difficult to find the time or motivation, but take 10-15 minutes to do a HIIT workout, or go for an after dinner walk with family, just find something you can do to help your body get moving and feeling it's best!
I created the workout above with maximum sweat in mind! It's a tough one! Some of the moves may be unfamiliar (like butt kickers or the extreme mule kick-it's my new favourite move!), but do your best, if you don't know what something is, do something similar (like a regular ab crunch instead of a v-sit) push yourself, and you'll be glad you did!
Most important during this time is to be realistic. Life gets turned upside down, and your usual food & exercise plan will shaken up! Don't expect to eat a completely clean diet while visiting your best-baker-in-the-world sister, or most-amazing-deep-fried turkey uncle! Don't expect to be able to go for a 1 hour bike ride when you've got all your family over, or plan a 2 hour gym excursion when you are out of town visiting family or friends! Maybe you will manage to do those things, but there is a better chance you won't!
Be prepared for glitches, be prepared for temptations, be prepared for peer pressure, be prepared to feel lazy and tired, but be prepared to do your holiday best! Not your usual best, but your holiday best! There is a difference!
Above all else, enjoy whatever the holiday season means to you and your family. Whether it's simple or complex, fancy or not so much, just take the time to appreciate whatever Christmas offers you. And be sure to look at what you can offer Christmas! Giving & sharing, offering peace and joy, these are parts of Christmas you can give away to anyone and everyone. Smiling at someone, holding the door open, just putting others first during this hectic season can make the season bright!
How was the weekend for all? I feel like mine was a blur actually....Saturday I embarked on a shopping adventure never to be rivalled by anyone anywhere ever for all of time!!! Hahaha....ok, perhaps I am being just a teeeeny weeeeeny bit overly dramatic, but it went something like this (let your mind play some dream sequence music here)....
'Twas just this past Saturday.....
I nominated myself to buy gifts for 19 children in our family, to make things simpler for one and all (I am NOT included in the one and all!) and so I drive into the big city and decide my first stop will be the mall (What? The mall!?! Who does that on the 2nd last shopping Saturday of the Christmas season!?! It's me. I do. Because I'm a big dumb dumb). Not only did I go to the mall, but I went to Toys R Us! (I know, I'm a psycho!)
I walk into a store that seems more like a mad-house for crazy (and angry) people, and realize quickly that my heart is racing, I'm sweating, I'm smiling at strangers who are thinking I"M the mental one, and are therefore not smiling back at me, and I think I'm about to go into cardiac arrest!
So, I left Toys R Us! I semi-ran out of there, actually.....I was there for about 20 minutes and knew that A:the empty and/or wildly messy shelves were not going to yield anything worth looking for, and B: that everything seemed just a little more expensive than usual....? Do they put the prices up knowing crazy people will do anything to get that exact thing their child wanted? Golly gee.
So, I left the loonie-bin and decided I would go to Party City (never been? It's puuuurdy much my fav place! You can shop it online too, fyi!) It is full to the roof of every party thing imaginable, including party favours, games and toys, candy (sooooo much candy!!!), and really helpful staff (at least here at the Belleville location).
2 1/2 hours later.....I emerge, exhausted, triumphant, carrying many large bags bursting with childhood glee (overly dramatic again? Sorry).
I wasn't actually completely finished, and headed over to Michaels Arts & Crafts store for a few more items, then (after I went to the Theatre for a 2 hour production meeting for the upcoming musical!!!) I headed to Wal-Mart for my last few things I needed to find! I realized at some point I was talking out loud to myself about toys I was looking at, laughing out loud at someone who made an announcement on the p.a. system who sounded like Pee-wee Herman, and then I opened a bag of chocolate covered ju-jubes and started eating them as I finished up (yes, I paid for them!). I believe I was at the end of my "normal"!
I spent about 40 minutes in Wal-Mart, and then I was finally, finally finished with the day of craziness!
....until I got home and had to unload all the loot and sort & organize it and make sure I had gotten a fair amount of this and that for each child/age group, etc.....
Yes, I know it doesn't have that usual feel a classic Christmas story should have, but I think it's awesome. I shall tell the story for years to come to my children, and my children's children, gathered around the fireplace each wintry Christmas eve..... : )
Let's move on, shaaaall we!?!
I wanted to chat today about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). It is my favourite type of exercise because it gets a lot done in a short amount of time!
HIIT is a method of exercise where you alternate between high intensity, aerobic exercises and low-intensity, recovery exercises.
I didn't know about "HIIT" until March 2014, but I had done it in the past, just by a different name.
Someone had mentioned to me that their doctor had recommend they try "bursting" exercises instead of the usual 20 minute stationary bike ride. The Dr. told my friend that they should try 1 minute of intense, full speed stationary bike riding, then followed by 1 minute of ab crunches, pushups, holding a plank, and any other strength building exercise that she could "recover" in.
I thought this method was interesting, but didn't put it into practice until the summer of 2010 when I was in need of shedding some pregnancy weight I was lugging around.
We were staying in a very small cottage for about 16 weeks, and the space I had to work in was very small, but I figured I could do 10 minutes a day, and that would be a great start to feeling better and loosing some weight.
Well, I was literally shocked at the way it started to change my body! My initial "bursts" were really basic (I had very limited internet access and so I just wrote out a list of ten exercises I could do and had a timer going on the computer to help), but this "bursting" thing was really effective!
What makes "bursting" or HIIT so effective?
According to the Daily Burn, "this type of training gets and keeps your heart rate up and burns more fat in less time. “A high-intensity workout increases the body’s need for oxygen during the effort and creates an oxygen shortage, causing your body to ask for more oxygen during recovery,” says Eric Salvador, NASM, NSCA, head instructor at The Fhitting Room in New York City. “This afterburn effect is referred to as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) and is the reason why intense exercise will help burn more fat and calories than regular aerobic and steady-state workouts.”
Other reasons for HIIT being so effective (and popular) are that it increases your metabolism, it's convenient and can be as long or short as you want, and you can do it without any equipment! This article at Simply Shredded talks about many of the pros and medical studies done on the benefits of HIIT.
The truth is, I don't really like running. I don't like hour-long cardio sessions. I like biking....but I don't own a bike. I don't live close to a pool, and I sure don't live close to a gym, and I couldn't afford it even if there was one right next door!
HIIT is an amazing fitness solution for a lot of people. If you're older, out of shape, new to exercise, short on time, have no equipment, you can make this work for you. And why not? Why not trying to give yourself your best health you can? I'm not getting paid to sell anything here friends, I just cannot share enough about HIIT training! : )
The last year or so I have loved adding jump-rope to my training. I works a lot of muscles and gets you red-faced and out of breath quick!
Anywho, let me share with you some videos that I enjoy....
Below is a 10 minute, full body HIIT workout from Class FitSugar (of POPSUGAR Fitness) that I enjoy!
Next up is a 10 minute jump rope & ab HIIT that has you alternating between jumping rope, then doing a plank variation. This woman (Sara) is a little weird, funny, rude, but I really like this video.
And, of course, I always like having a non-internet reliant idea for a workout, so I like to use my "Do Anywhere" 10 minute HIIT.
So, thoughts, ideas, failures, successes you want to share, please do! Please do say hello and let me know if you've tried HIIT, or if you want to!
I hope that this brief info about High Intensity Interval Training gave you some new ideas about fitness and working out. Put away the dated notion of endless cardio with little to no results! Embrace short bursts of really hard work with really big results! Imagine me now, standing on my soap box at the corner saying all of this to you in a big, dramatic, using lots of hand gestures kind of way! : )
P.S. I need to remind ya'll that I am not a health care practitioner, and my opinions are my own. If you decide to try something I recommend or talk about, you do so at your own risk. You can read my full Health & Fitness Disclaimer here.
I'm not 100% sure when or where I first was introduced to Andrea @ I'mperfect Life, but she is so inspiring!
She made me re-think "perfect", "strong", and "fit".
On her website, I'mperfectlife.net, she has an atricle titled "10 Reasons I Love My Ugly Body", and I think the title gives you an idea of how awesome she is!
Below is a photo of Andrea with this caption above it:
Even though I have lost 164 lbs and I am at my doctor’s goal weight...
Even though I have been doing crossfit 4-5 days a week for almost 2 years and eat a very clean diet (90% of the time)…
Even though I am a certified personal trainer and a Spartan, a Rugged Maniac, a Warrior and a Triathlete....
This is what my body looks like (almost) naked
She says of this article (emphasis mine), "My own mind-shift allowed me to see the value of my body far beyond its looks and truly appreciate it for what it allows me to do…live a life of freedom"
I know so many people (myself included) who struggle with their own bodies instead of just seeing how amazing they are, right where they are!
How many new Moms have said "oh, I'm so fat now, I need to get back into shape", while ignoring the fact that they just grew a baby inside of them!!!! That's pretty amazing, but we've become a society of people who think that being skinny is all that matters!
When I first started working out to get healthy & fit again in March 2014, I remember finishing some workouts saying, "I cannot believe I got through that!!! I would feel so amazing for my hard work, but that high would only last until I saw that my body wasn't changing overnight!
"Gosh-darn-it, Amy-Lyn!" my current self would say to that former self! "Appreciate how hard you worked!", "Think of how many pushups you did!!!", "You completed Jillian Michaels '6 Week 6 Pack' series!", "You da bomb!" : ) Ok, no version of myself would have said that last bit, but my current self is now rooting and cheering for my former self! Why? Because I am learning to not scold and criticize my body!
I have literally (literally!) been criticizing myself for as long as I can remember! Even as a young girl, I knew my butt was flat, I had a lower belly pooch, my shoulders were (are!) really broad for my pea-sized head! What purpose has this served except to leave me feeling unhappy about any effort I put in?
Andrea of I'mperfect Life has a dare, and I love it! I've done it, and it is a total game-changer!
I am daring you to do this! Start today!
As a society, we didn't always see imperfections the way we do now!
I found something online that made me laugh, it said:
Can we please go back to the Middle Ages where being fat and pale was considered beautiful?
Beautiful in the wrong century
We swing back and forth in this culture on how we view beauty, but on either side of the pendulum, bodies are being valued by some societal system determined by who exactly....? Too fat? Ugly. Too skinny? Ugly. Too this, too that, ugly, ugly.
We are walking around as if life were only skin deep, which (we all know!) it is not!
I tell my girls this very often; what matters most, what is most beautiful, is your heart! A heart that judges others and judges oneself is black and ugly. Seeing beauty in what matters is a life changer, a world changer!!!
So, take this dare, and do it! Start by taking a look at yourself and say something nice!
I want to say this to you:
It's Me, Amy-Lyn!
Welcome to my