Thanksgiving week is here. We all know what that means - the fast track into the "most wonderful time of the year!" Unfortunately, the last couple months of the year can also be the most stressful. Here are five ways to beat the blahs and feel happy, healthy, and strong this season.
1. Find a friend
Everything is easier when you have a co-pilot on your side! Find a friend who is willing to keep you on track this season - when you do the same for her! Carve out time together to head to the gym, go on a walk, or meet for tea. Healthy relationships and knowing that someone is in your corner can have profound effects on your success. Find someone you can trust and who will keep you motivated! Most importantly, commit to FUN!
2. Focus on feelings
How do you want to feel? This novel concept can place healthy priorities at the forefront. Take a few moments to solidify your Core Desired Feelings (CDFs), and let those feelings fuel your decision-making throughout the season. Pick up a copy of Danielle LaPorte's The Desire Map, or better yet, ready yourself for an expansive and enlightening look at your goals and CDFs with my day-long Radical Passion Desire Map Playshop on December 31st. By bringing your desired feelings to the forefront, you can face huge the New Year with renewed focus.
3. Plan to succeed
You've heard the expression "Fail to plan, plan to fail!" I prefer a more positive approach. Your body wants and deserves love, in all its fresh/true/ripe/real goodness. Make a weekly meal plan and prep meals and snacks in advance (check out these amazing meal prep photos!). Stock your refrigerator and pantry with wholesome foods. Whip up some warm and nourishing meals that will compliment the season.
4. Mindfulness matters
Whatever actions you take this season, head into them with gratitude. This sentiment often pops up in November, when many people make a conscious effort to recognize the myriad reasons in their life to feel grateful. Bring this practice into your daily life. By keeping a gratitude journal, noting things or events around you that bring you joy, or whispering "thank you" upon arising in the morning, gratitude can surge. When we walk in gratitude, our focus shines outward to the world and we begin to step into the best versions of ourselves. For a dedicated step into the gratefulness journey, please join my free Facebook group dedicated to experiencing gratitude and Desire Mapping throughout the whole month of November.
5. Join the Holiday Survival Camp at BFF!
Back by popular demand, my Holiday Survival Camp is your opportunity to dive into the busy and stressful holiday season with tools to help you thrive! This 6-week program focuses on effective workouts, clean eating tips and tricks, online motivation and support, and challenges and assignments to keep you committed.
Space is limited, so be sure to book your spot today. Oh, and invite your friends! This course is often a new member's first experience of what we have to offer at Balance - fun, strength, camaraderie, and effective workouts.
You deserve the best!
This holiday season, commit to the best and highest version of yourself. Step away and unplug on a daily basis. Allow ample time for rest when your mind and body require it. Spend time with people who make you happy. Reach out to those who can be there for you. Dedicate a part of each day or week to random acts of kindness. Above all, let the joy of the season into you heart, and believe in your ability to thrive.
Back in June, I gave my clients the challenge of trying one new way to move their bodies each week: try a new class, hike a new path, visit a new facility, lift a new weight. I think it's essential that we continuously learn new things about ourselves - both mentally and physically.
Last night, I went on a run with a new group I'd not run with before. It was co-sponsored by a local running store. One woman posted on the invite that she wasn't going to attend because she supports another local running store.
I think this is so silly. I believe that my industry - the wellness and fitness industry - has a marvelous opportunity to support and co-encourage each other. My clients will always have a home at BFF, but our world is filled with so many opportunities to challenge, change, and better yourself. Take advantage!
At last night's run, I let myself push my limits and tracked a better average than I have in several months, because the new atmosphere invited it. It felt great! It doesn't mean I'm going to drop my current training or leave my current practices, but it was an awesome and humbling reminder of just how special my body is, and just how many opportunities I have to honor it.
What is something new you've tried, that feels amazing/rewarding/challenging.... Or has even given you a cause to never try it again? (That last one is Zumba for me!!)
If you've spent any amount of time on the interwebs researching diets or nutrition, you've undoubtably heard of the term "clean eating."
Basically, if it doesn't come from the earth or have a mama, chances are the food you're eating isn't "clean."
If it comes in a bag/box/can, has several ingredients that you can't pronounce, comes in a color that has yet to be found in nature, contains dyes, additives, preservatives.... you get the point.... It isn't clean.
And, yeah, I'm all over the clean-eating concept. I think it makes sense. I think it's simple enough to actually follow.
I like the way eating clean makes me feel.
Yes, back to the acknowledging the way things feel.
It's so important. So empowering.
Because, really, even thinking about eating a big ol' bag of Cheetos (delicious, delicious Cheetos) makes me feel, well, bleh.
Thanks to the awareness I personally have of the legitimacy of consuming real, aka "clean," food, I really can't even justify the purchase of Cheetos (or any other bright/crunchy/highly addictive/questionably processed product), simply because ingesting that doesn't make me feel clean.
And let's think about clean.
It goes so much further than eating, so much deeper than sparkling countertops and grime-free fingernails.
Clean is desirable.
Clean is alive.
Clean is freedom.
Let's consider the immense effects of what we put into and onto our bodies, the thoughts we tell ourselves, the way we treat strangers, the dullness of stagnation....
The things we can do to affect the many facets of cleanliness in our lives.
How does it feel to you to be clean?
There seems to be some conflicting opinions about the best way to go about approaching the Thanksgiving dinner table:
1) Calm down, eat it all, don't feel guilty, just enjoy
2) Stay away from the carbs and sugar, don't overdo it, think first, make up for it later
If either of those approaches works for you and will help you to stay on track with your personal philosophies and visions, then go for it. I'm never one to command adherence any one regime.
Because what's become important to me is how I want to feel.
If Aunt Jenny's sweet potato casserole is so damn good that you find yourself drifting to the table for a third helping, simply ask yourself
How am I going to feel after eating it?
If you answer is guilty, gluttonous, or regretful, then by all means -- do one thing first:
Thanksgiving is not ONLY about the food. It's about togetherness. Gratitude. Connection. Reunion. Celebration.
Sit down next to Aunt Sally and ask about her chihuahua. Make yourself a tall spakling water with ice and lemon. Offer to clear some empty plates. Teach your niece how to draw a handprint turkey.
On the other hand, if you can sense that the third helping of sweet potatoes will make you feel nourished, content, energized and relaxed, then by all means -- eat up.
Once you become clear on how you want to feel, and what steps you can take to help you reach what author Danielle LaPorte calls your "core desired feelings," you can more confidently begin to make decisions that will get you there.
My core desired feelings for this holiday are
Rejuvenated. Connected. Spiritually well-fed.
I know I'm going to dig into that cranberry stuffing like it's my job. I recognize that, by the end of the day, I will want to feel the gratitude surging.
May you feel grateful, too.
P.S. For more on Danielle LaPorte's Desire Map book, journal, and other delicious bits of inspiration, click here.
The verdict is in: getting in your workout in the morning is beneficial to your body - and soul! - for several reasons, from improved productivity to better sleep.
But sometimes, hearing your alarm when it's still dark out and your dreams are so delicious is the worst. thing. ever. It's so easy to push snooze, roll over, and snuggle into your pillow for a couple more hours of precious sleep.
Trust me. I know the feeling well.
It wasn't until I had to start waking up early, to teach a morning class, that I started to appreciate the value of the rest of the limitless day ahead of me, once a solid workout was already under my belt before 7:00 a.m.
So, here are my personal suggestions for maintaining a joyful attitude when that alarm goes off.
1. Set the tone.
Basically, change your "uuugghhhh" to "yay!" This one takes practice, but once you master it, your whole experience of rolling (or jumping!) out of bed will be a doable, if not particularly delightful, one. The mind-body connection is a powerful one.
The moment you hear your alarm go off, greet the day with a personal mantra of optimism. Some to try:
- Today is going to be awesome.
- Today is my day!
- I feel alive and I'm ready to make it happen today!
- I am so grateful for this day.
- It's a beautiful morning.
Have your background music ready to go. Make a playlist for your car or iPod with uplifting tunes. Some of my favorite morning melodies are "Up Up and Away" by Kid Cudi and "Best Day of My Life" by American Authors.
Attitude is everything - even when it comes to waking up.
2. Make it easy.
Pre-dawn is not the optimal time to think things through. The night before your workout, set out everything you'll need in the bathroom. That way, after you've used the toilet and brushed your teeth, you can slip on your workout gear, plug in your headphones, lace up your shoes and be on your way. Keep your yoga mat in your car or rolled out in the living room. I know some people who sleep in their running clothes so they can just roll out of bed and hit the road! (If you are going to be out on the road, it's a good idea to have a headlamp and/or lightweight reflective vest as well as reflective clothing.)
3. Find something you love.
Do you HATE running?? By all means, do NOT make this your morning workout of choice. You'll be much less likely to stick with something you simply don't enjoy.
Waking up early can be torturous enough without feeling like you have to go torture yourself once you're up and moving. Find a group class that sounds appealing - look for an early morning water aerobics class or try some warm yoga. Gyms offer everything from cycling to power lifting early in the morning. Find something that speaks to your soul - my favorite is a class that combines a HIIT-format workout with gentle stretching and peaceful meditation - our very own Wide Awake! class.
Don't overthink it; sometimes the most refreshing way to start your day is with a nice, lung-clearing walk around the block.
BONUS: the post-workout glow!
Once you're done with your workout, you've got the rest of the day ahead of you - and chances are, it'll be a great day. A workout has its longterm benefits, to be sure, but the "afterglow" is so worth it, too.
Post-exercise, your body is high on fresh, clean oxygen. Your thoughts are not jumbled or harried. Your mind is crisp and clear. And, as my friend Jill puts it, "You don't even need bronzer! You've got that rejuvenated glow - kind of like the post-sex glow!"
Nothing wrong with that.
What's your favorite way to wake up and move your body? Let us know in comments.
Emily Nielsen, CPT, is the owner of Fit for Motherhood, LLC, mother of 2 little girls, and an optimist by nature.
All posts © Emily Nielsen