The holiday season is upon us and it’s time to create a list of distractions that will allow you to enjoy the festivities while remaining reasonably healthy and fit. Before you read any further, be comforted that this list allows for indulgences but encourages you to maintain an awareness of your ‘tipping point’ so that when you have already had your dessert but another one is offered, or you’ve been watching football all day and need motivation to get off the couch, you will be able to distract yourself from the temptation of overdoing a good thing.
Distraction number 1: Mint Gum
Pop a piece of mint gum and automatically that next bite of mashed potatoes will seem much less appealing. Actually brushing your teeth works too and will burn more calories since you have to get up and walk to the bathroom to do it, but gum is easier and satisfies the need to chew on something.
Distraction number 2: Wake up for the Turkey Trot
Sign up for the ORRC Turkey Trot at the Zoo on Thanksgiving morning and you’ll have a good reason to get off your butt and prepare for your delicious Thanksgiving meal. Waking up for the 8am start time may be rough, but you’ll feel energized throughout your day and may even feel like taking a brisk walk in the evening.
Distraction number 3: Your attractive neighbor/coworker/significant other
Someone has your eye and the holidays are full of opportunities to get a little closer with someone you love (or want to love!) Think of this person and allow the image of him or her to distract you from engaging in behavior that chips away at your self-confidence. If you want to look and feel your best, there’s nothing sexier than someone who knows how to have fun but stops short of unhealthy and unsafe behavior.
Distraction number 4: Invoke a memory of the last time you overindulged/acted like a sloth
Remember that night of tossing and turning in your sweaty, clammy, insulin-crazed state when you ate or drank too much, moved too little and generally felt like a used dishrag? Yeah, that one. Try your best not to do that again, or at least to that extent.
Distraction number 5: Take your resting heart rate
When you’re facing imminent temptation there’s a good chance your heart rate is elevated. Tune into your resting heart rate by sitting quietly and finding your pulse at your wrist or neck with your index and middle finger. Regulate your breathing and focus on bringing down your heart rate until you feel capable of making the kind of decision you can feel proud of.
Distraction number 6: Drink a hot cup of coffee or tea
Fill your need to put something in your mouth with a comforting liquid that has minimal calories. If you need to make it a bit sweet or creamy, go for it, but use common sense and then enjoy your steaming cup of distraction.
Distraction number 7: Sign up for the Jingle Bell Run/Walk
Fundraise to benefit the Arthritis Foundation and run or walk a 5k with team members or on your own. Three miles is not very far, but if you haven’t been active lately or haven’t walked faster than a snail’s pace since you can’t remember when, the Jingle Bell Run/Walk is a good place to jumpstart your spirit of giving to yourself and others.
Distraction number 8: Pack yummy snacks
Keep your insulin levels stable throughout your day and you will feel happy and energized. Start with one day of packing healthy snacks and you’ll notice that moving more and eating less at your main meals is not quite the hardship that it used to be. If you find that you like the feeling of being in harmony with yourself and other human beings, do yourself a favor and keep yummy, healthy snacks accessible every day of the week.
Distraction number 9: Jump on the scale
The scale tells no lies so keep yourself honest by looking at your number. Your weight only tells part of the story and what is more important is a healthy fat to muscle ratio; however, an aversion to the scale is still alive and well in the United States so if even the thought of weighing yourself causes you to lose your appetite, so be it. There is nothing wrong with a little negative reinforcement here and there to prevent unhealthy behavior, so promise yourself that you’ll be good enough to avoid having to face an unpleasant number in the morning.
Distraction number 10: Remind yourself that there is no imminent famine on the horizon
There will be a next meal, and another and another, so there is no need to eat as if it’s your last meal. Take your time and calm the instinct to cram as much food into your mouth as quickly as possible because no one is going to yank your plate away. Too many calories contributes to obesity and poor health, so keep in mind how fortunate you are to have enough to eat without abusing that luxury by overeating.
Distraction number 11: Pray
For those of you who practice a formal religion, praying and the holidays go hand- in- hand. Praying for your ability to give and receive graciously is a practical method of keeping your behavior in check because it takes some of the burden off your shoulders. It can be exhausting, resisting temptation, and sometimes you need to know that someone else is on your team and wants you to succeed. Praying is a powerful tool, but if you have a conflict with the idea of prayer, someone who feels comfortable praying can guide you on how to make it work for you.
Overconsumption is a major component of any celebration, and the holidays bring a tide of temptation during an unrelenting three-month period. During this time you may either look forward to overeating and engaging in sedentary behavior, or get to work right now establishing some distractions so that it is possible to enjoy your festivities without an overwhelming sense of guilt. It is possible to start the New Year with some sense of your dignity intact, so do yourself and your loved ones a favor and prepare yourself with the tools to make good choices as you celebrate the wonders of the season.