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Stay active during the holiday season, especially when it comes time to enjoy some large meals and relaxing time with the family.

Boy, do I love the holidays! The opportunity to spend precious time with family and friends, creating memories that last forever. For some it allows time to relax, connect, meditate, read and maybe even get in an early afternoon nap. There is so much to be grateful for.

 This is my favorite time of the year, but as a holistic lifestyle coach and C.H.E.K. practitioner I see a lot of people struggle. Society is conditioned to overindulge during the holidays as the misconception is this brings us feelings of happiness and contentment. Often times, however, we get sicker, gain weight, and become more anxious and depressed. Why do so many people come down with colds and viruses in December, January and February? It is a lack of self-care and our deficiency in respecting the balance of a healthy lifestyle thus allowing our mind, body and immune system to suffer.

I am very aware of all the ways we are stressed and distracted from our normal routines during the holidays. Work parties, family functions, cooking, shopping, etc. can be quite overwhelming. When it comes to getting enough rest, exercise and following a healthy diet we must be mindful. A few healthy habits will keep us from feeling stressed, anxious and depressed. Here are a few ideas to help you maintain that healthy balance between enjoying the festivities, and keeping yourself mentally and physically strong. 

Have a plan and write it down. Post it somewhere you can see it or set a reminder on your phone. With technology today, there are a plethora of health and fitness applications which allows for easy tracking of your diet and exercise habits. Take a little time away from your work, social media, games and other apps and spend that time on you. 

I begin my day with an entry in my journal on gratitude. I write the first six things that come to mind then ponder how grateful I am, and I get happy. This gets my morning routine off to a great start which then carries over into a more content state of mind. 

Achieving this positive mindfulness also improves my rest, digestion, exercise, and mood throughout the day. 

Research shows that the neurons in the brain are reinforced by the messages we relay to ourselves. Gratitude is more than just being positive, there is science behind this technique. 

I always encourage my clients to get their exercise in during the morning hours, as this helps keep their mind and body in balance. Getting exercise behind you also eliminates distractions or excuses. If exercise is unattainable then moving often throughout the day will help. Park further away when you are shopping, take the stairs instead of the elevator, get up from your desk, sofa, or chair every 30 minutes to stretch, squat, and twist. A brisk five-minute walk is enough to rejuvenate yourself if feeling lethargic. Whatever the method, just move! No matter what you do, movement can create a feeling of accomplishment, self-love and respect.

Tracking hydration is also very important. Dark urine, headaches, fatigue, and joint pain are a few indicators of dehydration. Hydrating well through the day can lessen the intensity of hunger which leads to less food consumption during parties, functions, or gatherings. A good rule of thumb is to consume half of your body weight in ounces of good quality water throughout the day. I always have a couple of glasses of water 20 minutes before these types of events as it alleviates my cravings and I feel less hungry or tempted to eat unhealthily. 

Optimal sleep and rest throughout the day are also important. If your schedule permits try to follow the circadian cycle. Going to sleep at 10 p.m. and waking at 6 a.m. This helps keep our repair and growth hormones regulated. Taking a little time in your day to stretch, meditate, read, paint or nap goes a long way. Try to avoid T.V, computers, phones at least one hour before sleep. If this is not possible be sure to wear blue light blocking eyeglasses. They will help reduce your exposure to blue light waves that can keep you awake. Take a hot Epsom salt bath then meditate, read or both.

When it is time for your big holiday meal be sure not to skip meals throughout the day. This will only make you eat more along with making poor choices at the dinner table. Start by having a nice salad first and then a plate of mostly vegetables and less of the potatoes, pasta, rice, bread and dense-rich foods. This will fill you quicker resulting in less calories consumed. Try slowing down, mindfully chewing your food while enjoying what you eat. Studies confirm that chewing your food longer helps with weight loss as it allows your brain more time to receive signals from the stomach that it is full, resulting in decreased food intake.

So please take some time out of your day to LOVE YOURSELF. Remember medications are often just the band aid which treat the symptoms and not the root cause. By taking a more proactive holistic approach we can live a much healthier and happier life. Giving us the ability to keep doing the things we love to do with less pain, and more vigor and passion.

Have a wonderful holiday season.

Julian Turner is a C.H.E.K. Practitioner 2, C.H.E.K. Holistic Lifestyle Coach, C.H.E.K. Tennis Conditioning Specialist and owner of Reach Your Potential. He specializes in corrective exercise, pre and post-rehab, athletic development, sports performance and lifestyle coaching. With over 25 years of experience his integrated approach has helped individuals and athletes improve performance, prevent and recover from injuries and pain.

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