Getting Healthy During the Holiday Season

by Jennifer Iannolo | Print This Page

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This may sound completely counter-intuitive, but after what has been a very long year of health woes, I’m choosing to give myself the holiday gift of health. And that looks like a self-styled “boot camp” to really get my system back on track – during the holiday season. I see it as a 4-part process, each pillar of which is critical to success. Ready?

Sleep. It Matters.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I started taking a thorough inventory of my routine to see where I was most going off track, and the biggest system glitch was in the realm of sleep. I tried employing good sleep hygiene, attempting to go to bed before midnight, not taking my phone to bed, etc., and still the insomnia continued. Finally I took the plunge and spent last week with my brother and his family (the Normal People, and I say that with tongue fully in cheek). They have school-age teens, and everyone is up at the crack of dawn, so by going to bed and waking up at regular hours, I was able to reset my internal clock. That, combined with a sky that grows dark at about 4PM, seems to have shifted my huge stumbling block. Now I’m ready to conk out at midnight instead of 4AM.

Exercise – Why Wait for January?

Now I’m on to the food and exercise piece, which has also been up and down this year because I’ve been too exhausted to care. I have to be careful not to over-exert my adrenal system, so I cannot do my normal re-start of jumping right back in to exercise. I have to go sloooowly, and this is not something I’m known for. I’ve found great relief in Tai Chi-style exercise and Ballet Beautiful, which seem to be working things from the inside (from the bones out).

Also, if you’re waiting for New Year to get started, here’s a tip: You’ll probably add on a few more pounds before that happens, and then you have more work to do come January 1. Why not get into a routine now so it’s already a habit by January 1?

Clean Eating

I’m loathe to use the word diet unless I’m referring to the scientific term for “what I’m eating”. After years of torturing my body and metabolism, I’ll never go “on a diet” again; in fact, I’m quite certain that lifelong dieting has contributed, at least in part, to the present state of things. Therefore, what I’ve implemented instead is a clean-eating reset twice a year to check myself. It’s easy to let things creep back in, especially when one discovers rice-flour gluten-free English muffins. And while it may seem insane to do this for the holidays, it’s really quite perfect, as it will keep indulgence to a minimum and really have me pay attention when I might otherwise give myself permission to go completely off the rails. Then I’d be starting out the new year very, very badly, and angry with myself. No thanks!

In addition to getting rid of inflammatory foods (I do the Paleo Autoimmune version of the Whole30), I’ve prepared for the past few days by weaning myself off coffee, except for an occasional decaf.

And then, I’m happy to say, Santa came a bit early! When I head into my clean eating resets, my go-to beverage is green tea, which is loaded with good stuff. Normally I like to drink it iced, because with radiator heat in this NYC apartment, I need to keep cool as much as possible.

honestteaAs luck would have it, my new friends at Honest Tea reached out and asked me to give their new K-packs a try. I’ve long been a fan of Honest Tea because it’s organic, so I know I’m getting good quality (when your system is as run-down as mine, every bit helps). They also sent me a new Keurig machine and accessories for making my iced tea, and I have to say, I never had plans to make tea this way (my mother is Scottish and we brew tea the old-fashioned way), but this is so much easier, particularly because you can cold-brew right from the Keurig; simply brew into a cup of ice and you have instant (but not) iced tea. This is my favorite time-saver, because as an iced-tea hound I’m constantly making ice for the big jugs of tea I brew, and it takes forever to cool them down. In this case, I have iced tea in about 60 seconds. This is going to make my cleansing time much easier!

If you have a Keurig and the Honest Tea Just Green Tea K-packs (they also have Just Black Tea), brewing is this simple:

  • Fill a tumbler with 6-8 ice cubes
  • Insert the K-pack into the machine and let it brew over the ice
  • Stir and drink

Yep, that’s it. You can get the packs on the website.

Mindfulness & Support

Lastly, and I’ve said this numerous times before, the most important part of maintaining my health always involves keeping my head in the right place. If for one moment I get angry about the state of my body, or resentful, I’ve taken myself out of life for a day, and that just doesn’t fit with my life plan and who I am. Typically in those moments I’ll get on the phone with someone from my incredible support system, and they will remind me who I am and why I’m here. Those dark days can be oh so dark, but with a little support and a lot of love, we can bounce back.

You can do this, too. We have an arsenal of holiday tips, so we’ll continue to share those through the end of the year. Let’s make this a great ending in preparation for an awesome beginning to 2015!

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