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November 18, 2019

Strategies for the holidays

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Thank you!

Hello and thank you for being a part of 40+ Fitness Podcast. I am kind of excited. You know, we're getting into the holiday season and this can be a really good time for us or this can be a really bad time for us depending on how we approach the holidays. So I wanted to do an episode on holiday strategies. It's something that's been top of mind for me because I'm going to be doing quite a bit of traveling.

My wife and I will be coming back to the States and we'll be visiting family. So we're going to be in a few different places and we'll list those off because if you're in any of these places, I'd love to meet up for a coffee, maybe a glass of wine, something like that. So we're looking at:

  • New Orleans,
  • Asheville, North Carolina,
  • Asheboro, North Carolina,
  • Merrillville, Indiana and
  • Pensacola, Florida.

So if you're in any of those areas, hit me with an email, Allan@40plusfitnesspodcast.com. Love to spend just a little bit of time with you, get to know you a little bit better and we can talk shop health and fitness of course, but as we get into the holidays and things are going, typically what happens is our whole schedule kind of gets turned on its ear. Our whole routine, the things that we do on a day-to-day basis become very, very different as we're spending time with family, as we're preparing meals, as we're doing office parties, the whole bit. And so I'm going to go through each of the four kind of pillar areas of fitness and health. That's gonna include food, exercise, or training, sleep and stress because all of these can be adversely affected by the things that are going on during the holidays.

And as I have this conversation, you're going to hear me kind of go back to two basic tenants. The first one is that we need to plan. If you don't plan, you know, the quote, failing to plan is planning to fail. Okay. So we're gonna talk about planning for each of these and then we're also gonna talk about strategizing because your approach to things could be very, very different than my approach to them based on our needs and based on our past. So let's go through each of these and kind of talk about what's going on with each.

Okay, I'm going to start with food cause that seems to be the big one that I think a lot of people struggle with is that, you know, now there's all these kinds of different foods. There's the, the cookies and the pies. And the potlucks and the parties and the, you know, the family get-togethers and all the traditional meal things that we would, we're eating that we wouldn't eat normally. Okay. Plus just the volume, you know, it's very easy to overeat. It seems to be a basic theme that happens every Thanksgiving for most people.

And so as I said with food, you need to have a plan. Okay. And that plan needs to include what you are going to eat and what you're not going to eat. Because to say that you're not going to eat aunt Mabels dessert is probably a falsehood. You are going to eat it, but you need a plan to make sure that you don't overindulge. So how do we do that? Well, that's where we fall back on the strategies. Okay. Now what I know is if I go in to Thanksgiving dinner or a potluck or a party, I have to be very clear about managing my plate.

Okay. And how do I do that? Well, one is I make sure that at least 25% of my plate is a protein source. So I'll look for a Turkey or ham. I'll try to make sure I get something that doesn't have all the glazing and all the other stuff on it. And so it's just basically trying to get a meat. Okay, that's 25% of my plate right there. 50% is going to be vegetables and not vegetables with goops and stuff on them. You know, there are none of these, uh, the onion crumbles and that kind of thing or not mixed up in some kind of a soupy mix. Basically vegetables. And if I can't find the vegetables then that's going to lead me to my next one though we're to talk about. But I'm going to try to fill my plate about half of it with vegetables and that leaves me with about a quarter of my plate where I can kind of sample some of the other things.

So if there's a, you know, a little bit of yam, it's got a little bit of a marshmallow on it. Okay, fine. I'll have a little bit of that. If there's a dessert Aunt Mabel made, I'm going to have a little bit of that. But at this point I'm showing her I don't have much room on my plate. So they're little dab of that. That way people see the you're at least paying attention. You're enjoying yourself and it doesn't look like your not eating or not participating. So manage your plate. I know it's very difficult all that food's in front of you, but if you have this strategy in front of you where you say, okay, this is the lineup for my plate and I'm allowing myself this little quarter to have those little indulgences, that's your detour. That's the detour that you chose to take and it's a much better one.

Now, I talked earlier about what if these foods aren't available? Well, I typically like to either try to host or bring a dish so when I go to my mother's for Thanksgiving, one of the things I'll do is I'll request that I make turkey. Okay. And this way I know how it made the turkey. I know you know that I've made it in, in the way that it's a better quality turkey, typically organic. So I know what I'm getting with the turkey. And then so I'll have the turkey, my mother will also cook a ham, so there'll be ham there and they'll be Turkey. And I typically just stick to the turkey. I will probably have a little bit of that ham, but as I said, that's my quarter where I can kind of go do a little bit of that. And then I will often also bring a vegetable dish.

And so this will be something like where I'll go out and I'll, I'll steam some broccoli and maybe I'll go ahead and make a cheese sauce that they can pour over it if that's how they want to eat it. But I'll do mine without that. Maybe I'll put a Pat of butter on there just to give it a little bit of flavor, sprinkle it with some garlic powder, something like that. So basically at that point I have my vegetable. I also, and I sent this recipe to my mail list and you should have gotten it a couple of days ago. About about two weeks ago was on a cauliflower rice. And so sometimes I'll do things like that, make a cauliflower rice or something like that that'll go with my meal pretty well. And so if I'm doing those things, then that's three quarters of my plate and now I can go around and I can have some of the other things that my family traditionally makes for Thanksgiving and it doesn't look like I'm not participating, I'm there with them and I'm enjoying the meal.

So have a plan, have a strategy, know what's made you fail in the past and try to work things out that are going to help make sure that you're staying on track. We get invited to a lot of things. Just because you get invited to something doesn't mean you absolutely have to go. If you have to show face like Christmas party with the company, you kind of need to be there. Great. But try to manage what you're doing while you're there. Go in with that plan. Go in there with that strategy so you know that the foods that you're eating is not gonna derail you too much. Okay. It's a, it's a departure you've chosen, but don't just go wild.

Then the next thing I wanted to talk about was activity. Obviously if you're traveling out of town or you're off work, you kind of set your routine different, maybe the gym that you work out at as closer to your office and not so close to your home. Maybe the gym's closed certain days that you would normally like to work out. So again, it's the plan and strategize and the planning means I, if I know the gym's closed on a particular day, maybe I need to do a body weight workout. Maybe that's a good day for me to consider doing something cardio or balance or mobility related that I don't do on a regular basis. But that need to do, I know I need to do more. Then I'll do those things. If you're traveling, pack those a resistance bands and plan yourself a resistance band body weight workout in your hotel room before you go over to the family or in your bedroom before you come out and spend time with family. Go on one of the Thanksgiving Turkey trot runs. Uh, that happen almost everywhere. Do some things like that that you wouldn't normally do, but do them with a plan.

And then the strategies would be if there's things that would typically keep you from working out, again, have that accountability, have those strategies, whatever that might look like for you. You know, you might tell a friend, okay, we're having the week off and we're both going in these two directions and we were going to promise each other that we're going to work out three times this week, even though this is a holiday week, we're going to do three workouts, and then you email each other or text each other and say, Hey, did you get your workout in? Yeah, I've got mine. You got yours. Okay, great. I'll call you on Wednesday. Those kinds of things. So you've got an accountability, you've got a strategy that's going to keep you moving forward rather than falling back into that quicksand that the holidays can often become. So just make sure that you have a movement plan as you go into the holidays so that it's not just sitting around and talking to family.

I used to set up a football game with the kids after the meal and sometimes my brothers and sisters would come out and play and that was so much fun. But as the kids have gotten older, as we've gotten older, fewer and fewer people would go out there. And so standing up there by yourself with a football in your hand isn't a whole lot of fun. So I'll probably be going on, probably doing some cardio work and probably do some mobility work during that time, uh, because that, that tradition went away. But have a plan, have a strategy and know what's gonna work for you as you go into the holidays to make sure that you're continuing to move. You need that movement. Okay.

Sleep. Often during the holidays, there's a lot of activities going on, but we have days off and so I'd encourage you to use this as an opportunity to focus on the quality of your sleep. This is a really good time of year to do that. The sun setting, you know, the days are shorter. This is a good time for you to figure out a good time to go to bed, to wake up when you want to wake up. And so I'd encourage you to take advantage of the time off. Don't make it all about chores, all about family going around and doing all this stuff. Try to figure out your sleep. Sleep is highly under utilized as a tool for health. We are mostly sleep deprived. If you're not getting seven to nine hours of good quality sleep each night, you are sleep deprived. Even if you say, I don't need as much. I'm telling you, you probably do, you just don't get as much. You can still function but you're not functioning optimally. So when we start talking about plan and strategy, okay, the planning would be trying to figure out the bedtime.

The plan would be trying to know that you, you want to avoid certain things that are going to disrupt your sleep. Like staying up watching TV too late, having the lights on instead of using more of uh, natural light. And then of course alcohol. If you're having more alcohol during this time of year than you normally would, that's probably adversely affecting your sleep and it's just something to consider. So as you get into the strategies, it's like, okay, how do I not sit down and binge Netflix or the lifetime channel with all of the Christmas movies, which I'm pretty sure my wife's gonna start playing pretty soon here she can find a Netflix series where she can start watching all this Christmas stuff. I'm pretty sure that's what's going to be happening around my house. So let's not binge on the TV and the Netflix.

Let's use this as an opportunity to really get to sleep earlier, get the sleep we need, try to figure out a strategy or an approach that's going to not only work for us during these holidays, but something that we can actually carry forward into the new year and say, okay, when I go to sleep, it's at 8:30 I typically wake up between four and six and I feel great. I get a good night's sleep, I get the good sleep cycles in and I feel really good. So 8:30 is my bedtime. Now, do I always go to bed at 8:30 no. Sometimes things come up. My wife wants to do something. We want to go out and have dinner and dinner kind of stretches a little long. So I don't make my 8:30 all the time, but generally I now have that routine and that's, that's more normal for me than not. And the holidays are really good time for you to try to figure that out. What works best for you?

Okay. The final one is stress and the holidays in and of themselves can be very, very stressful. I for one, can put my hand up and say, yeah, first time I made broccoli or bought broccoli to cook for Thanksgiving dinner. And my mother was a little frustrated with me. She's like, well, we all have all this food now. We're going to have all this wasted food because you're making an extra vegetable. And I was thinking, well, I still want these vegetables. So I did. I cooked the broccoli low, frustrated, but there was a little stress there. And so just recognizing that getting together with people, going to office parties doing this and that is kind of stressful on the body. So take some time. You know, a lot of us do holiday time, we get vacation, we're away from work.

We're away from a lot of the stressors in our lives. But in the background that stress still runs in our head. I know if I'm going to be away from work for two weeks, I'm gonna have to, I'm gonna have to pay the Piper for that one because there's gotta be a lot of work to catch up on when I get back to the office. I was one who liked to work right up to Christmas day and most people had taken those days off that week. I like to work those days because the office was slow. I was able to get in and get a really well organized going into the new year. And that actually allowed me to enjoy my Christmas a lot better. So my plan had always been go ahead and work up to new years, I mean Christmas Eve and do these things that are going to make the next year easier. So that was scheduling, cleaning out my inbox, answering any like lingering little things that I had put off and it was a very, very productive time for me.

So that strategy paid off, you know, go on into the office, work your regular days right up until that point. And then when I took the week off, I felt so much better. Now when it came to family stress, I just had to realize what I can control and what I can't control. And then I also came up, you know, I use this mantra and I've talked about it a few times I'm sure, is if something is not going to be affecting you in five years, then it's not worth worrying about for five minutes. It just isn't. There's nothing that's going on now. If it's not going to be affecting you and your not going to remember it in five years, it's not a big deal. It's a, it's a little deal. And you're making a big deal out of a little deal. So take some time to think through what are the, what are the real things that matter in your life?

That's, that's one of the cool things about the holidays is the time with family and a time or doing these things. It really is a great opportunity for us to get our straight to get ourselves organized, to find ways to maybe have less stress next year. And so if you can do any of those things, then that's a win in your health and fitness. So try to stay in control, try to be relaxed during the holidays, enjoy the holidays, don't let stress rule you. And then when you get to a point where you can get ahead of stress, boom, now you've got something going on. So that's kind of it. You know, as we go into these holidays and I call it the holiday quicksand, you get into there and sink, sink, sink, sink, sink. And unfortunately most of us as we get into the holidays, we're going to gain some weight.

We're not going to move as much because our routines busted. We're not going to sleep as well. We're not gonna, we're gonna be even more stressed because there's still the office stuff and then the work stuff and then there's everything else that we've got to get done and everywhere else we gotta be, you know, you'd think 3000 miles of driving, I'd be all stressed out about it. Not a bit. I'm going to be downloading all kinds of audio books and podcasts and I'm going to enjoy that time. And yeah, that's a lot of time to be sitting in a car. But I'm going to make sure I have movement built around that. I want to make sure that the food that I'm taking in nourishes my body. I'm going to still be getting all the sleep that I would normally be getting the same way I would get it.

You know, just I'll get up early and we'll hit the road. My wife can sleep in the car, I can get the driving done and we can get to our next destination in time for me to get to bed in time. And then the stress again is, you know, just have, I have plans and strategies, things I'll be doing. For me, sometimes driving is actually more meditative, particularly when you're on the interstate and you're just driving down the interstate. It's just for me it's just a good time to get into my head and just relax and think about all the good things that have happened this year. Like you like having you on this podcast. A podcast has grown this year and I'm just really excited about that. We're going to coming up on our four years of of doing this podcast and this is, this is episode I think 408 so pretty excited good things are happening and I want you to have a wonderful holiday season.

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