Whole for the Holidays

Well… we got through Halloween. The bucket of candy by the door or the wrappers you find between the seats in your car may be a reminder of the sugar binge you went through, but don’t beat yourself up about it.

According to the New York Times, the average weight gain during the holiday season is actually closer to one pound than the 7 to 10 pounds that many people believe it is. You’re not headed down a road of calorie collisions that leaves you at the bottom of a rocky road container. Breathe…

So I can eat whatever then, right? Not quite.

The problem is that people don’t usually lose that one pound once they’ve gained it. On top of that, the average weight gain per year is two pounds which breaks down to approximately 20 pounds in a decade!

Let’s do the math.

Twenty pounds in your 30s, 20 pounds in your 40s, another 20 pounds in your 50s and all of sudden you have a big increased risk for heart disease, cancer and diabetes. That’s when holiday weight gain becomes a different monster.

This is the time to indulge in all the delectable treats and feasts! The champagne, pies, ham sandwiches and that extra side of mac and cheese are nothing to be ashamed of. There’s a yin to every yang though.  To stay balanced, don’t let working out or staying active get put on the back burner.

There are proven physical health benefits from dance but continuing to be mindful in other areas will improve our overall well being. During this time of family and reflection, I wanted to take a look at how we can balance those 5-6-7-8s along with daily habits that will help keep our mind and body ready for 2019 and beyond.

Stay Sharp

Sometimes when I get to the choreography section of my class, people will take a deep breath or sigh. They look up at the mental and physical hill they’re about to climb knowing it takes more than just physical ability. Interpreting which arm, which leg, which direction even, can lead to legs and arms everywhere except for the position they should be in. This can be frustrating, for recreational dancers who genuinely want to enjoy dance without any added pressure.

Every now and then, don’t be afraid to stretch your arms a little and experience a more challenging class.

I’ve been able to see the effects of Dementia and Alzheimer’s through family members of mine battling either disease. Watching a person lose all sense of self is heartbreaking. But as our bodies grow older, it’s inevitable that we experience an increased possibility of diminished brain capacity that’s directly connected to aging. To know that dance can help postpone or prevent those symptoms inspires me to joggle a few brains with the combo in class and challenge them to move outside of their comfort zone.

“The complex mental coordination that dance requires activates several brain regions: the cerebellum, the somatosensory cortex and the basal ganglia, triggering kinaesthetic, rational, musical, and emotional responses.” (World Health Organization)

Get a Massager

It would be easy to run into to Brookstone and pick up a high powered rechargeable massager but I challenge you to try something different. No batteries, just manpower. These handheld massagers are able to target key problem areas and smooth the pain away. They’re a lot cheaper and travel-friendly. Taking the time to stretch and massage your body is a sort of meditation in itself.

The right headspace

During the holidays, there’s a bit more time to take a breather and just think. Whenever you find a moment, take it. In the morning, try not to look at your phone or rush to turn music on. Be present in that space of you and your thoughts before committing your time and attention to anything else. Think about your intentions for the day to allow positive people and vibrations into your orbit.

Depending on where you live, quiet meditation may be difficult. If you have to hop in the shower with the water on “ooooh hot hot hot” then let that be your serene sauna of reflection.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people worldwide are affected by depression. With antidepressant medication use up by more than 400% in the United States, now more than ever, we need natural ways of stimulating “feel-good” hormones in the brain. Perhaps nothing can make a deeper impact on feelings of well-being and contentment than genuinely connecting with other human beings. Coming together through song and dance is one of our oldest human traditions.

So if you are bored with your regular fitness routine, dealing with circumstances that have you feeling down, or you just want to amp-up the joy in your life, dancing is an amazing activity, replete with benefits for mind, body, and soul. It’s something you can do with a partner, in a class led by a qualified instructor, or alone in your room with the radio turned up. Whether you’re dancing fast or slow, alone or with someone, the therapeutic benefits of music, movement, and connection, are free and available to everyone. So turn up the music, and dance your way to a long, healthy, and happy life!

Make your Resolutions known

Tell everyone what you’re doing, and you’ll be less likely to slip up. Your pride will get the better of you and you’ll be encouraged to keep pursuing your goal. It always helps to have a workout or study buddy, but imagine if all your Instagram followers went on this journey with you.  Connect with your Facebook friends and followers by committing to weekly online workouts, book reviews, or dance videos. Whatever suits your fancy.

To experience the benefits of anything, you have to get up, and get down!

While dancing requires a certain level of fitness and athleticism, there are no barriers to entry if you want to explore dance movement as a way to improve general health and coordination. As with all exercise programs or any life objective you may have, the key to obtaining optimal results is CONSISTENCY. Pursuing goals close to your heart is the best way to ensure that you stick with it! So if you can’t seem to commit to your resolution, knowing you have a whole army of people holding you accountable can be just the ticket to reinvigorating your commitment. You’ll start to see that same dedication and passion put into other areas of your life.

Let it GO!!

During Kym Douglas’ interview on Ellen, she talked about a 1.5 centimeter stage 3 tumor that was hidden under her breast tissue, close to her heart. She concluded the interview by saying,” … in life we can hold bitterness or hold resentment or anger towards people and sometimes that can manifest in your body so my message right now is LET IT GO. Whatever you may be holding on to, let it go”

The words sound so simple but in reality, there are things we constantly struggle with that take power over our time and thoughts. Life comes with a barrage of challenges and sharp turns. Some things last a day, others a lifetime, but there’s so much power in LETTING GO.

This year for me was all about mental and spiritual inventory and in that 4 major to dos came up.

  1. Get rid of thoughts, ideas or suggestions that don’t progress me.
  2. Put relationships that are breaking at the seams in the Goodwill bag next to the door. Focus on the people and relationships that inspire and elevate me spiritually.
  3. Let mistakes and regrets live in the past then embrace the lessons that were learned from what I’ve been through.
  4. Every day is a new opportunity to live your best life so allowing peace of mind to be your coffee in the morning will make a complete difference in how you operate.

Disclaimer: You’re not the only one. It’s all a daily process for a lot of people; a process that takes time and some uncomfortable self-reflection to come out the other side stronger.

Avoid Multitasking During Meals

I’ve noticed that I do this A LOT!! I’m rushing through my food on the phone, returning an email, or checking what the world is talking about on social media. I read a book called Peace with Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh.  In it, he talked about how to stay mindful of every bite and sip and cognizant of your level of fullness and satisfaction. If you’re eating with someone, discuss the food or the restaurant decor. It allows you to savor the overall experience.  

Spend time with loved ones

I don’t think I really need to encourage you to spend more time with friends and family but rather remind you of how important it is. Hanging out with friends keeps you calm, increases your sense of belonging, improves your mood, and even helps you live longer. Make it a point to have lunch with your BFF or plan a taco night every Tuesday.

It’s also important to identify those people in your life who are toxic and draining. Let go of those who are not beneficial; friendship is a two-way street. It’s just as important for you to feel loved as it is for you to make someone else feel the same way.  

The beginning of the year is always filled with high hopes and big ambitions. Once the winter vacation is over, those same empowering feelings tend to fade. Let’s get in the habit of a personal pat on the pack or I GOT THIS every single day. Remember to take time for yourself, make mistakes, learn the lessons and move to bigger things.

Being whole doesn’t mean being perfect. Take it one day at a time.