Can you believe it is November??!?!?!?! Soon preparation for the Thanksgiving feast will be in full swing, and then the holiday parties will begin with all of the sweet indulgences that go with them.
Time to throw out that leftover Halloween candy and start planning your STRESS-FREE holidays.
According to research, there is a link between stress and cortisol levels. Researchers say the rise in the stress hormone cortisol can lead to weight gain. When you are stressed your adrenal glands release adrenaline and cortisol. They also release glucose into your bloodstream. This is your body’s way of giving you the energy you need to handle a fight or flight response.
When your adrenaline high wears off, your blood sugar spike drops, and the cortisol kicks in to help to maintain your energy supply. This is when the sugar cravings kick in and we start grabbing for those sweets to reboot us. Sadly, our bodies store this sugar in the form of belly fat. We often repeat this cycle over and over again – thus more weight gain.
If you are in perimenopause and menopause, your metabolism may already be slowing down and causing weight gain, especially in the abdominal area. If you add increased cortisol levels to the equation – you’ve got yourself in a perfect storm!
You can make a few lifestyle changes to calm that storm. Here are four life-saving tips for a Stress-Free Holiday:
Exercise – Keep your stress hormones in check with exercise! With loads of demands on our time, it is easy to skip yoga, bike riding, or walking, and instead grab a piece of cake. The holidays are stressful already. If you are not exercising, your stress hormones could go through the roof! Look at your schedule for the rest of the year. Decide what reasonable amount of exercise is going to be possible when considering everything else you have to do. You may have to shift around a few priorities, set a schedule, and recruit your friends so that you can inspire each other to stick with it! Time flies by when you exercise with someone.
Eating Habits – A study was reported in 2000 by the New England Journal of Medicine on how much weight people tend to gain during the holidays. While they found most people gain only an average of one pound, the important finding was that these people did not lose that pound after the holidays (or even 9 months later). Sound familiar? If a person was already overweight, they were more likely to experience a higher weight gain. If you gain only five extra pounds each year, you may not think that is much. But, over time, let us say 10 years, you will be 50 pounds heavier. Whoa!
Healthy eating habits can be difficult to maintain when you are under stress. We often eat to fill an emotional need. We start grabbing fast food because we have no time to prepare a healthier option. Make sure you have lots of healthy snacks on hand such as cut-up fruits and veggies. I always have a bag of Ezekial Sprouted Wheat tortillas in the frig. They are so yummy! Dip them in hummus or just eat on on the run! I truly believe that after you’ve developed healthy eating habits, you will have more energy and have less trouble fitting into your favorite pants. Once you know what that feels like, those unhealthy options are not nearly as tempting, even during the holidays.
Sleep – Sleep is critical. Try to get plenty of it! Our bodies (and minds) love routine, so try to establish regular sleep and wake times. Stick to specific bedtime rituals that help you to wind down, even on weekends. Maybe experiment with quiet hours, a time where everyone in the household settles down and gets ready to rest. That means powering down all the electronics! Read a little, meditate, take a warm bath, listen to relaxing music, or fix a cup of herbal tea—whatever works for you! Also, remember to keep your bedroom free of distractions! A clean, uncluttered space without noise keeps your resting spot work-free and peaceful.
Pamper yourself! – Most of us wear many hats during the day. We are so busy that we do not realize how close we are to the point of exhaustion and burnout. Especially during the holiday season. A little guiltless, me-time can work wonders to re-boot you. Small things, like a manicure, massage, or bubble bath help us to feel and look great.
Sure, have a peppermint martini at a friend’s holiday gathering. But still, get in an aerobic walk or whatever your exercise of choice is before the party. Go back for seconds of your favorite Thanksgiving dish but return to normal portions the next day when you begin to eat your way through the leftovers. Healthy living is a habit.
Stay on the path of a healthy lifestyle so that you can have a wonderful, stress-free holiday season!
Remember: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN.
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