It’s official. Halloween is come and gone, and from now until January 1, 2016, it’s a full on landslide of holiday saturation that will test our wills, our waistlines, our patience (hello family!) and our wallets.
Sounds amaaazzing right?!
Well it is amazing, and something to be grateful for, should you be lucky enough to have a full social calendar and a family to celebrate with, and a job supporting you through it all.
But it’s also a time when in today’s hyper-connected, mile-a-minute world, we all tend to fall in line with the social pressures to eat, act, and drink a certain way, and it’s easy to tune out your own needs and desires.
This year, rather than simply caving to the advertising, social callings, and expectations from mothers-in-law nationwide, I say throw the tradition of listening to everyone else’s opinion out the window, and go your own way.
To do that it helps to have a strategy.
I believe in making my health and my body my own ongoing experiment, and these are the five tricks that I have found through extensive trial and error, and a bit of reading on the science, which work exceedingly well to help me last the next two months and arrive at January feeling fresher than the sunniest beach day in August. Truly.
1. Eat Well and Eat a Lot
I don’t even try to hold back this time of year. It’s pointless, unless you want to yo-yo from starvation to binging, which is just terrible for your metabolism and your psyche.
But I deliberately ignore the peer pressure to eat like everybody else, no matter what the cool kids are doing. It doesn’t require will power, it requires enthusiasm for filling my plate with the foods that make feel good instead of ick.
In my case that means refusing the gluten and dairy that give me acne. I can have just as good a time eating all the other stuff – there is plenty of it. I focus on filling up with veggies, and protein, with raw nuts as snacks to curb hunger and insulin spikes.
This is the plant-based paleo way of eating we teach a lot of at Parsley, and the holidays give me an excuse to focus on eating in line with my philosophy, even when it’s challenging.
For detailed strategies on holiday eating, tune in to our December live webinar, which will feature Feed Me Phoebe author Phoebe Lapine, chef and author, who will be sharing her favorite holiday recipes and go to belly-sparing snacks.
2. Follow My 2 + 3 Booze Rule
Booze is everywhere this time of year, and when it becomes a daily ritual it can really burn through your body’s detoxification reserves, leaving you depressed, anxious and bloated.
So have a rule that alcohol can happen, but stick to 2 drinks per day max, and have at least 3 days per week that are alcohol-free, during the season. This will give you time to de-bloat and recover, and still give you the freedom to enjoy the merriment without feeling slogged the next day.
3. Try Intermittent Fasting
What?!! you say? Fast during the holidays? Well, intermittent fasting has fascinating research behind its impact on longevity and metabolism. Especially in a time of year when we’re all prone to overdoing it, giving your digestion a break can be a way of resetting.
There is no one way to do this, but a simple option is to take one day per week where you go at least 16 hours between dinner the night before and your first meal the next day.
When you do start eating again, make the rest of your intake that day focused on greens and protein, such as salads, roasted veggies, free range eggs, and grilled fish or grass-fed meat, making sure to avoid sugar alcohol and refined carbs that spike insulin and lead to weight gain.
4. Get The 2/2/2 Sweat Strategy
Yes the numbers thing is cheesy but as a doctor you come to rely on nemonics for everything so just go with it!
For me 2/2/2 means that each week I make sure to get 2 yoga sessions in, 2 weight sessions in, and 2 cardio sessions in. No. Matter. What.
The specifics are as follows.
Two yoga classes per week gives me an opportunity to stretch, let the tension go, and have time to myself where no phones, screens, parties, or people interrupt my thoughts. This is essential to my sanity, for one, and also gives me a chance to check in with my body and what it needs.
Think of yoga as your time to listen to – instead of talk at – your cells. It will make all of your daily decisions wiser.
Two cardio interval sessions, I like to do 10 to 15 minutes of alternating sprints with slow jogging (2 minutes each) either outside or on the treadmill. This gets my heart racing and my sweat pouring without spending hours at the gym or killing my bad knee.
Two weight lifting sessions, specifically two sets of 40 kettle bell swings, gives me the metabolic boost to churn through the party fare.
5. Wring Out Along The Way
Taking a pause to wring out from the holiday flood along the way is essential to my getting to January feeling ready for the new year, instead of like a sinking ship.
I love our 7-Day Detox program for this because it’s an easy way to completely reset without feeling overwhelmed. I’ll do it right after Halloween, right after Thanksgiving, and early in the new year.
If I follow the program between big events, I don’t feel guilty about splurging, because I am regularly bringing myself back to my desired baseline.
The program is just 7 days free of sugar, processed foods, dairy, gluten and alcohol, anchored by one of our replenishing and detoxifying Rebuild Protein Shakes by Xymogen for breakfast and dinner, and a hearty plant based paleo style lunch in between.
I feel amazing when I finish the week – clearheaded, de-bloated, and fully energized.