In New York it feels like you can never be too rich or too thin. That’s probably because, well, you can’t.
Confused? Did you end up in a Sex and The City recap blog? Where’s Parsley?
Nope. You’re in the right place. Stay with me. It gets better.
The truth is that it seems like no matter where you live, the message that we should prize big bank accounts and small waistlines above all else is burned into our brains. And probably more than any time of year, during holiday season we all feel the pressure to double down on that same bet.
And yet, the irony of this time of year is that every aspect of holiday season expands our waistlines and depletes our wallets, leaving us feeling physically larger and emotionally smaller than we started. Wait, what?
Well, think about it. How many people do you know who spend December over eating, binge drinking and competitive gift-giving? (Definitely not you, but those other people…)
So this holiday season I am focused NOT on how skinny I can be, or how much money I can spend on myself or other people. But on maximizing how energized, focused, and alive I can feel.
To do this successfully does not mean hiding from party invites or being a scrooge. I have a lot of holiday mischief I have no plans to miss out on.
But it does mean calling out your priorities for how you want to feel every day. If you want to feel energized, focused and fully alive, try this.
The Un-Detox: My Essential Plan For A Fully Alive Holiday Season
Day 1: Give Yourself The Gift Of Health.
Every day of this week our team is loosely following our 7 day detox program, which just means we are having our Rebuild shake for breakfast, taking our heavy holiday food busting Absorb digestive enzymes with meals, taking our Defend probiotic to keep the digestion moving, and avoiding alcohol 2 days for every one we indulge.
This does not mean we are A. starving ourselves. B. being perfect. or C. writhing in guilt because we ate too much at Thanksgiving. All of that stuff is silly.
You can prioritize feeling clear-headed and energized because you want to have a productive week and have good communications with your colleagues or your partner, because that is how you want to live your life, not because you feel ashamed.
If this is a hard thing to give yourself, ask yourself why it’s so radical? If you could buy a healthy body for life, is there anything else you’d rather have?
Or don’t. But ask yourself if how you treated your body last week made you feel more energized and focused and alive. If the answer is no, ask yourself what can you do this week to get there.
Day 2. Shop for Experience.
It’s way more fun to make up experiences than to wade through the thicket of a mall on the hunt for stuff.
This year I’m choosing a sensory experience to give each person on my list. For my husband it’s sound, so it will be concert tickets and new records.
For friends, it’s the imagination, so I’m giving the top 3 life changing books on my reading list, edited by my 34 years of experience so far. My friend’s novel Beasts Of No Nation, also a hit film this fall, is #1.
Experience is energy and energy makes us feel alive. What can you give someone you love that will make them feel more alive?
Day 3. Trade Gifts for Time.
We all have those people we buy something for, instead of spending time with them. I’m tempted to get my 95 year old grandmother something she has no need for because it makes me feel better about living so far away from her.
Instead, I will go home to Baltimore and spend time with her for Christmas, and call her every week until then even though my schedule is hectic, because she needs my time more than any sweater, and I get way more energy from her presence in my life than I would from anything she could buy for me.
Day 4. Stop Waiting for Permission.
I find a lot of people are waiting for permission to live their lives, fall in love, get healthy or to do whatever it is they want to do.
I have one friend who is hoping a guy she likes will wake up one day, call her and ask her to quit her job and move anywhere in the world with him. Effectively, she is waiting for him to give her permission to move and find the life she wants instead of the life she is living.
Whose permission are you waiting on? For what? What if you gave it to yourself?
This holiday I give myself permission not to feel guilty for not doing things other people want me to do, but instead to channel that energy into being more honest about what I can do for others and less afraid of saying no.
Not because I have no conscience, but because Guilt is a worthless energy suck.
So what is one thing you can give yourself permission to do today? And how will that make you more alive and energized tomorrow?
Day 5. Be Totally Self-Absorbed for 24 Hours.
How often do you actually take time out for yourself?
Time out out doesn’t mean trolling Facebook, or working from home. It means getting a massage, going to yoga or the gym, taking a long walk alone, cooking every meal – or ordering in if that makes you happy – reading a book, watching old movies. And most importantly, talking to no one.
You probably can’t remember right?
If all of your energy is always going out to people, things or work, you are always going to feel depleted. It’s counter-intuitive to our extroverted Snapchat happy culture to turn inward but it’s the one thing that will give you the chance to feel clear on what you need and to restore your energy in this hectic time of year.
Day 6: Eat Everything
Pick one day per week during the season where you literally eat and drink anything you want, with the exception of anything you know you’re actually allergic to, like in my case, dairy.
Free yourself from the headspace of restraint, and see how you feel.
For a lot of people the space to totally let go of guilt and fear around food is freeing and the thing that keeps them on track the rest of the time.
Day 7. Eat Nothing.
Intermittent fasting is a fascinating practice. The science show it turns on genes involved with cellular repair, and boosts your metabolism – specifically fat burning – and may even slow aging.
There is no set way to do this – we are still learning what best practices are, and like anything, what works for one person isn’t ever going to be what works for every person.
But the most simple ways that have been studied in small groups is either to fast for 24 hours one day per week (water, coffee and tea are ok); or, to fast for 16 hours 2 days per week, meaning if you have dinner at 6pm you don’t eat before 10am the next day.
Fasting is not for people with insulin-dependent diabetes or a history of an eating disorder, FYI.
But I like the concept of intermittent fasting during holiday season and throughout the year, as a counter-balance to the prevailing idea that we should be constantly eating 3 to 4 meals a day, a concept that just doesn’t jive with either human evolution, where food was at times inevitably scarce, or today’s sedentary lifestyles, in which we intake far more energy than we expend.
7 days feel like a lot?
Try just one thing on this list. Get our detox kit. Take a day for yourself. Try a 16-hour fast.
No test can tell you what your own experiment can about what you need and how you feel.