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5 Ways to Survive & Thrive This Holiday
Ayurvedic expert John Douillard, D.C., Ph.D., author of The 3-Season Diet and Body, Mind, and Sport, shares his top tips for enjoying this holiday season more — and avoiding holiday weight gain in the process.
As the holidays approach, you may already be experiencing a breakdown in your routine. Whether it's the irresistible holiday treats and snack food at the office, or the already-fast pace of life getting even faster, your routine is under attack. "'Tis the season" of snacking — but there are ways to enjoy the holidays while holding on to your routine and your health as well.
1. Be 51 percent good. In The 3-Season Diet I point out that if you stick to a healthier routine 51 percent of the time, it is the majority. This applies to the annual cycle as well. If you stick to the rules 51 percent of the year, you will be fine. So a couple of weeks of chaos during the holidays is really no big deal.
2. Eat dinner early. One of the hallmarks of my weight loss program is eating your last meal of the day by 6 p.m. This will not be possible every day throughout the holiday season — but remember the 51 percent rule, and do the best you can.
3. Make it a meal, not a pit stop. One of my patients reported losing 10 pounds during the month of November. She still had a daily dose of chocolate (her favorite food!) — after her main meal at lunch. She simply tried to enjoy meals rather than snacking, and she was able to eat anything she wanted. That was the key — she began to enjoy eating again. When she was nourished at a meal, she didn't really think about food until the next mealtime.
"Eat, drink and be merry" wasn't meant to be done while driving your car to work or to the mall. Many nutrition plans and experts promote a frequent-small-meals approach, but my training and experience with patients has led me to advise eating three "real" meals a day and avoid snacking in between. Between meals, the body starts burning fat and the blood sugar becomes stable — and it becomes easier and easier to make long trips between meals.
The plan is, you can eat whatever you want — just relax, enjoy it fully, and don't rush.
4. Move for just 15 minutes every day. One of the first things that goes right out the window this time of year is exercise. Many of us think we have to exercise for 30 to 40 to 60 minutes each day or it's not worth doing. This is not true. Ten to 15 minutes of exercise in the morning can save you during this time of year.
Take a quick brisk walk or a slow jog. Get on that exercise bike for 10 minutes. Follow with 5 minutes of stretching. This is a great way to start the day. If you can do more, great — but almost anyone can muster 15 minutes each morning. Consistency is the key.
5. Breathe (through the nose). In my book, Body, Mind and Sport, I recommend nose breathing during exercise. This forces air down into the lower lobes of the lungs making the respiratory system more efficient. It also activates the calming nerve receptors in the lower lobes, training the body to be calm during this morning jaunt.
It's like resetting your body each morning to handle the stress of the day from a neurologically calm place. What's special about this is that the body burns fat when it is calm, and sugar when it is stressed. One way to avoid putting those holiday pounds on is to reset fat metabolism each morning with your 15 minutes of nasal breathing exercise.