Setting realistic pace key to happy holidays, health coach says

January and the New Year are just around the corner. So, too, are resolutions — those vows to drop pounds or adopt a healthier lifestyle.

But Integrated Wellness Coach Althea Raum says the best gift you can give yourself this holiday season is an early start to that effort.

Osoyoos Fitness Coach Althea Raum

Ms. Raum, who helps women and men around the world with her Women Growing Strong and Lean Living programs, suggests a more thoughtful approach to eating, activity and commitment through the holiday season.

“When the holidays happen, pace yourself,” the Osoyoos-based health and fitness coach encourages. “You want to have fun through the holidays. You want to enjoy yourself. But if you don’t look after yourself, the holidays will become a chore.

“Pick and choose and set your boundaries. You don’t have to do everything — you’re allowed to say no.

Instead of the frantic race from event to event, never-ending entertaining and hours spent in the kitchen cooking up treats, Ms. Raum encourages a December built on what she teaches as the four pillars of healthy living: Control, Commit, Prepare and Decide.

Having a happy holiday season starts with decision and commitment, she says. It’s all about deciding you want to have a healthier, more satisfying holiday season and then making the commitment to that desire.

But that commitment has to be realistic. If you love chocolate, for example, there’s no way you can commit to steering clear of your craving through the entire holiday season. Instead, set a more manageable goal.

“Commit to what you can do,” she advises. “Commit to having sweets four days in the first week instead of all seven. The next week commit to three days.

“Always make a commitment you can win at, something that is doable.”

Once you’ve set your holiday “goals,” you can start to prepare for and control your activity. Again, the preparation has to be realistic.

Say, for example, you have a big dinner event on the horizon. The natural inclination would be to make space for the big meal by limiting food intake during the day.

But, that, says Ms. Raum, is courting disaster.

“A lot of people think they should skip meals because they’re going to a big event in the evening. They starve themselves all day; then they get to the event and they just eat everything in sight.

“Now, the body is hanging on to everything that goes in the mouth because it’s been in starvation mode.”

Through the holiday season, she encourages a good breakfast — a protein, a fat and maybe a vegetable or other non-starchy carb — a mid-morning snack of a fat and protein and finally a good lunch.”

She also encourages exercise — and time for yourself.

“You’ll feel better with exercise,” she says. “You’ll sleep better and you’ll have more energy. At this time of year, everybody’s energy wanes because they’re going, going, going.”

She points again to the four pillars.

“If you’re new to exercise, start slow. Go maybe to the gym once or twice a week or do things at home. Just start slow, so that you win.”

A big part of Althea’s commitment to a healthy holiday lifestyle is finding some “me” time.

“Make time with yourself,” she counsels. “Even if it’s just 15 minutes a day. Read a book, maybe go for a walk, close the door and just disconnect.”

The New Year, she says, is all about developing good habits — and maintaining them. Getting a head start on building those habits — picking one a week and building a solid foundation will make keeping those commitments much easier come the New Year.




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