“You can’t be great if you don’t feel great.  Make exceptional health your #1 priority.” ~ Robin Sharma

As I’m writing this, Halloween is right around the corner and that got me thinking about all the sugar millions of Americans will consume over the next couple of days, not to mention the array of temptations to come during the holiday season.

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I’m a firm believer that healthy eating isn’t complicated.  Eating fresh, unprocessed foods whenever possible, choosing grass-fed and organic meats and dairy, whole grains, filling half our dinner plate with veggies, eating more plant-based foods, avoiding refined sugar, drinking lots of water.  That’s it. Right?

While most of us know what we should eat for a healthy lifestyle, putting that into practice isn’t always quite that easy, and it amps up during the holidays.  In the same way, it’s not necessarily hard to lose weight, begin a running program, get to bed by 10:30, it’s maintaining those behaviors that can be our downfall.  

I’ve put some healthy practices in place over the years that have enabled me to maintain my weight and energy at the same level for 30+ years, except when I was pregnant.That’s why today I want to share some of my own best tips for putting what we know into practice as seamlessly as possible, so that healthy eating, having energy and vitality, and being at our best is who we are on a regular basis, holidays included.
  • Get into the habit of cooking more meals at home, and taking lunches to work more regularly. It’s really not that difficult – it just takes a bit of planning and establishing the habit.  I make my lunch most days and make dinner at home most nights. For me, it’s been key to staying healthy and eating only clean real food.
  • Instead of meeting friends for a meal, I prefer to meet them for coffee or tea, or a walk or hike.  Don’t get me wrong, having a nice lunch out is lovely once in a while, but I’ve learned that getting together doesn’t always have to revolve around food. 
  • Living a “healthy lifestyle” can also mean unplugging my phone for an afternoon or an entire day, taking the time to relax and read a good book, spending time with my fur tribe, or retreating to nature. Clearing my mind and taking care of my spirit are just as essential as to me as are good food and movement.
  • The Recommended Daily Intake of added sugar for men is 37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons. For women, it’s 25 grams or 6 teaspoons.  What are added sugars? Fruit, dairy, and vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, or beets all contain natural sugars, as well as nutritional value.  On the other hand, white table sugar, syrup, honey and molasses are often added to things we eat or drink regularly like waffles, pancakes, hot cereals, coffee or tea.  Read labels, and pay attention to how many grams of added sugar you consume on a daily basis, and begin to reduce your intake. Research shows that excessive sugar intake can lead to lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes, accelerated aging, a weakened immune system, and more.
  • Parties and gatherings are about people, getting together with family and friends. Enjoy holiday dishes in moderation, pay attention to portion sizes, and have a bite or two of whatever looks yummy, but don’t forget the purpose of the gathering – connecting with others.
  • Drinking plenty of water is always a good idea and drinking a glass of water before a meal or event can help you to feel full, thereby reducing the urge to reach for something to eat.
  • Buffet tables filled with delicious dishes can tempt even the most disciplined among us to overdo.  One great way to deal with buffets is to decide to allow yourself to have one plate only of whatever foods you’d like to sample, and that’s it.  No going back for seconds. You won’t feel deprived, and you also won’t be tempted to over-stuff yourself with “just a little more.”
  • Whatever else you do, commit to staying active.  Outdoor activities may be more limited on the coldest days, but don’t use that as an excuse to abandon your workouts.  Long walks in fresh cold air can be invigorating so long as you wear the appropriate clothing, gyms and rec centers offer an abundance of equipment and classes, and exercise DVD’s or online offerings are everywhere.  

Being healthy and fit is a lifestyle, it’s about making the most of yourself and how you live every day of the year.  The most important part of that commitment starts in your mind.  Make the commitment, and go out and seize the day!