Tuesday 10: Tips For A Holly Jolly Christmas

My road to the holidays was paved with good intentions, but I took a detour when I was run over by the flu. I meant to share this list with you on Tuesday, but on Tuesday (and Wednesday and most of Thursday) I was on the couch, under a blanket, with a temperature ranging between 100F and 102F. (I watched the Hell out of some Oddities on Netflix.)

But fear not! My fever is gone, my cough is diminishing, and — bonus! — my voice sounds like Kathleen Turner. The tips below are still a good idea, even if you’re getting them on Sunday instead of Tuesday.

Wishing you a holly jolly!

10 Tips For A Holly Jolly Christmas

1. Move!
On Christmas morning, Dave and I usually roll out of bed, brew a cup of tea, and start ripping into our gifts — still in our pajamas and hair still in its “styled by pillowcase” state. This year, we did a pinky-swear that we would go for a walk before tearing into gifts and breakfast. You can get in your movement any time you like, but I do recommend that you make time for a walk, a 10-minute metcon, or a yoga set sometime during your Christmas celebration. A little time away from the holiday cheer — to breathe deeply and maybe work up a little sweat — will make your return to the festivities all the sweeter.

2. Eat breakfast… and lunch and dinner.
Knowing that a feast is coming sometime during the day — or as penance for eating too many treats — you might be tempted to skip meals to compensate for the calorie-ocalypse. That’s not the greatest idea, really. (Try to) eat a balanced breakfast with solid protein, quality carbs, and some healthy fats so you’re not famished and/or cranky heading into the day — and if Christmas dinner is in the evening, you’ll need a reasonable lunch in there, too. I have to admit, I was tempted to make some kind of Christmas-appropriate, paleo-ized treat for breakfast — ‘CAUSE IT’S A HOLIDAY, AND I GIVE MYSELF PERMISSION TO EAT WHATEVER I WANT — but when we talked about it, we decided to save our treats for our feast and start the day with a “regular breakfast.” (In case you’re curious, we’re having omelets, sweet potato home fries, and pineapple chunks.) You do what you like; I’m just recommending that you don’t pick the week of Christmas to start experimenting with fasting.

3. Drink water.
This probably seems like “no duh,” but it’s worth a reminder. Three things happen on holidays that can cause discomfort and bloating… ew, right?! (1) You might be eating more than usual; (2) you might be eating foods you don’t eat very often; (3) when you do (1) and (2), you’re most likely ingesting more salt than usual, too. You will feel ever-so-much better if you drink plenty of water to help move everything through your system — and if you’re enjoying adult beverages, think about alternating 1 or 2 glasses of water with each cocktail.


4. Breathe deeply.
The holidays can be fun and exciting and and magical and overwhelming and awesome and… whew! Reconnecting with friends and family can be a beautiful thing — and it can also be a stressful thing. Whether you’re having a lovely time, or you feel like you’re about to use the carving knife to stab Aunt Edna, a 3-minute breathing break is a kickass way to re-establish your equilibrium. Just find a place where you can sit quietly and undisturbed for 3 minutes; this may mean hiding in a closet, taking over the bathroom, escaping to the garage, or disappearing to the car in the driveway. Whatever it takes! Then breathe… you can simply do long, slow breaths or try a pattern. My two favorites? Inhale through the nose in 4 short sniffs (sniff – sniff – sniff – sniff) then exhale in a long, slow breath for 4 seconds; repeat. Or do breath of fire with eyes closed; this is a great instructional video. Whichever you choose, just 3 minutes of conscious breathing can reduce your stress and energize you at the same time. And that just might keep you from committing holiday homicide.

5. Savor every bite.
Sticking with your Whole30? Totally going off-road and enjoying your favorite non-paleo treats? Eating mostly paleo but choosing a few special nibbles? Whatever your eating strategy is for Christmas, slow down, savor every bite, and engage all of your senses. The holidays are a reasonable time to enjoy some once-in-a-while indulgences, but it’s damn stupid to ruin the experience by (a) eating crappy food out of habit or (b) following something delicious with a chaser of self-recrimination. Eat only the things you love, eat only the things that taste great to you, and enjoy the aroma and taste of every bite.

6. Take a post-dinner ramble.
Yeah, yeah, I know… you might have already worked out earlier in the day if you took the advice of #1. But I wholeheartedly encourage you to take a short stroll after your dinner. In fact, I think you should enlist the whole family to take a tromp through your neighborhood together. At our house, we always take a meander through the neighborhood between dinner and dessert…. to breathe some fresh air, spend time together in the post-meal glow, enjoy the lights on our neighbors’ houses, and give our bellies a break by moving around.

7. Disconnect a little.
We blogging, Twittering, Facebooking, Instagramming maniacs spend plenty of time online most of the other days of the year. Unless you’re sending a personal message to someone special who’s far away, I challenge you to really disconnect on Christmas. No matter how delicious your food looks, we will all survive without seeing the photo until December 26. I promise! We’ll all be here, ready to interact with you in our digital playground when you get back online; feel free to leave us hanging until then.


8. Call a faraway friend or family member.
If you’re anything like me, you rarely use your phone to actually speak to the people you love — why talk when there’s text?! But there’s something special about hearing the sound of our dear ones’ voices, so why not give your faraway friends or family a ring (or Skype)? Even if it’s just to sing a Christmas carol together for a few minutes.

9. Be present.
Getting together with family and old friends can sometimes bring up past hurts, slights, and arguments. Reminiscing about good times is lovely; dwelling on the past can be very detrimental. Alternately, fretting about the future (an upcoming Whole30, your “punishment” workout at the gym on December 26) or bargaining with yourself about future behavior (“I’ll eat this cookie now, but tomorrow, I’ll eat perfect paleo.”) is a sure way to create stress and ruin your day. So be present. Love your family right now. Savor the food you’re eating right now. Pay attention to the little details that make this moment the only moment. Suddenly, old yucky stuff and future worries disappear… and right now is really great.

10. Hug indiscriminately.
There are about a bajillion details that can go wrong on a holiday (or any day). The roast is still frozen. The dog ate the perfectly paleo chocolate chip cookies. Someone didn’t get the memo about paleo and brought homemade yeast rolls to the potluck. Aunt Ann forgot she shouldn’t seat Uncle Ed and Uncle Bob next to each other. Grandma got drunk. Grandpa won’t get drunk. Whatever. In the midst of the craziness you have two choices: get frustrated/angry or lean into the chaos and hug everyone. Seriously. Someone’s being an ass? Disarm them with a hug. Someone’s being awesome? Reward them with a hug. A big hug smooths over lots of ruffled feathers, and it feels good every time.

Turn it up to 11… Wear something silly.
This is Smudge’s favorite tip.

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

Paleo (Whole30) Gifts From The Kitchen

My favorite part of the holidays is making festive food and joyously eating it with the people I love. And that hasn't changed since I...

Read More
Paleo (AIP-Friendly) Maple Shortbread

And just like that — BAM! — it's the Christmas season. Time to shake off the turkey hangover, put away the pumpkin, and start thinking...

Read More