Take a Deep Breath

There are just 11 more sleeps until the fat man in the snappy red suit sashays into the house with well-deserved treats. Despite the fact that I’ve been eating mostly clean, I’ve been on a roller coaster of holiday mania and exhaustion. Too much socializing, not enough truly restful down time. I can feel myself getting slightly raggedy around the edges.

This is, as they say, “not good.”

So myself and I had a very serious discussion in the shower this morning and came up with a short list of ideas to get back on the happy train to Tinseltown. Here’s my advice to survive thrive throughout the remainder of the season and start the new year feeling energized.

1. Put down the cookie…
…unless it’s a made from a family recipe that includes only the finest ingredients lovingly baked into a Russian Teacake of perfection, served by candlelight on Christmas Eve. Then by all means, let it linger on your tongue, roll your eyes back in your head, and savor every luscious bite. But if it’s 3:00 p.m. on Thursday and you’re pondering a cookie of questionable origin, potentially made by a co-worker with suspect hygiene and an overly-slobbery dog, brought to work on a paper plate that lost its Saran Wrap covering three times between the parking lot and the elevator, and has been languishing under the fluorescent lights and been touched by countless Google-dirty fingers in search of their own afternoon treat, drop it immediately.

2. Drink your water.
Thirst is nasty business and can trick you into thinking you’re hungry, tired, depressed, and aging faster than you should. Holiday foods are salty foods, which means water retention and dehydration – and that goes double for fancy cocktails and knock-it-back booze. Carry a water bottle with you at all times and guzzle it like a glutton.

3. Hit your workouts hard.
It’s easy to let training fall down the priority list when there are late-night parties to attend, gifts to wrap, and cookin’ to be done. But admit it: the box or the trail is where you find your sanity. And yourself. And your strength. And your light. The movement and oxygen, the pain and euphoria, the doubt of the barbell and the wonder of landing a box jump… they all ensure that you remain YOU, no matter the season.

4. Hit the pillow harder.
The partner to the hard work in the gym? Solid sleep. Don’t accept seven hours. Or six. Or five. You need eight or nine to be your best. There’s no better time to be well-rested than when you’re decking the halls and bringing goodwill to all (wo)men. For real. Sleep can be too easy to skimp on – and it’s the one thing that will dump you on your ass faster and harder than Santa crashing into a fireplace grate. (Need reminders about why? Read the Sleep of the Righteous Part 1 and Part 2.)

5. Take a moment.
In the frenzy of hosting a shindig or worrying if you have the right little black dress for your company party or standing in the interminable line at the post office, stop a moment. Take a deep breath. Maybe even grab a seat if you can. And think… about the friends and family that make the celebration a celebration… about the love that went into the homemade cookie… about that cozy feeling you get when your nose is chilly but your heart is warm. That’s what it’s about. A hug. A kiss. Your people. And the true belief that magic does happen.


And now for something completely different: If you need a little tough love for this holiday season, check out what CrossFit Lisbeth had to say. (Hint: Don’t be stupid.)

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  • Food Renegade says:

    I always feel my best after 10 hours of sleep. I've always envied people who can sleep less and still feel human. I can manage on 9 hours. But I imagine that 8 for me feels like 5 for others. I don't know how 8 became the "magic number" that people expect. Perhaps it's really just an average. Perhaps the amount we sleep should vary with the season (longer days, shorter nights). I wish I knew more about sleep, other than that I clearly need a LOT. (And yes, my sleep is good quality. No tossing and turning. Easy time going to sleep and waking. Not too interrupted by my kids.)

  • BarbeyGirl says:

    AMEN. Sleep, sleep, sleep. Eat real food. Let the co-workers you don't like consume the poison in the breakroom.

    Mentally, for me, the workouts matter most of all. I'm currently spending a back-off week exploring fun stuff I've been wanting to try, but that doesn't fit into my usual program. It's a nice way to stay motivated and engaged despite dozens of deleterious distractions. 🙂

  • ben says:

    good to see more promotion of good quality and good quantity of sleep. This is one of those things where we definitely need both. I would up it to a full 10 hours of sleep nightly if possible. I know life happens so it might not always be doable but i gotta say after reading Lights Out by Wiley, and seeing the results in my own life with a linear strength progression training (Starting Strength by Rippitoe) where i am getting between 9.5 hours and ten hours a night, im totally convinced that right after good food, good sleep should be our priority.

  • Joshkie says:

    Well said all.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Food Renegade –> You are a wonder. An award-winning blog, motherhood, smart thinking, AND 10 hours of sleep a night. Rock on, sister.

    BarberyGirl –> I love your idea of playing in the gym. Awesome! I've been practicing handstands every day, and I love it.

    Ben –> I agree. Good fuel + quality sleep = happy life. My next purchase is going to be blackout curtains because even with my eye mask, I have trouble sleeping more than 8 hours.I'm hoping blackout curtains will help me stretch that to 9.

    Joshkie –> Thanks for stopping by!

  • thegetinshapegirl says:

    Step 1: Put down the cookie – I'm going to the kitchen to throw out the m & m's.. and by that i mean, open the bag up & dump them into the trash so they cannot be found.. CHECK!

    STEP 2: Drinking water as I type.

    Step 3: Hitting my workouts HARD.. as usual (i'm like you and i LOVE them!)

    Step 4: Hit the pillow.. it's getting there… a work in progress

    Step 5: I look forward to walking through downtown Boston tomorrow while doing my Christmas shopping. Hopefully then I'll realize it's ALMOST CHRISTMAS!

    Thanks for the reminders 🙂

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    GooooOOO, GetInShapeGirl! Have a totally kickass holiday!