Some of my favorite things about getting together over the holidays with my family and friends are the laughter we share, watching my loved ones open their gifts, and, of course, taking in that unbelievable aroma coming from the kitchen!
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, many people are having to remain separated from their loved ones this year. But, don’t give up on this season of glad tidings just yet! There are multiple ways to stay connected by combining a little technology and a super easy and fun approach. You CAN still enjoy all that the holidays have to offer, even while celebrating apart! Read on to learn more about how to turn your holiday separation into a positive experience to cherish.
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Overcoming Holiday Separation
There is nothing like being around all your favorite people over the holidays! The sights, smells, laughter, exchange of gifts, and memorable moments in between make this season one of my favorite times of the year. For some, this year may look a little different in an effort to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. If this is you or you have loved ones who are making the decision to stay home, have no fear. With this list of virtual ways to stay connected, you may find you have such a great time you can’t wait a whole year before you get to do again!
Don’t Wait to Send Gifts, But DO Wait to Open Them!
One thing many of us put off until the last minute is shopping for presents. While your schedule is packed full with work tasks, being a parent, managing your home life, volunteering, or other daily activities, feeling connected to your family and friends starts by planning ahead with gifts. Handmade, store-bought and wrapped, or ordered online, be sure your presents have all arrived at their intended destinations in advance of the gift exchange so you won’t have to miss out on all the expressions of joy and following conversations.
Invite ALL or Some of Your Loved Ones Into Your Home Virtually!
How do you see the gifts being opened from hundreds of miles away? There are a number of popular platforms such as Zoom and FaceTime that allow you to practically feel like you are in the room! The key to success with a virtual gift exchange or holiday greeting is to contact your crew before the designated meeting time and remind them to download and sign in to any related apps, charge their devices, and adorn their holiday attire. Best of all, everyone can be invited! You no longer have to limit your event to loved ones living nearby or only one celebration with one side of the family per day. With the help of such platforms, you can spend quality time with everyone on your Christmas card list in the same day!
Make a Family Recipe With Mom, Sis, and Grammy Too!
Speaking of interacting with the family, no virtual holiday should be without those amazing bonding moments with your loved ones in the kitchen as you follow handed-down recipes. Even if you don’t cook often, this is one tasty event you won’t want to skip! The ingredients for this activity are a designated cooking time, a clean kitchen, shared family recipes, and a charged laptop with a video conferencing app already downloaded and ready-to-go. What I love most about the idea of cooking together virtually is the mistakes and cameras pointed in the wrong direction that make it hilarious and memorable! Plus, you have the freedom to make some healthy alterations and, since you are cooking with family, you may get them to try the changes too!
Create a Family Tik Tok Dance
After all the gifts and food, it’s time to get moving! Start by playing a catchy song from your parents’ generation and record your groovy moves as you play the song in the background. You can add the music to your video or leave it in the background. Then, share your video by text, email, or DropBox to your loved ones and ask them to do the same. You can also upload it to TikTok, Facebook, or other social media app and tell everyone to check it out!
The above are just a few ways to turn this period of isolation into a magical journey filled with everything you have looked forward to doing all year long! Still unable to get excited about the holidays? We’ve got you covered. Sign up for our FREE webinar taking place on December 15th that is designed to address the challenges you have been facing throughout 2020 called “Accelerate Your Success in 2021“. If you want to achieve more in life, you have obstacles in your path you need to overcome, or you simply feel stuck in the same place, this webinar is for you and it’s free with no strings attached! So, what are you waiting for? Visit here to sign up TODAY!
Article of the Month
Who couldn’t use a little inspiration this holiday season? Dust-collecting trinkets are enjoyed for a few moments only to sit on a shelf afterward, or worse, in a storage closet! Instead, try this exciting present that will add value to your loved one’s life year-after-year!
It’s The Perfect Gift
When you think about the perfect gift, what images come to mind? Is it something you can purchase that will bring a smile to your loved one? Maybe it’s a handmade gift that is specially crafted just for the gift recipient or a unique find for that person who has everything.
by Katie Wells on Wellness Mama
I remember how easy it was to “work out” in college. For one thing, I was walking miles each week just to get to class, and whenever I got stressed and needed a mental break from homework, I could just go to the gym on campus (for free) and get a workout in. I didn’t really understand people who “didn’t have time to work out.”
And then… I became a mom… and I understood perfectly how difficult it is to find time to workout when most days, you are doing good if you can find time to go to the bathroom without your kids following you.
The Importance of Family Exercise
Unfortunately, while it gets tougher when we become parents, exercise remains just as important. In fact, with little ones watching us as an example, exercise becomes even more important! If we as adults wish to create a future of happy, healthy, disease-free adults with our kids, it’s time we start practicing what we preach.
Our kids model our behavior. Their attitudes and actions toward everything from nutrition to exercise to politics are shaped by our own actions and behaviors. If we want our kids to eat well, we need to eat well. If we want them to exercise, we need to exercise.
The above modeling creates a culture of wellness in the home. In this environment, children learn that healthy habits are a positive way of life.
And it’s good for Mom and Dad too!
8 (Sneaky) Ways to Get Active as a Family
Exercising as a family is not only a fun way to improve fitness, it’s a way to cultivate the culture of wellness and develop positive exercise habits at a young age.
Below are some fun exercise-based family activities guaranteed to create smiles and sweat!
1. Nerf Fight!
This is one of our family’s favorite exercises disguised as a game. We each have one of these Nerf guns and a bunch of extra Nerf darts. One family member will declare a Nerf Fight and we’ll decide on the rules and boundaries for the game. We often pick teams (guys against girls is always fun) and a home fort. Sometimes, this can be played like a mixture of Combat Archery, Dodgeball, and Capture the Flag and indoors or outdoors. Each team has a base to defend that has a paper cup perched in the middle. The rules are as follows:
If you get hit with an arrow you are out. If you catch an arrow, the person who shot it is out. The objective is to shoot the paper cup off of the other team’s base before your team’s shot. Once a person is out, they have to do jumping jacks and pushups until the next round.
2. Family Boot Camp
Each family member writes down 5 of his or her favorite bodyweight or weighted level-appropriate exercises for a total of at least 20 seconds each. Exercises can be dance moves, calisthenics, martial arts, anything physical that the entire family can do.
The family then goes for a walk, jog, or run and every 60 seconds, they do one of the exercises for 30 seconds. By the end of all of the exercises, it’s been a 20-minute workout! Feel free to go into overtime!
3. Hide and Sweat!
The adults in the family write down 20 physical activities on separate small pieces of paper. These are then put in plastic Easter eggs and hid around the house. Kids are then tasked to find the eggs. When they find them they open them and the entire family performs the activity for the reps or amount of time given.
Putting a time limit on finding all of the eggs and doing all of the exercises makes it more interesting!
4. Family Walks
Sometimes the simplest solution is the best. Walking is a favorite childhood family activity of mine that I now do with my own kids. There are so many benefits to walking (and to being outside), and the whole family can participate (even the baby in her stroller). We are fortunate to live near several greenways and beautiful parks and family walks (with the dogs) are a great way to exercise together.
5. Dance Party
Some afternoons when we are done with school and it is too rainy to go outside, we declare a dance party! Usually, this involves putting on some oldies music and dancing all over the house. It doesn’t take long to work up a sweat!
6. Jump Rope
A kid-friendly exercise that is great for the whole family. In fact, kids usually dominate at this exercise once they get the hang of it thanks to their lower center of gravity. Just ten minutes of jump rope is enough to get the blood flowing and with more than one person, it is fun to learn all kinds of fun jumps.
7. Structured Exercise
There are many other types of more structured exercises that can be done as a family. Our family likes to take jujutsu together in the evenings at a local Dojo. We also all have roller blades, and sometimes drive to a nearby parking lot and skate for a while. We also intentionally created a backyard full of activities that invite climbing, jumping, and play.
8. Just Hang Out!
Part of the solution can also be creating a home environment that promotes movement. While this isn’t something one would normally think of as exercise, we have a vestibular system that requires a certain amount of movement and stimulation to function. It’s especially important for kids to have this kind of input as they grow and develop. This is one reason we have swings, aerial silks, and hammocks in our kids’ bedrooms. These all allow subtle movement that kids find soothing and invite being more active even indoors.
9. Give Kids Freedom
Most kids are naturally inclined to be active… to the point that they exhaust us! As electronics use grows in our society, it’s important to give kids other options for adventure and entertainment. And this might involve letting them take some risks!
Note: This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Robert Galamaga, whois a board-certified internal medicine physician. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor or work with a doctor at SteadyMD.
Hint: If you are not able to be with family this holiday season, try hosting virtual events like those above with your friends and family.
by Andrew Olsen on One Ingredient Chef
How do you stay healthy during the holidays??
Over the last week, I have gotten this question from numerous readers who have been struggling with maintaining a healthy diet during the holidays. There’s so much tempting junk food, so many family gatherings, and plenty of free time to just keep snacking.
The good news is, there are a few simple things we can do to survive the onslaught of unhealthy food this time of year. So while the season is already in full swing, I wanted to squeeze in this quick article to share eight of my best hacks to eat healthy during the holidays…
1. Narrow Your Eating Window
You may have heard of the 16-8 fast where you cram all your calories into an 8-hour window and fast the other 16 hours. This is actually really good for your metabolism. Especially during the holidays when there is a tendency to overeat, giving yourself a larger break between meals has two main benefits:
- Recovery. If you eat too much unhealthy food, it can be helpful to give your body a break from eating so that it can begin processing all this food. Your liver and digestive system need a good 12+ hours without food to detoxify and reset before taking in more food.
- You’ll eat less. Even if you really overeat during the 8-10 hour window, it still won’t be as many calories as slowly snacking for 16 hours straight.
If you’re worried about overeating, this would be my #1 tip. No matter what you do eat, commit to a 12-16 hour fast. Stop eating at 7:00 at night to 9:00 in the morning, for example, and you’re already a step ahead.
The best way to survive the holidays is to drink. Drink early and drink often… Water, I mean! Preloading with water before a meal can make it less likely that you’ll overeat at meals. It’s easy to forget this, or to drink other beverages that will add even more calories, but the more water you have before and during meals, the better (and more full!) you’ll feel.
Hydration Extra Credit: apple cider vinegar. If you really want to supercharge your hydration, add 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water before each meal and magic will happen. It reduces blood sugar spikes, helps prevent overeating, and more. Dr. Greger has a great video on this subject.
3. BYOB (Bring Your Own Broccoli)
Personally, I make a lot of my own food during the holidays. Very little of my family’s holiday meals are plant-based, so I just bring my own healthier food for myself, and to share with anyone who wants it. If you have healthier alternatives to cookies, pies, candy, meat, etc. then you’re much more likely to eat them. This is critical, because if you don’t have any healthy food to eat, what are you going to do? Bring a fruit tray, bring some whole sweet potatoes, bring a fresh salad, bring a lentil loaf, or just bring hummus.
The holidays are a perfect storm for stress eating. Between traffic and late flights and distant relatives and “why don’t YOU have kids yet” and incessant consumerism and short cold days… we can all get a little rattled. In many cases, we turn to food to combat this stress. Well, it also just so happens that grandma made 1,248 sugar cookies yesterday! The combination of high stress + high access to comfort foods is one of the biggest holiday struggles.
Needless to say, it can be really helpful (for your health across the board) to quadruple your focus on distressing this time of year, such as meditation, writing a gratitude journal, or taking a walk to escape grandma — and her sugar cookies.
5. Fiber, Fiber, Fiber
Fiber is amazing. Yes, it helps you feel more full on less calories, which is a huge advantage when tempted to overeat, but the real benefit is that a high-fiber meal also reduces inflammation and blood sugar spikes well into the future. It’s kind of like laying down some guardrails that prevent you from slipping too far.
For this reason, I would especially recommend eating a high-fiber breakfast if you’re planning on eating a larger meal later in the day (my chia pudding is a great option). And, make sure you have high-fiber dishes/snacks to eat throughout the day.
Some of my favorite high-fiber options: chia, flax, beans/lentils, avocado, nuts, barley, sprouted whole wheat bread, and corn.
It would be a mistake to think you must obsessively burn off all the calories you’re eating through exercise right away. That’s probably not a very healthy mindset. And, that extra calorie burn might just encourage you to eat more in the end. Nevertheless, lying on the couch all day isn’t a great idea either. Exercise will always boost your mood and metabolism, but that is especially true this time of year when we can feel so “blah” and unhealthy. Even simple things like staying active, playing games, and running around the yard can all be a big boost to help you feel better. So when you feel like you need another Christmas cookie, maybe try a walk instead?
7. Keep Track
During normal times, most of us do a pretty good job of tracking what we eat throughout the day. Our meals are structured and obvious. During the holidays, however, it becomes a lot easier to lose track of what and how much we’re eating. Appetizers turn into meals which turn into snacks which turn into numerous trips to the dessert trays. Before long, we forget all the calories we’ve eaten until we feel totally sick.
Bringing a little mindfulness into this process can be helpful. Each time you eat something, make a mental note of what it is. Then, eat mindfully and with appreciation. It’s much harder to trick yourself into thinking, “just one more” when you’re eating mindfully.
8. See the Big Picture
The encouraging thing is that your body is really good at recovering from short term stresses like a session or two of overeating – especially if you have otherwise healthy eating habits.
In the grand scheme of an entire year, a few holidays means very little. The much bigger issue is what we do on the other 364 days. For example, even if you managed to eat like 5,000 calories (~3,000 more than you need) on Christmas, that’s equivalent to overeating just EIGHT extra calories on each of the other 364 days. What ultimately matters to your health is not what you eat on one or two holidays, but the healthy habits you instill throughout the year.
The negative feelings of beating up on yourself probably do more damage than a slice of pumpkin pie, so, even if your diet isn’t perfect this time of year, be understanding with yourself and enjoy the holidays!
Recipe of the Month
Posted on Desserts With Benefits
Prep Time = 45 Min
Cook Time = 12 Min
Total Time = 1HR
Serving Size = 2 Cookies
Calories = 130
Fat = 8g
Saturated Fat = 3.5g
Sodium = 85mg
Carbohydrates = 11g
Fiber = 2g
Sugar = 4g
Protein = 3g
Yield – 38 Cookies
These Gingerbread Cookies are lightly sweet, rich, and robust cookies full of molasses, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Unlike typical Gingerbread Cookie recipes, this version is refined sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan!
Posted on Desserts With Benefits
140g (1¼ cups) Almond Meal
120g (1 cup) Oat Flour
96g (½ cup) Granulated Erythritol (or dry sweetener of choice)
1 tbs Ground Ginger
2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
⅛ tsp Ground Nutmeg
⅛ tsp Ground Cloves
1 tsp Double-Acting Baking Powder
½ tsp Salt
168g (½ cup) Molasses
75g (⅓ cup) Coconut Oil (melted)
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Liquid Stevia Extract
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the almond flour, oat flour, erythritol, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking powder, and salt.
In a stand mixer bowl with beater attachment, add the molasses, coconut oil, vanilla, and stevia. Mix on low speed until completely mixed.
- Dump the dry ingredients in the stand mixer and mix until completely mixed. Dough should be dark, sticky, and sweet.
- Roll ⅓ of the dough in between two silicone baking sheets until ~⅛” thick.
- Sprinkle some extra oat flour on a small plate or shallow dish and dip your gingerbread man cookie cutter instead. Dust off the excess flour and punch cookie shapes into the dough. Peel away the dough surrounding the gingerbread man cookies and transfer the silicone sheet onto a cookie tray.
- Bake for 12 minutes, then carefully transfer the silicone sheet onto your counter or a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Keep re-rolling the dough and baking until all the dough is used up. These cookies are best served the day they are made, but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for ~3 days.
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