Christmas and Hanukkah have passed, and hopefully we enjoyed family, friends, and fellowship, along with fun feasts and festive food. Especially in climes where the weather is more conducive to snuggling by the fireplace and drinking a hot cocoa or hot toddy, it is tempting to continue the feeding frenzy and to hibernate in those new fleece pajama pants until January 1, when we flip a magic switch and transition to our new 2018 resolutions. Here are 5 encouragements to starting on those fitness-based paths NOW. You will be in a better mental and physical place come mid-January!
1) The days are getting longer! Little by little, our daylight is increasing. You may have missed it in the pre-Christmas busyness, but December 21 marked the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. From now until June 21, we are gaining precious minutes of daylight each day. Who isn’t happy about that? Perhaps you can squeeze in a short walk before or after work, or make it to the gym at the beginning or end of your workday, with a little more sunlight to inspire you! At any rate, you will be cheered by the gradual increase in daylight as you begin your commute or daily routine.
2) Use those new gifts! Chances are you received some new cookbooks, kitchen gadgets, or workout togs or gear this holiday season. Unpack and wash them, and show them off. Don those new gloves, hats, and fleeces and hit the hiking trails. Use gift cards to take advantage of the post-holiday sales and choose your own exercise or culinary gifts and start using them right away.
3) Get a head start establishing a new healthy habit. We have all heard that it takes 21 days to establish a new habit. Starting your eating , exercise and self care now gives you a jump on the rest of the population. By the third week in January, when all but the diehard gym folk have cleared out, you will have already happily established your new workout and/or diet routine.
4) Don’t neglect your mind and spirit. There is more to good health than diet and physical exercise. Meditate, pray, be still, read books that nurture your soul or expand your knowledge in an area you’ve decided to explore. Modern medicine is now appreciating what many yogis have long known—the mind/body connection is powerful and understanding it is crucial to managing our health. Take advantage of the relatively calm period between Christmas and New Year’s and carve out some time for intellectual and spiritual “activities.”
5) Remember that socializing is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. New Year’s Eve gatherings, New Year’s Day football games and neighborhood open houses shouldn’t be avoided simply because you’re afraid to “fall off the healthy wagon”. Decide in advance what food or drink you will avoid at a function, fill up on water before an event, or simply announce that you a gifting yourself one guilt-free “day off” during which you will enjoy anything you wish. But firmly resolve that tomorrow marks a return to the healthy habits. And most importantly, concentrate on conversing with fellow guests. No matter how reluctant you may be before a party, you will feel happier having engaged with people in a positive way.