With the holidays coming up, I wanted to share 3 ideas to help you stay healthy and well this holiday season. These have worked well for me personally, and I hope they're helpful for you too.
I know...this might sound crazy to you. It's the holidays, we're supposed to be indulging, right?
Hear me out...
Just to clarify, I'm not referring to the natural sugars found in fruit. I'm referring specifically to refined sugar. Sugar is highly addictive, it creates inflammation, and it drains our energy.
Studies have linked sugar consumption to an increased risk of: weight gain, acne, depression, cancer, skin aging, type II diabetes, heart disease, and fatty liver, just to name a few! Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you can read the full article on the harmful effects of sugar here.
Don't worry, I'm not judging anyone! I used to eat a ton of sugar. I legit would eat a jumbo bag of Trolli Sour Brite Crawlers, Flaming Hot Cheetos, and a cream soda as my post-dinner snack back in the day. 😹
About 2 years ago, I began my journey to eat less sugar. This started when I was practicing daily with my first Ashtanga teacher. I couldn't figure out why it was that during the holiday season I had no energy and could barely complete my practice, when the month before I was feeling great and far more energized.
Long story short, I figured out that it was my poor diet and high sugar intake that was impacting my body and my energy levels.
At first, it was challenging to stop eating sugar (it is highly addictive). With time, mindfulness, and many cheat days in between; I've finally made it to a place in my life where I generally don't buy products with sugar, bake things with sugar, or consume sugar on a regular basis.
You might think this sounds extreme, but it's not! My general rule of thumb is that I will indulge and eat sugar under "special" circumstances or if someone bakes / gifts me something with sugar in it, I will happily eat it.
And to be honest with you this little method works great for me. I never feel like I'm missing out and I also don't crave sweet things like I used to. Now that I'm in the habit of keeping away from sugar, I generally feel strong and energized in both my practice and in life in general.
Of course, "everything in moderation" makes sense here, but I do encourage you to take time away from sugar to see and feel the benefits for yourself!
The good news is that I've discovered many excellent sugar alternatives for sweet holiday baking! The only downside is that they are a bit more expensive than the real thing, but it's a price that I'm willing to pay!
FAVORITE SUGAR SUBSTITUTES FOR HOLIDAY BAKING
Maple Syrup Alternative: Lakanto Maple Flavored Syrup
Confectioners Sugar and Granular Sugar Alternative: Swerve Sweetener, Bakers Bundle, Granular and Confectioners, 12 oz, Pack of 2
Brown Sugar Alternative: Swerve Sweetener, Brown, 12 oz
Semisweet Baking Chips: Lily's Chocolate 45% Cocoa Semi-Sweet Baking Chips, 9 oz
All the products I've tried from Lily's Chocolate are great. They have peanut butter cups, chocolate covered treats, a variety of chocolate chips, and they are all sweetened with stevia and taste like real sugar!
Get a head start on your New Year's Resolution and keep moving during the holidays.
One silver lining to the whole COVID situation is that there's now an abundance of livestream classes available online! Practice with your favorite teachers (me? 🤗🙏) from anywhere in the world!
One of my favorite things to do is get in a nice sweaty workout or yoga practice before heading to a family dinner to feast my little heart out!
Although the holidays are supposed to be a time of celebration, let's be real-- in certain situations the holidays can also be stressful and/or sad.
Working out regularly helps to naturally improve our energy levels and our mood. Stay focused on loving and taking care of yourself, and you will never go wrong!
Families span across multiple generations and live in different communities and locations around the globe. This means that when we're sitting at the holiday table, we'll likely find ourselves surrounded by people with very different perspectives and opinions than us.
As we spend time gathering with our friends and family this year, I'm encouraging you to take a yogi's approach. To be mindful and try to listen without judgment, to be empathetic, and to try and see from another person's perspective. There's no point in trying to make another person think and see life in the same way that you do.
Be kind and aspire to cultivate a deeper understanding of the people you spend your time with this year. Strive to live your life, and be authentically you, without having to judge someone for holding a different opinion than you do.
These are just a few habits that I've been practicing during the holidays in recent years that have proven to be helpful for me.
I no longer view the holidays as an opportunity to indulge recklessly for 2 months straight and force myself to "begin again" in the new year. Life feels healthier, happier, and more balanced this way and I encourage you to seek to create balance in your holiday self-care routines too.
I wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy holiday season this year. Be well and remember to always choose love.