First thing to do:
Go set up that support system!
Having a group of friends to share your goals with is so important. It is one of the best ways of insuring success at any endeavor. Don't hook up with the naysayers and the ones who point out where your plans can go wrong at every turn. Instead look for the friends who are close enough to you to give honest feedback about your goals but who are still there to cheer for you when you meet even the smallest challenge. Get together regularly with those friends who can hold you accountable when you stray from your chosen track. If your goal is to eat a healthier diet and cut back on how much sugar you eat, share your goal with the girls. Then when they find out you've eaten half a pint of ice cream in a sitting, they can remind you (as firmly as necessary) of your goal and why you want to achieve the goal.
My mother used to say she was "brutally honest" and so she was - she was willing to tell you her opinion even when you weren't going to be happy hearing it. But, the key is that when she gives that opinion that you don't want to hear, it is always because she really and truly feels it will help you become a better person to hear the stark truth. And while I would still advise choosing your words carefully, there can be a huge benefit to having this type of friend around.
Slick, Spinster Beth and I get together almost every week. While we cook dinner, we talk about what's going on in our lives. We talk about what's happened with the kids, whether the week has been stressful, what happened at the gym, news about our extended families, and on and on and on. Though some of the topics I have given here as examples may not seem related to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, they really are. Our discussions provide a measurement of overall stress level, physical well being and what we might need for support in other areas. Often my husband and Slick's are also at these gatherings, and so are the children, so we also try to make time to go out together for "girls-only" time too. We leave the kids (or most of them, the baby still gets to come along for now!) behind for some dad-time and head for the spa, local museums, a tea room, or even just the mall to talk and share news that might not be ... appreciated... by the Guys.
This blog is actually one of the results of the friendship we've built by getting together and supporting one another. It really is one of our strongest assets in our efforts to maintain good health. When I seem tired or stressed out, they suggest that it might be time to get away for a bit and remind me that it's good for my children to have time with Pop. I have watched Slick's daughter when the school was closed and she couldn't get away from work; Spinster Beth has asked me to check in on her dog when the dog was ill. We send e-mails, comment on Facebook and make phone calls to keep those connections strong.
So what else? Well, there are all the "old standards" - stay closer to the veggie trays than the deserts; eat a healthy meal or drink water before going to parties; make sure to schedule time for yourself on the calendar - and use that time for a healthy activity and not to take care of errands (I often fail on this count!) When you eat, keep "proper" portion sizes in the back of your mind. One thing I do when eating out is to try to eat what would fill my kids' stomachs as opposed to a huge "adult" plate.
|Tomato soup alongside mixed greens salad |
with veggie-chicken strips and pomegranate seeds
I don't order from the kids' menu, necessarily - because I don't always (okay, I don't USUALLY) want what is on the kids menu and rarely find it to be truly healthy - but I take my adult plate and envision how much of that plate would equal a "kids" size and then I eat about a third more than that and take the rest home or share it with someone else. Sometimes I eat the whole plate but as the baby gets older and nurses less, I find I am not inclined to eat as much as I do when he is getting ready for a growth spurt (a time when his nursing needs increase and so does my need for increased calories!)
I've mentioned before that I am a pesci-vegetarian. That means that I eat a diet that is primarily vegetarian but does sometimes include seafood. In the church I attend, certain days and times of the year are considered "fasting" periods and we are encouraged to refrain from eating fish, dairy, eggs, wine or oils. This subject really can be a whole 'nother blog post BUT I'll say this about it here and with regard to the topic of this blog post, which is about surviving the holiday cheer: Though we rarely manage to follow the strictest fasting recommendations, the mere effort to cut back on dairy, eggs and seafood can drastically change the ways we think about and relate and react to food - and to how much of our food falls into the "not-so-healthy" category.
Most of this post revolves around making sure your support system is in place and strong and often used - that is because I really do think nearly anything can be achieved with just that sort of system in place. I hope the other suggestions are helpful as well as we enter this final week before the 12 Days of Christmas really start to swing and we roll merrily on to the New Year and a new set of resolutions!