December, the twelfth month of the year, the time when holidays can create a holidaze, leaving even the most health-committed person saying, "I'll get back on track in the New Year." Well, we all know what putting off for tomorrow what we should do today can do for our health, our energy, our skin and our waistlines. So, this year, to help me best help you, I reached out to some of my favorite experts for their advice on how to stay on track through the holidays. These twelve tips are my gift to you -- and so I begin with my own favorite tip...
1) Treat yourself right during the holidays. The holidays are a special time. Wanting to maintain your health regime is no reason to give up on treating yourself a little extra special during this time. But since when does "treat" mean "eat"? What puts the "tr' in "treat" are things like trimming your hair, trying a new type of massage (I love Thai massage), trekking with a friend (blow off some work and go for a hike, even through the snow!), flying through the air on a trapeze, and trading your errands (with a spouse, a friend, a child). Enjoy your treats this holiday season!
2) Yoga can keep you emotionally and physically grounded during holiday food chaos. Feeling overstuffed? Try Warrior Pose. Plank pose keeps you balanced. And any kind of workout will rev up mood-boosting endorphins. (From Leslie Goldman, women's health writer, author of "Locker Room Diaries," body-image blogger for iVillage)
3a) Enjoy holiday fruits. I know you are surrounded by cookies, candies and cakes, but also surround yourself with the sweet and succulent fruits of the season. I love pomegranate, dried cranberries, sweet pears, oranges with cloves, and baked apples with cinnamon!
3b) Recycle your wrap. Wrapping paper may look pretty, but it is a huge source of waste around the holidays. Instead of buying wrapping paper, I always save colorful tissue paper that is used to wrap clothing in and use it to wrap my gifts. I also use old, patterned bed sheets or tablecloths that you can buy at a thrift shop and cut to size. Tie with a string and reuse over and over. Another idea is to use your children's artwork to wrap presents. Grandparents especially love this one! (From Veronica Bosgraaf, founder of Pure Bar)
4) As the weather gets cold up here in the North, I usually start adding lavender oil to the washing machine. Long ago I gave up fragranced and heavily synthetic washing soaps, and just add a half dozen to a dozen drops of lavender oil to the rinse cycle of the wash. Not only does it leave a hint of summer in the air, but moths seem to hate this essential oil, as well. You can add lavender oil to a small jar containing dried flowers and leave it (open) in your closet, where it will help perfume your belongings as well as possibly helping keep moths away (depending how much oil you put in the jar). Lavender has been used for centuries as a cleansing agent -- in bathwater, for example, and for washing floors. If you have a tub at home, put a few drops of lavender oil in a hot bath in the evening -- very relaxing! (From Michael J. Balick, Ph.D., Vice President for Botanical Science, Director and Philecology Curator Institute of Economic Botany, The New York Botanical Garden)
5) It is very easy to pack on extra pounds over the holidays. It seems that preparing for all of the festivities invades our gym time. To keep your weight at bay and your energy balanced, make your exercise routine a priority. Keep it in your calendar just like an appointment. Get it done in the morning because you will find too many excuses not to exercise later on during the day. Even if you can't make it to the gym, find things that you can do around your home that will charge up the calories. Walk up and down your stairs, power walk around your neighborhood or dust off that old piece of equipment and get moving. Your body will thank you, and you hopefully won't be making that redundant New Year's resolution again. (From Kathy Kaehler, trainer, spokesperson, author)
6a) Holidays are a great time to meet new people. Go out with an open heart and leave home that sweet but awful sweater you got as a Christmas present.
6b) Alone for the holidays? Tell friends as soon as possible so that they can include you. And, there are plenty of opportunities to help out your community and serve those around you this time of year. It's reach out time.
6c) Wan to take a trip but you're without a significant other? Check out the many singles trips that abound this time of year. Gyms are a great resource for this.
6d) Do you and your mate always seem to fight more this time of year? Join the can-we-just-make-it-to-January-2 club! Identify your source of irritation from holidays past. Family? Bad gift giving? Overeating? And talk about it.
6e) You can't change your relatives, but you can change the way you relate to them. Hint. laugh.
6f) Thinking of breaking off a relationship? While holiday time can be lonely, there's nothing worse than kissing someone on New Year's Eve that you have lost affection for. Give yourself the gift of a fresh start for the new year.
6g) And speaking of New Year's, forget the vows. You'll feel a lot better if you practice some self-forgiveness for anything and everything that didn't quite turn out the way you wished in the past year. The one vow I always make is to be a little bit kinder, gentler and more understanding of myself and those I love in the year to come. (From Heide Banks, a nationally recognized relationship expert and frequent contributor to "20/20," "The Early Show," "Good Morning America Health" and The Huffington Post)
7) While I don't count calories, I like to know the calorie count of some holiday foods ahead of time so that I can portion accordingly. One slice of pecan pie is over 500 calories, and I find that I am just as satisfied with half a slice eaten at half the pace, savoring every bite. A whole slice after dinner would most likely leave me feeling too full and a little worried about holiday weight gain, making it less of a pleasure. (From Myra Goodman, founder and owner, Earthbound Farm, and author, "Food to Live By: The Earthbound Farm Organic Cookbook")
8) What's the best way to "eco-ize" any gift this holiday season? Go one step beyond recycled wrapping paper and package up presents in something reusable or repurposed! It makes any gift far more personal and fun. Old maps, newspaper, shopping bags, even plain paper bags (the little ones can go to town decorating them with markers!) are perfect for the job. The receptacle itself can be part of the present, too -- think scarves, towels, totes and baskets. (From Erin Schrode, a young ecoRenaissance woman, the "face of the new green generation," the spokeswoman and co-founder of the United-States-based Turning Green campaign, which promotes global sustainability, youth leadership, environmental education and conscious lifestyle choices)
9) This season, simplify your menus. Enjoy season foods as close to their natural state as possible, with just a few natural ingredients to enhance the flavor and nutritional value of your meals. For example, core an organic apple or pear, drizzle with a mixture of water, organic pure maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and bake in the oven. Brush sliced root vegetables (carrots, turnips, and beets) with a garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil, roast and garnish with sea salt. Melt organic dark chocolate, fold in fresh grated ginger and drizzle over slices of fresh pineapple. Simplifying your menus can free you up to spend more time with friends and family, but you won't sacrifice one iota of flavor. (From Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D., author of "Cinch! Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches")
10) This holiday season share, listen, feel and laugh. Do everything you do with passion and zest and let your worries fall to the wayside, trusting and relishing in the love and blessings that surround you. Your skin will naturally glow, and you will be the most radiant person in the room. Guaranteed! Merry merry... (From Elisha Reverby of Elique Organics, organic skin care and beauty expert, writer, consultant, salon owner, creator of food-based skin nutrition)