The holidays have come and gone … again. While they can be quite wonderful, they are usually also quite stressful. Many if not most of us make New Year’s resolutions, and then what happens? They somehow quietly go by the wayside. Take, for example, resolutions to lose weight. While understandable, and many of us gain weight during the holidays or just want to get thinner and healthier for the coming bathing suit season, the emotional reasons we overeat are still present within us. So are the old habits. So are the old dieting patterns, which often end up in a blaze of smoke!
Let’s take the weight gain phenomenon. While we want to get that number on the scale down and want to see the extra fat on our bodies dissipate, what is really more important? Overall health or weight? Or is the overweight just one of many health factors wanting … needing … to be conquered? If you answered yes to this last question, congratulations - you are definitely on the right track!
Let’s start with what you eat. It’s just so hard to resist those tempting goodies with sugar and flour, and all the overly processed foods we seem to love so much. But what if you started out with eating something health-giving first, like veggies which can be oh so delicious. If you are thinking iceberg lettuce salads, think again. There are wide varieties of salad greens available, like romaine lettuce, spinach, cabbage, kale, and other types of veggies you can put inside a delicious salad like onions, tomatoes, cucumber, shredded carrots, steamed beets, etc. The list is endless. In fact, the more color your salad has, the more nutrients you are getting. You can use a tasty yet healthy dressing for your salad, and you can also “hide” some healthy veggies in smoothies! In fact, when juicing or making smoothies, try putting in some lighter-sugar fresh fruits like a small piece of apple or berries to sweeten it up. That can make the taste of the veggies more bearable if you don’t already like those flavor profiles. In fact, in time, many people who change their eating styles for their health end up liking healthier foods more than junk foods! (Yes, it happened to me.) Try to enjoy healthier cuts of meat, and make your fats healthy, like using pure butter instead of margarine, or coconut oil, or extra virgin olive oil, as examples. Watch both the quantity and quality of your carbs overall, and especially if you are enjoying the vegetarian/vegan eating lifestyle.
So, how well do you take care of yourself? If you’re like most Americans, not too well. In fact, if you have kids, you often find yourself putting them first (nothing wrong with that) but then not leaving enough time to take care of yourself. Think about the role model you are making for your kids. Do you remember the old saying, actions speak louder than words? It happens to have a great deal of truth in it. So, remember to factor in time to be mindful, whether it be through meditation, yoga, taking a bubble bath, diffusing essential oils, binaural beats, Bible study, reading, listening to music, or any other method that helps you unwind and get centered again. Think about how much more loving and effective you can be when you are relaxed yet energetic, and your mind and body is centered – not thinking of things you have yet to do, or worrying about other people, or lamenting how you handled things in the past. Yes, it’s much easier said than done, but with enough practice, it’s amazing how much difference you can make in your own life and in those around you.
Last, but definitely not least, focus on how you can become a better parent. It sometimes only takes a little tweaking as to how you respond to your kids, your role model to them, how you and your significant other interact, especially in front of the kids. Changing a tone of voice, practicing becoming one voice from two parents, etc. are often things that don’t take much time to learn and to change, but they can certainly make a world of difference in how successful your kids grow up to be! Remember that the authoritative parenting style is the one that has the best results, both for the parents as well as for the kids.
Perhaps most importantly – be kind to yourself and to those around you. It’s the old Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Positive change takes time. Be loving, patient, and forgiving to yourself and to your kids and others in your world. Undoubtedly there are no human beings alive or deceased who never made mistakes. The important thing is to learn and grow – to make lemonade out of lemons.
And as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
Dr. Donna Poppendieck (Dr. P) has over 30 years of experience in the mental health care field. She is a seasoned college professor and instructor for providers. She uses credible, proven holistic health strategies in instruction for parents of children with mental health challenges looking for another approach as well as healthcare providers seeking to implement or understand holistic strategies.