Only 18 days until Christmas!

I don’t know about you, but reading that number just gave me a slight panic attack.

This is the time of year when we’re supposed to be joyful, merry, and bright. But what we really are is frazzled, stressed, and tired. Between shopping for presents, going to Christmas programs and parties, decorating, baking, and traveling to see friends and family, it’s no wonder our jeans feel a little tight when the New Year arrives. We barely have time to sleep, let alone exercise or think about eating nutritious food.

A couple weeks ago, I hit a wall where my exhaustion became chronic. My busy schedule had squeezed out healthy habits I used to do practically in my sleep. I was doing what I could, but with another month of holiday busyness, something needed to change.

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When I stepped back and evaluated, it became clear that I was letting my calendar control me, rather than the other way around. So how did I get back on track? I set aside time to make a detailed schedule.

Now I know some of you are wincing already. Details and schedules are NOT your thing. Trust me, they’re not necessarily mine either. But sometimes we have to do things we don’t like to reach a goal that matters more.

And yes, when I say I made a detailed schedule, I mean D.E.T.A.I.L.E.D. I outlined my week in 30-minute increments. Then I took all my scattered lists and calendars and put them into the official schedule.

When I made this schedule, I had two specific health goals in mind: (1) Do some form of exercise each day; (2) Make healthy eating choices.

As for goal #1, my detailed schedule allowed me to see the time slots where exercise could happen. It was a given on the days I teach fitness classes. But on the other days, I had to get creative. Some days it meant 20 minutes on the elliptical after supper, others it meant doing my Yoga Studio app in between appointments. The key was to write it all down, which allowed me to see my windows of opportunity and take advantage of them.

As far as healthy eating choices, I wrote my meals and snacks on the schedule too, with specific foods planned out. Again, I know this sounds extremely tedious, but planning ahead of time helped me avoid last-minute thinking that would’ve ended in a poor choice.

For instance, instead of getting busy with work and mindlessly grabbing a piece of my kids’ leftover pizza for lunch, I glanced at my schedule, saw my lunch plan of whole grain toast with hummus, meat, and veggies, and ate that instead. Some of the foods were tweaked or adjusted in the moment. But again, seeing a healthy option took the guesswork out of it and set me up for success.

This might sound time-consuming — and to be honest, it does take a little work upfront — but the hour I spent planning saved me a ton of stress throughout the week. Not only the stress of feeling like I was juggling way too many things, but also the stress that comes with making poor health choices and living with the regret and sluggishness they bring.

So what does this mean for you?

If your stress is piling up, take a step back and evaluate. By planning a schedule — with healthy choices built in — you just might survive the holidays with your sanity (and your waistline) intact.

Happy planning!

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ONE SIMPLE STEP: What two health goals are most important to you this holiday season? Write them down and share them with a friend.

ONE STEP FURTHER: Once you have your health goals in mind, set aside time to create a detailed plan, incorporating your goals into your daily schedule. If you shared your goals with a friend, ask them to check in with you halfway through the week. Accountability will keep you on track!


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One Healthy Step to Survive the Holidays