Holiday Break

I have to say that I am very lucky this year. Tom and I are heading to Columbia after Christmas – so for the first time in a long time, I can say I am really taking advantage of this whole holiday “break” that is upon us (HOW DID THAT HAPPEN SO FAST??) But what if you can’t get away? Studies have shown time and time again that we (as a society) are too logged in – too connected and engaged. Too stressed.

Dr. Jame Sadler writes in an article for Dallas News called The danger of stress – and how to fight it that “according to the Harvard Mental Health Letter (March 2011), sustained stress levels can contribute to high blood pressure, clogged arteries and specific brain changes that perpetuate anxiety and may lead to depression and addiction. They suggest that ‘chronic stress’ may lead to obesity due to increased appetite and lack of both sleep and exercise. Not surprisingly, technology has increased depression, anxiety and sleep disorders (University of Gothenburg, 2012). In 2011, the American Psychological Association reported that approximately 25 percent of Americans experienced stress levels as high as 8 out of 10 (on a 10-point scale). Another 50 percent reported moderate stress levels as high as 4 to 7 out of 10. The cause of these symptoms can frequently be attributed to multitasking in our busy life. We bring work home when we should decompress. We choose this work over exercise, which is an activity that could relieve our stress.”

Basically – we ALL NEED A BREAK! I would like to challenge our FIT readers to really embrace your holiday break this year. Even if you can’t get away, or even if you are technically getting away – but that means fighting millions of travelers with three sick children to get to a houseful of stressful family members, there are little ways to de-stress, disengage, disconnect, and be present.

One way to “get away” from your own bad habits is to practice Mindfulness. According to Psychology TodayMindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience. AKA: put down your iphone and really listen to what your child, or parent, or spouse is saying. Disconnect from Facebook this week to stay present to your own experience instead of comparing the experience to everyone else’s. Take a few pictures of the Christmas tree or your pet in a silly Santa hat, and then put down the camera and actually live in the moment and commit the moment to memory. Eat mindfully too. Have a cookie and then walk away. Do you really want another cookie twenty minutes later? Have a glass of wine and then have a glass of water. Assess whether you really want to eat or drink more or if you are just mindlessly drinking and eating. Check your work email and then put it away. Checking in every hour won’t help anyone (particularly those co-workers who are really trying to stay present with family). Unless there is a huge fire to put out, getting to that email a day later should be fine.

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Make sure to take some time for yourself as well next week. If you have kids, see if your spouse or a grandparent or sibling can step in for an hour so that you can go for a run/walk or sneak into a yoga class. Or, heck, just sleep in for a bit! Then you can offer to do the same for them so that they can make a little time for something they need. Another good suggestion? Make a healthful breakfast for everyone after that calorie laden Christmas Eve or Christmas Day dinner because YOU want it. If you can lower your stress level a little bit, everyone will be thankful you took the time for yourself. Wouldn’t it be lovely to start 2015 feeling rested and ready instead of hungover and cranky?

So with this in mind, I would like to announce that the FITgals will be taking a break until the New Year to revamp our website, blog, and prep for some exciting announcements. We suggest you all unplug, reboot, and enjoy a real “break”.

LIZ Xmas

xoxo

FITintheCITY

Give the Gift of…

With Hanukkah starting tonight and Christmas just around the corner, ’tis time to find that perfect last minute gift.

For the foodie: Cookbooks are a great gift! Need some guidance? Check out Prune! From Gabrielle Hamilton, bestselling author of Blood, Bones & Butter, comes her eagerly anticipated cookbook debut filled with signature recipes from her celebrated New York City restaurant Prune. Another great suggestion: JerusalemIn Jerusalem, Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi explore  the vibrant cuisine of their home city—with its diverse Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities. Both men were born in Jerusalem in the same year—Tamimi on the Arab east side and Ottolenghi in the Jewish west. This stunning cookbook offers 120 recipes from their unique cross-cultural perspective, from inventive vegetable dishes to sweet, rich desserts. With five bustling restaurants in London and two stellar cookbooks, Ottolenghi is one of the most respected chefs in the world; in Jerusalem, he and Tamimi have collaborated to produce their most personal cookbook yet.

For the FITgal: Give the gift of classes to your FIT friend. Either buy a package from a favored studio, or check out Class Pass! You can go to any participating studio (and in DC, that refers to pretty much all of them) 3 times and go to as many studios as you want all for $99!

For the significant other: Book an experience the two of you can enjoy. Enjoy a nice glass of wine or a strong Old Fashioned? Head to VA and hit up some wineries, distilleries, and breweries. We are looking forward to visiting Catoctin Creek Distillery on our next trip! Use AirBNB to find great deals on an overnight! Or how about a destination restaurant? Volt and The Inn at Little Washington are both restaurants not to be missed outside of DC.

 

Other tips?

Shop local! Check out Kurtz + Atkins for awesome home decor inspiration…we are LOVING these vintage lights. Trohv is another favorite DC shop for unique gifts and beautiful handmade furniture and home finishes. (There is also a storefront in Baltimore).

Give the gift that keeps on giving all year long. Blue Apron, “___ of the month” clubs, magazine subscriptions, and museum memberships are all great gifts!

Make a donation. Identify a cause that is close to the receivers heart and make a donation in his or her name.

Happy Holidays!!

xoxo

The FITgals

Motivation Station

It is really easy to succumb to the lure of the glass of red wine/tea, couch, slippers, and fireplace during the winter. Particularly around the holidays – since, if you are like us, you are so busy with work, holiday parties and prepping for your own celebration, exercise seems like a perfect New Year’s resolution (the whole “I will start back up in January…” excuse). To make things even more challenging, your favorite studio is closing down for the holidays and your trainer is out of town…so now what do you do??

It is time to self-motivate!

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1. Have access to a treadmill? Start binge-watching that TV program or podcast (SERIAL!!) you have been meaning to get to. Commit to one program and try to run for as much of the 25-60 minutes (depending on the show) as you can. Not a runner? Put the incline up every 5 minutes and then bring it back down while maintaining a steady pace. If you don’t have a treadmill at home or a membership to a gym because you aren’t really a gym-type, check with local hotels, community colleges, colleges, YMCA’s and gyms about specials. You may be able to pay a guest fee or just pay for a month to get you through to the New Year. This is a great tip for those who are traveling for the holidays too! **Here’s where we need a little help! Serial is ending next week so if any of our FIT readers have a good podcast or TV show to recommend, we would love some motivation ourselves!

2. AKT InMotion videos. They are fun, easy to do at home (because you need little to no equipment) and reasonably priced. They are also only 10 minutes (on average) so even the busiest FIT reader can find the time for them.

AKT inMotion

3. Phone-a-friend. Once Dec. 23rd hits, most people will have a chunk of time off between Christmas and the New Year. Check in with friends and family and set a few dates to take a walk or take a class. This is a great way to catch up in a healthy way. Recommend this healthy alternative to friends trying to get together for a holiday dinner/drink too.

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4. Do this power-program 4 times a week.

Plank 30 secs (elbows!)

Body Blasters (“burpees”) – 10 reps

Squat hops – 10 reps

Push-ups – 10 reps

Tricep Dips (either reverse plank position or off a chair or step) – 10 reps

Bicycle crunches – 10/side

REPEAT 3 TIMES!!

Any tips you would like to share on staying motivated this winter? Please share!!

xoxo