This morning, I reached for a pair of skinny jeans I bought back in 2012. After putting them on, I realized they felt a bit tighter from when I bought them over two years ago. Sure, they could’ve shrunk a bit the last time I washed them, but the truth is, recently my workout routines have shifted, and consequently, my body has too.
Since April of 2014, I’ve taken residence in a small town in upstate New York. Upon moving upstate, my exercise routine moved from a really intense regime to one fueled by recreation. My strenuous workouts naturally morphed into challenging hikes with my dog and other recreational activities. In the summer, I found myself paddle-boarding on a daily basis and taking long swims in the lake I had the pleasure of living on. Now that we are in the late days of fall heading into winter, my rhythm is adjusting, again. Though I miss inverting on my yoga mat at the world-class yoga studios NYC provides, (and will get back to this once I return to living in Brooklyn) living upstate allowed me to downshift, rest, and reset. With less environmental stimulation (and stress), exercise right now is strictly for pleasure and mindfulness. So this morning when I noticed my skinny jeans felt extra snug, I chuckled to myself. Yes, I’ve gained a couple of pounds, but the weight I gained feels SO good!
This made me think about the concerns I hear from so many of my clients this time of year. With the holidays upon us, many of my clients cringe at the thought of endless buffets of food full of sweets and treats, complimented with wine and cocktails at late night holiday parties. While the holidays can feel like the perfect storm of obstacles in our path to our intended goals, the truth is, they can also be a lot of fun!
Though the holidays and the festivities that come along with them can interrupt our routines and impose indulgence upon us, sometimes interrupting our routines and indulging is a good thing. Having massively interrupted my own routine by moving to Copake, NY to live in the country, I found that changing things up felt healing. My heart is full, my head is clear, and my body is deeply rested. (Maybe it was time for a new pair of jeans, anyway?!)
With that in mind, I want to remind you of the benefits of pleasure. Often pleasure is thought of as a luxury, but in truth it’s a necessity. Pleasure induces feel good hormones like oxytocin, which helps to manage stress, bond with others, become more trusting, and slow down our nervous system. Pleasure has the ability to replenish us, rejuvenate our well-being, amplify our resilience, strengthen our relationships, and energize our creativity. Remember, happiness and well-being promote our success. From this perspective, pleasure feeds our brilliance.
So this Thanksgiving, I put together a list of six things you can do to have more pleasure and less worry during the holidays.
1. Stay hydrated. I know this sounds silly, but the truth is, it isn’t. Having adequate water consumption will keep you from over-indulging in foods that aren’t in your best interest. By staying hydrated, you may find you are less hungry and better able to say no to that second serving of pecan pie. Also, if you do indulge in alcohol consumption, water is necessary to flush the system out and keep you from getting a hangover.
2. Limit the caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that can deplete the adrenals of precisely what they need to manage blood sugar, regulate your circadian rhythms, and help you manage stress. Avoid going into caffeine-induced overdrive.
3. Steer clear of food sensitivities. I know avoiding gluten and dairy this time of year can be hard, but the truth is if you do have food sensitivities, it’s important to stay consistent with your diet. There’s nothing worse than the brain fog and bloating that come along with neglecting to avoid the foods that you don’t tolerate.
4. Eat slowly. Take the time to chew your food. Put your fork down between bites and taste your food. Slowly chewing your food is the first step in digesting it fully. By eating mindfully, you may find you are able to derive more pleasure and actually consume less without feeling like you are restricting. Savor your indulgences and enjoy them!
5. Tend to your digestion. Make sure you are taking a strong probiotic or are making a point of eating fermented foods. This is a great way ensure your digestion is full of healthy bacteria and can break down the food you are eating and eliminate it properly. While replenishing the gut with healthy bacteria is an important daily task year round, with an increase in sweets this time of year, it’s even more important. Remember, 95% of our serotonin is produced in our gut. Ward off the holiday blues by taking exceptional care of your digestion.
6. Practice Gratitude. Gratitude enhances our well-being. Staying in an appreciative state deeply impacts our ability to amplify our happiness in an authentic way. Savor the moment. The holidays will come and go, and practicing conscious gratitude will allow you to anchor into the moment, see all that is right, and increase your ability to feel happy. Try this: make a list of everything that is going well for you. You may be surprised with what you find yourself putting down.
As the food and festivities begin, be careful not to equate how you feel in your clothes to how well you are doing in life. Try to look more objectively at the overarching theme happening for you now. In my case, gaining a little feels healthy, something I am proud of. I am not suggesting abandoning weight loss goals or derailing efforts to look and feel your best. Instead, I am suggesting to look at what is going right, and allow yourself to have pleasure, without allowing negative self-talk to hold you back.
It’s more important to deliberately enjoy the food you are eating, than to rush through eating only to feel guilty the second you put your fork down. Or restrict to the point of deprivation only to give into a binge later. Practice staying in a pleasurable, positive, state. This will allow your body to digest and eliminate at it’s best—a key factor in healthy eating.
I am so grateful this Thanksgiving to have you in my life! Thank you so much for being a part of my world.
I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to leave a comment below and let me know how you are going to have more pleasure and less stress this holiday season.
As always, I send you my love!