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Strategies for a Healthy Holiday Season

The holidays can be a challenging time to stay healthy. With holiday parties, demands on our time, and treats and desserts everywhere, it can be tempting to give up and wait for that New Years Resolution to get back on track.

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can still enjoy your holidays, and even some treats, without having January regrets, by following some simple practices.

Make a Plan

As with anything you’d like to accomplish, it helps to have a plan. What will your plans for staying healthy be this December? Think through what your upcoming week or day will be like and decide, in advance, what you would like to happen in terms of health behaviors. By making a deliberate plan, you are more likely to choose healthy and feel better.

What will your healthy holiday plan be this year?

Keep Moving

For your overall health, and in particular if you have back pain, it is essential that you find ways to keep moving throughout the holiday season. While you may not be able to keep up your normal routines, you may be able to find ways to fit movement into your holidays.

Ask yourself, can you:

  • Walk or ride a bicycle to work? Can you walk part of the way?
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator?
  • Find ways to take mini fitness breaks and do three callisthenic exercises, such as push-ups, lunges and squats?
  • Awaken 10 minutes early to begin each day with a refreshing morning yoga routine?
  • Take a 20- or 30-minute walk each day? This could be around your neighborhood, a mid-day walk, or even two or three 10-minute walks around your block or building.

What will you do this holiday season to be sure that movement is a part of each day?

Give yourself a foundation of balanced nutrition.

It is easy to let nutritional habits slip any time of the year, and each year we hear reports of pounds gained during the holiday season. But, it doesn’t have to be. This year, instead of passively letting nutritional habits slide, focus on providing yourself a solid foundation of balanced nutrition by following these three simple tips.

  • Think of each meal as a protein, a complex carbohydrate, and a fruit and/or vegetable. If you stick with this basic formula, it won’t matter as much if you indulge in a cookie here or an eggnog there.
  • Eat three healthy meals or four-to-six smaller meals, whichever works best for you. Schedules and individual preferences can help determine which approach is best for you. Just try not to have more than three full meals, or get into the habit of all-day grazing.
  • Save your splurges until after a meal. You will have less spiking – followed by a sudden drop – of blood sugar and brain chemicals such as serotonin and beta-endorphin if you consume sweets or simple carbs after a balanced meal.

You could try the 90/10 rule, which is simply to consume 90% of your calories as healthy food choices, with 10% splurge foods. This way you still get to enjoy and be a part of the holiday treats, while still feeling good and maintaining your weight.

Make time for self-care

Between work, family responsibilities and the additional demands of the holidays, meeting your own needs can take a back seat. But it is even more important this time of year to put self-care at the top of your to-do list.

Even the little things can make a difference. Take a few minutes today to think about any self-care practices that you would enjoy during the holidays. Maybe it’s taking ten minutes in the morning to relax with a cup of tea, going for a walk with a friend whose company you enjoy, or scheduling a much-needed massage.

Some positive aspects of self-care are that there are no rules or criteria to meet, it can take as little as 5 minutes a day, and can vary or be a consistent routine. You get to decide what works best for you.

And when you take care of yourself, you are not only benefitting personally, you will also be able to help others more.

What self-care activities will you enjoy in the next week?

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Copyright ©2015-present, Mary A. Williams/Corporate Health Alliance, LLC/BACKCoach™. All rights reserved.


Stay Back-Healthy this Holiday Season

snow-sled When it comes to the holidays, it can be difficult to keep up with any health-related progress we may have made during the year. However, while our schedules may vary from predictable routines, we can still stay on track – or at least not get too far off track – during the holidays. Allow me to share some simple tips, based on the three primary contributing factors for back pain.

  1. Movement. While getting to the gym or going out for your regular run may be challenging during the holidays, you can still find time for movement by thinking ahead and making a plan. Keep in mind that, while regular exercise is great for your overall health, it is regular movement of any kind that is important for warding off back pain.
  • Try to keep things simple or substitute a more basic routine for your usual one.
  • Consider using some of your family time to take a walk after dinner, or see if any of your family members would like to sign up for a fun run.
  • With a simple yoga mat, you can begin your day with sun salutations or another basic yoga routine.
  • Fit in strength training in 5-10 minutes with some quick lunges, squats and push-ups, or once a day take the stairs rather than the elevator.
  • If you are used to a full exercise schedule, it’s ok to reduce the amount of activity, but be sure to do something active 3-5 times each week.


Standing is the New Sitting

man standing at adjustable-height desk

There’s nothing like a catchy slogan to succinctly convey a complex concept, and “Sitting is the New Smoking” has done just that. More meaningful than the original “<Blank> is the New Black”, it’s become evident over years of research that the ease of information creation and flow brought about by technology has come at a cost to our overall health.

Prolonged sitting has been associated with pronounced increases in obesity, metabolic syndrome, and death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. Further, early research is showing that even regular exercise does little to counteract the effects of too many hours spent in a chair.

The good news is that there are many ways to make big changes in the amount of time you spend sitting each day, both at work and after hours, leading not only to reducing your health risk, but gaining improvements in creativity, focus, and energy. (more…)

Healthy Aging Requires a Balanced Posture

Healthy golferNearly all of us began our lives with naturally balanced posture. Yet, along the way, we modeled the posture of others, spent our days inactive and, over time, transformed our beautifully designed musculoskeletal systems into an imbalanced, overworked, and often-painful body framework. If we want to be healthy as we age, learning how to balance our postures and mechanics is essential.

When our bodies are not properly balanced, there are several consequences:

  • Our joints don’t move fluidly, may lose some of their natural range of motion and suffer needless wear and tear because our bones don’t track properly. This can contribute to both a reduction in function as well as pain or debilitating conditions such as osteoarthritis (more…)

Vacation is good for your back

Vacations are good for back pain

If you’re looking for a reason to go on a vacation this year, add this one to the list: it’s good for your back.

Why is vacation good for your back? Because it addresses three of the reasons that your back hurts.

First, one of the most significant contributors to back pain is stress. And not the type of stress that is a major event that causes a big stress response and demands some type of response. No, the way that stress leads to back pain is those daily pain-in-the-neck stressors like commuting to work, getting both you and the family out of the house in a timely manner day after day, or dealing with the daily frustrations of the workplace.