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Holiday Recovery 101

How many of you are suffering through the ‘January Blahs’? It’s no wonder for many of us this month seems to go on forever. We women hold it together through the hectic holiday season, running the show, with not a minute to even think about getting sick or slowing down. Then, along comes January and we look forward to a little down-time only to be slammed by a nasty cold/sinus infection/cough/insert other annoying bug or virus here. This year, we want to help you make the transition from the December crazies to the dreary or monotonous months of January in good health and good spirits. Here’s the plan:

GET SOME EXERCISE:
Be kind to your body and do not punish it with extra trips to the gym and grueling pain-inducing workouts just because you managed to eat too much shortbread over the holidays. Focus on feeling healthy, not guilty. Get some cardio to keep your spirits up, plus some strength exercises to make sure you’re staying toned for when the winter clothes are shed again. Rome wasn’t built in a day and that holiday flab isn’t leaving you that soon either. Resolve to be kind to your body and keep it strong and healthy, to improve your blood circulation, boost your energy levels, and to get some alone time to concentrate on yourself. And if you can’t get to the gym, promise yourself you will get in a small walk, some stretching, or just some hopping around to music a few times a week while cooking dinner or doing housework.

COOK FROM SCRATCH:
Okay, we do realize that not everybody is adept in the kitchen but after a month of fatty foods, sweets, and culinary indulgences, there is something very appealing about a big bowl of homemade vegetable soup and some warm bread, or a nice baked chicken breast with garlic mashed potatoes and wilted spinach. Maybe now is that time to take that slow cooker your great-aunt  gave you three Christmases ago out of the box and give it a whirl. The internet is your friend when it comes to simple, healthy recipes in a flash.

KEEP UP WITH HOBBIES AND FRIENDS:
Kids go back to school in January (hallelujah) but so can we grown-ups! Adult classes are starting a new semester in January as well, so why not sign up for some pottery, carpentry, creative writing, or salsa dance lessons? Having somewhere to go one evening a week helps to fend off the winter blahs, and meeting new friends is just a wonderful bonus.

Keeping up with old friends is another promise you should make yourself this winter. Once the enforced ‘togetherness’ of the holidays is over and we’ve all had time to catch our breath, it’s nice to get together and share a quiet glass of wine with some of your nearest and dearest. When it’s cold and blowy outside, and nobody really wants to brave the noise and clamour of a pub, converge at each other’s houses for some quality time. It’s a great way to stave off the isolation and melancholy that can set in after the holidays are over and winter sets in.

LIMIT CAFFEINE AND SUGAR INTAKE:
When it’s freezing outside or you’re stressed by playing catch-up after taking time away from the office, a nice hot drink could be just what the doctor ordered. Yet by mid-February many of us often find ourselves on a caffeine induced rollercoaster of fatigue and then sleeplessness. Make it a mission to find non-caffeinated substitutes for your favourite orange pekoes and lattes. There have never been so many varieties of herbal teas or decaffeinated coffees on the market, so dive in and see what you like. You may find that the ritual of sipping from a steaming mug is just as satisfying whether it’s rocket fuel coffee or lemon and honey. And if you simply can’t imagine cutting out caffeine altogether, make sure you don’t consume any after 4pm so that it will have worn off by bedtime.

Similarly, the sugary sweets we indulged in over the holidays actually drain our energy. The high  we first experience is actually a spike in our blood sugar level which then causes our body to release insulin. That means a subsequent crash. And if you’re having your sugar with a dose of caffeine, you’ve got yourself a vicious cycle. Take those leftover cookies and treats, and pop them in the freezer (if you just can’t bear to toss them). Not only will you have a small occasional treat for yourself for a few months to come, but freezing them means you have to actually defrost them before you indulge, giving you the chance to reconsider your choice.

GET LOTS OF SLEEP:
Getting enough sleep means you will have a stronger ability to fight off those nasty winter bugs, it will make you more patient with your loved ones, it will make you better able to focus at work, and studies have shown that people who get less sleep are more likely to put on weight (oh, those late-night munchies)!

We women always feel like there is never enough time in the day, so throw caution to the wind and head to bed an hour early for a week and see how you feel. The universe will not come crashing to an end and you may even find yourself waking up more refreshed, less groggy, and capable of being more productive during the day.

Most importantly, begin the year as you mean to go on. Do you plan on 12 months of fatigue, sore muscles, and take-out food? Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Forget all the endless articles, commercials, and television shows about diets, resolutions,and food fads. The biggest and most important resolution you can possibly make is to be kind to your body and soul… and in turn they will be kind to you.

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Carolyn Eagle

Carolyn Eagle is a 40-something woman in a house full of men somewhere in downtown Toronto. She gave up her previous career in book publishing to be a stay-at-home mom, bake cookies, and keep a Martha Stewart worthy home. Then, she realized that was completely insane. Now, she bakes when she can, cleans only when it’s completely necessary, and does her best to keep her guys and herself healthy, fit, and happy. Catch up with Carolyn at http ://noshrinkingviola.wordpress.com/