Stay Sane and Healthy During the Holidays


Every time I roll out my yoga mat, my pooch, Bruno knows it’s time for downward dog. We all have our tricks to stay on track and healthy during this crazy time of year. I asked a few smart and calm friends for some tips. Ava Tyler (my yoga teacher), Jane Scott Ashley (a nutritionist I worked with this summer), and Deborah Mandel (a psychotherapist who would absolutely be MY therapist if she wasn’t my friend). Here’s what they had to say:


Ava (yoga teacher):

How to stay zen during the holiday season? Well, for me, it’s all about balance. I maintain discipline in my life so that things coast along. That said, there are lots and lots of times things simply don’t.

We humans are not a perfect bunch. We’ve got the Ten Commandments, Twelve Steps, Eight Limbs (you get the picture) and they help me look at myself and do the best I can. I like slogans, too: Keep It Simple. How Important Is It? Just Say No. I know that I can only be in so many places and do so many things before resentment sets in. Prioritize!

Now the stuff I really stick to: How can I serve others? I must take care of myself before I can truly be of service. For me that means:

Practice pranayama:  When the Breath wanders, the mind is unsteady, but when the Breath is still, so is the mind still.”   Pranayama is the art of controlling the breath. Learn and practice with your yoga teacher.

Meditation: I am religious about this one: every day!

Be Physical Daily:  whatever you like: yoga, bike, swim, walk.

Naps are nice, too.

I don’t stuff myself with bad feelings or bad food. I spend time with my friends and family. I nurture and nourish, holiday time or any other time. Show someone you love them. Tell someone you love them (all the time). Why cram it all in one month?


Debbie (psychotherapist):

Breathing Through the Holidays

Begin each day with a moment of quiet – read an affirmation book, meditate, say a prayer, do yoga.

Respect your needs; they are as important as everyone else’s.

Eat regular and healthy meals.

Allow feelings to come up; there are no ‘bad’ feelings. Give yourself time to process them.

Take care of your Self; walk, bubble bath, journal.

Have realistic expectations – if Aunt Jo always insults you, ask a friend to be with you for support when you interact with her.

End each day by writing down three things that you are grateful for.


Jane Scott Ashley (nutritionist):

How To Avoid the Holiday Bulge

Should I eat the potatoes?

Yes, but…potatoes are one of the healthiest veggies out there; they get a bad rap because of their high carb content. An average potato has only 100 calories and will fill you up if you top it with low-fat condiments. Sub low-fat cheese and nonfat yogurt for sour cream and butter, eat the peel for extra fiber, opt for baked white or sweet vs. mashed or candied.


Is there anything I can eat without worrying about portion control? 

Yes! To lose weight fast, aim to get most of your calories from fruits and vegetables. Fill your plate (and yourself) with fruits and veggies and you automatically crowd out all the high calorie fats and carbs.  Best way to ingest? Raw and unpeeled for plenty of vitamins and  minerals. (Give them a good scrub to get rid of dirt and pesticide residue). And pop those clementines. Citric acid (in all citrus) is known to assist the digestive system in breaking down fatty food provides your daily requirement of Vitamin C.

How can I avoid overeating?

Drink more water! Drink 12 – 16 ounces of h20 at every meal and tote a bottle when you’re on the go. The simplest and easiest weight loss tip to commit to: drink water and flush those fats from your body.


Do I have to keep exercising even in the winter and when family are in town? 

Yes! Exercise is key to maintaning your weight during the holidays. You’ve heard it before, every little bit helps. Take the stairs. Walk to work. Find things to do with the family (vs. another go at the leftovers) that gets everybody up and moving — a brisk walk, a group yoga class, a spin at the rink.  And then put your energy into it: you want to keep your heart rate up to lose weight.


It’s possible to maintain your weight during the holidays, and even lose a few. Follow these guidelines, eat mindfully and limit treats and alcohol and you’ll face the New Year bulgeless!