Amy Culver - The Queen of Lean
October 20, 2010    

Start planning for the holidays

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Start planning for the holidays

It's time to start planning for the holidays.  The thing is, if you don't start right now, when things are still slow, it will soon be too late, everything will be crazy and you will not have any time to think, let alone plan.

I don't advocate complete, overnight lifestyle changes.  Small, workable changes, made a little at a time will eventually add up to a major lifestyle overhaul.  Holiday planning is no different.

This year I'm going to list several ideas that you can start incorporating into your holiday plans.  Pick one or two that appeal to you.  Keep this newsletter and add in a little more next year.  And don't forget, I'm ALWAYS open to suggestions from readers.  If you have any planning tips you'd like to share, please email them to me and I will put them in a future newsletter.

1.  Shopping

No, shopping is not directly related to food and exercise, but this time of year, it has a huge effect on it.  Too much time in the malls leaves not enough time to cook healthy meals and get your exercise in. 

One big thing you can do now is to start your gift list.  Make a list of everyone that you have to shop for.  I suggest using a spreadsheet.  Give everyone a column or section of a column.  As you come across ideas, put them on the list.  Be sure to include the price, or an approximation.  Save the document with the year on it, for example: "2010 Christmas Gifts."  When you do this for one year, you don't have to do it again.  After Christmas, re-save the file as 2011, clear out the gift list and you are all set in January to start planning for next year.  An added bonus is that you'll have a record of what you bought for whom over the years to help avoid repeating gifts. 

Plan your shopping time.  If you have the list made up, you can divide your shopping trips by what you need to get.  Many things you'll be able to buy online.  Some things will only be available at a specific store.  For other things, you'll need to go to the mall.  You can then plan your shopping trips out over the season so that it's not all one big rush in the middle of December.  When you do this, you can plan simple meals for those days and buy up some healthy snacks to keep with you to avoid temptation.

2.  Meal Plans

Create some daily meal plans for the busiest part of the season, this generally means the month of December.  During that time, there will be parties, shopping, family obligations, wrapping, decorating, and on and on.  Cook up some larger meals now and stock the freezer with several meals made from the leftovers.  Make a list of meals your family likes that are simple to prepare and clean up.  Keep the items for those meals on hand.  For example, one meal we like is quesadillas and Mexi-rice.  The ingredients are easy to stock:  tortillas and cheese can be kept in the freezer.  You can buy packages of microwave rice, or pre-cooked frozen, add canned tomatoes and Mexican spices to the rice and you have dinner.  Another option is a low-cal frozen dinner with soup.  Both can be bought ahead of time and served up in about 10 minutes.

Start working on your own holiday meal plan.  What are you most looking forward to food-wise?  It might be a good idea to make a list.  Decide what you intend to indulge in and what isn't worth the calories.  Talk it over with others who will be there and get their input.  Ask for their help with sticking to your plan. 

If you are responsible for any family meals, this is the time to start making plans.  Create a guest list, a menu, and a cooking schedule.  The more you do now, the less stress you'll have later that can lead to overeating and such.  Remember, everything you do, you can save and re-use next year.

3.  Create a holiday specific exercise plan

Make a realistic decision regarding how much exercise you can plan for over the holiday months.  The key word is realistic.  Are you going to be traveling?  What kinds of exercise and activities can you plan on during that time?  Can you get 30 minutes of walking in on most days?  If you are used to regular exercise, sticking to that as much as possible will help to minimize stress.  Conversely, moving too far from your usual plan will add stress and anxiety. 

When you know that you won't be able to have dedicated exercise time, add in as much active time as possible.  Stay on your feet and sit less.  Get outside and play.  Chase your kids / nieces / nephews / grandkids around.  Park out at the edge of the parking lot when you are shopping.  It seems terribly far, but it really only adds just a few minutes to your trip.

I know it seems like a lot, but if you incorporate a little bit this year, and a little next year, in just two or three years, you will have created a simple infrastructure that will help you for many years into the future.


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