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0 Healthy Habits | "Healthy Helpful Holiday Hints" by Kimmi Norvell Moake

"I just LOVE the holiday season! I love the music, the movies, the decorating, the spirit and the parties! For those of you that caught me last weekend, I dressed up as Kimmi the Elf and enjoyed every second of it! Unfortunately, it can also be a stressful time of year. Money can be tight. It can seem like a ginormous task to buy the perfect gift for everyone and it's easily a time to let those good eating habits fall to the wayside to get just one more cookie in your gullet. It might just be the best time of year to let yourself to go H-E double hockey sticks in a hand basket with all the right excuses going down with you only to wake up one day in January and regret your holiday decisions.

Well it doesn't have to be such a difficult task keeping yourself on track. Below you'll find some helpful tips that have gotten me through the past few years when I decided to pick up my hand basket to start walking away from that dreary January wake-up call. I'm going to start with stress because, as we all know, it can lead to a mess o' bad decisions.

It's most important to get good sleep. I know, I know you're saying, "Hey Smarty Pants, how do I turn my thoughts off then?" So glad you asked! Monkey mind is something I constantly battle with. I have a nightly regimen that has trained those monkeys to relax and go back into their cages. I try to shut off any electronic devices at least 45 minutes to an hour before bedtime. My brain waves are easily stimulated and the bright colors of a HD TV really get those monkeys swinging! From there, I take a shower or bath to start my down time. If I'm feeling particularly amped, I'll make a cup of chamomile or lavender tea and head to the bed. I like to read in the evenings so I'll put my legs up against the wall (see below), prop my head up and read for 10 minutes. Then I'll turn around and keep the pages turning for another 15-20 minutes while I drink my tea. One potty break left and I'm ready to lie down! When I'm in bed, I breathe deeply. With each exhale, I let go of the day, of the muscles and most importantly, of the thoughts. When I don't get my whole routine in and my monkeys are still having a party, I count my breaths, counting down from 100. If I find my thoughts wondering and lose count, I start over. Now that my monkeys get the hint, I rarely get to 80 before I'm conked out! Wake up in the middle of the night? The 100 down breathing thing works wonders. My friend Barbara keeps a note pad and pen next to her bed so she can scribble down her midnight ideas and let her mind get back to quiet time.

Stress hits us in all kinds of ways: muscle aches, tummy aches and anxiety and being discombobulated when you're trying to put a smile on your face is the worst! My first line of defense is breathing. (I hope you're not tired of me talking about this but it's SO VERY important and it's a good reminder for me!) My second line is movement. My choice of movement is yoga but anything is better than festering! Take a hot lap when you need a break. Walk it, run it, punch it out (preferably with the air or a punching bag), scream (not at anyone), shake out your whole body. Whatever it takes to calm you down and allow that tension to leave. What makes you let out a breath of relief every time? Put that on your daily or weekly to-do list. It grounds me to put my feet in the ocean and so I venture over to Port A at least once a month to do so.

Now the biggie....stressful eating. My habit is to eat a half or whole apple before heading out to a party. It's a filling, fibrous snack! I've showed up at my mother-in-law's house so many times with apples, she now buys them for me! Another thing I'm not scared to do is eat dessert first. Order dessert and share it with your buddies or eat a cookie before you head over to Aunt Martha's famous crab dip. It will satiate your sugar need and allow you to get on with your socializing. There's typically always a veggie platter at parties too. Skip the ranch dip and load up on veggies. I typically get a plate of veggies and fruit and then my second plate is the goodies. I get filled up on the good stuff and don't eat two plates of junk food.

It's all about honoring where you are, paying attention to your body and letting the thoughts of today melt away. It's OK to say, "No, I couldn't possibly." It's OK let yourself relax and take time for YOU. I may fall a little off my rocker during the holidays but I'm closer to my normal regimen each year. I notice my choices getting better each year and that's a way I can honor myself and my progress. Take a little time to give yourself the gift of a less stressful season. Remember, "The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear." - Buddy the Elf

**Legs up the Wall Pose (Viparati Karani)**

Image obtained from yogaanywhere.net

If you're not comfy getting on the floor, use your headboard as the wall. The main benefit of Viparati Karani is to supply new blood to the legs and enhanced circulation. It's great for tired legs and now sends a message to my brain to relax.
1. Sit with your side body up against the wall with knees tucked in toward chest. On the bed, close to the headboard or wall as you can in a normal way.
2. Lean back to swing the legs up the wall. Make sure your bum is as close to the wall as possible. Also, support your lower back with a folded blanket or flatter pillow if needed.
3. If you're reading, prop your head up so your neck doesn't get sore.
4. To come out, remove neck support and roll out the same way you rolled in.
Kimmi Norvell Moake is the Owner of Coastal Bend Health Foods.

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