Even if you don’t have your car radio tuned into one of those Lite FM stations that play nothing but Christmas music during this time of year, you’re still likely to hear the carol “Joy to the World” at least a few times during the holiday season. It’s definitely a festive song with a happy message. But next time you hear it, I suggest changing the lyrics a little in your head. Instead of “Joy to the world,” think “Joy to yourself.”
Now, I realize this might seem like a selfish take on things. But when you find (and declare) joy within yourself, you’ll then actually be bringing joy to the world.
I don’t have to remind you that there seem to be so many challenges going on right now. Whether getting your news from the internet, from television or from a newspaper (whatever that is), we are all bombarded with reasons to not find any joy in the world — much less within ourselves. We then often use these happenings as reasons to live life without any joy. This kind of attitude can adversely affect our lives in so many ways — whether by having a shorter fuse with people we care about, cheating on our diets, slacking off when it comes to our to-do list or simply keeping the faith that life is innately good and there are real miracles happening around us (even despite some of the recent disturbing — and tragic — headlines). These are all reasons why now (today — this very moment) is an important time to declare ourselves vehicles of joy and then use that joy to help light up everyone else’s lives.
Finding joy within ourselves (and being determined to do so no matter what the scale says we weigh, how our jeans fit, what’s going on around us or what’s happening in the world) really can help to make the world a better place. We can’t necessarily change other people around us or other people we read about. But we can lead by example.
One of my favorite motivational speakers, Byron Katie, often writes and speaks about “Saving yourself first.” In other words, if you’re not okay, how can anyone you care about be made okay by you? She likens this to being on an airplane, when the flight attendants are giving their safety speech. They remind us that should the oxygen masks drop down from above, we should put one on ourselves before helping a child or someone else in need put on theirs. In other words, if we don’t get the oxygen into our system, how can we help anyone else if we pass out due to lack of oxygen? Make sense? We really do have to save ourselves (and ensure our own lives are joyful) before we can effect change in anyone else — much less the world around us.
Declaring joy within ourselves doesn’t necessarily mean walking around wearing rose-colored glasses, oblvious to what’s going on around us or in the world. But it can mean looking for the good in every situation, counting our blessings and embracing an attitude of gratitude. Only then can we approach life (and any of its challenges) with an open heart. By strengthening our “joy muscle,” we can be better in any situation we’re facing. Whether one involving a high stakes challenge or even when seeing the scale go up a couple pounds (which, for many of us, is a high stakes challenge in itself).
So next time you hear the lyrics to “Joy to the world,” please remember that you are the world. You reflect the world. You create your world. And, most importantly, you affect your world.
By finding as much good (and joy) as we can in the everyday, our attitudes will start to shift, our goals will start to fall into place (not to mention be met) and we will finally begin to be the change in the world that we all want to see.
This holiday season, I wish you days, weeks, months and years that are all full of joy. The very joy that you — and we all — deserve.
Looking for a way to get more from giving this year?
This is one of my favorite ways to help the homeless or others in need during the holiday season — especially because you know that your gift or contribution will be used for food and drink. After all, it can be weird to hand over cash to a total stranger. No matter how ‘in need’ they seem, you’re never quite sure how they might use the money. So instead, why not try something I’ve been doing for years: pick up a couple of $5.00 Gift Cards from local coffee or snack shops (like Starbucks, etc.) and keep them handy for when someone on the street asks you for a handout.
By giving them the gift card, you’re giving them a gift of a warm drink or even a small meal or snack. This way you know your gift is truly being used to make someone in needs’ season a little more comfortable. And even though Starbucks gift cards are pictured here, I’m not saying it has to be Starbucks. (In other words, this is not a paid endorsement — LOL!) However, I do usually buy Starbucks gift cards for this purpose of holiday giving to the less fortunate, because there are lots of Starbucks around and, therefore, it’s easy for people to use the gift cards there without much travel.
If you have similar or different giving ideas for those in need, share them here. Together we can spread more JOY to the world! (Fa la la la la!)
Okay… Does he (meaning Santa) really know when we’ve been eating?
Whether he does or doesn’t, nothing fills us with holiday dread the way an announcement that ‘There are only a certain number of shopping days until Christmas’ does. Yet, while most folks worry about finding enough time to make their list and check it twice, those of us with a dieter’s mentality fear that the visions of sugarplumbs might lead to the kind of overindulgence that could result in our waistlines (as opposed to the Grinch’s heart) ‘growing three sizes that day.’
But fear not, Little Elves! The holidays do not have to be a recipe for disaster when it comes to staying healthy, keeping fit and looking divine all the way through new year’s eve and beyond. In fact, if you follow these simple tips (which I’ve been asked to share again) as a general rule throughout the next several weeks, you’ll be giving yourself a gift that keeps on giving.
Curb hunger before you dash out the door
Whether attending a holiday party, a special dinner or even a cookie exchange, have a snack before you go. I’m not saying not to eat at the event. But I am saying to arrive without feeling starved so that you’re not tempted to make like a Thanksgiving Turkey and stuff yourself. Healthy pre-event snacks can include 1/4 of a cup of raw cashews or almonds, a piece of fruit or even a few slices of lowfat cheese. Munch on those just before an event and you’ll arrive with socializing on your mind instead of filling up on the wrong foods.
Indulge like a supermodel would
Successfully navigating holiday eating doesn’t mean giving into avoidance or denying yourself your true desires. It means indulging in a healthy and sane fashion. Want it? Taste it. Enjoy it. But stop there. You don’t have to have more than one cookie, more than a few chips or more than one helping of each dish during dinner. Pretend you’re being followed by TMZ cameras (and why shouldn’t you be?) and that you’re showing the world that you can eat anything (in proper portions) and look and feel fabulous at the same time. And by not denying yourself, you’ll be less tempted to cheat when you get home from an event or outing.
Eat, drink and be wary
Don’t forget that those holiday cocktails can be loaded with more calories than the snackaroos. A good general rule for women is to limit themselves to one alcohol drink a day. Men can usually go for two drinks, depending on their individual weight. But drink sensibly — not just because you don’t want to be the one at the party wearing the lampshade, but because you don’t want to be the one in January wearing a moo-moo. (For a holiday cocktail calorie count, click here.)
Home, sweets, home
If you’re someone who’s more tempted to overindulge at home, when in private, then don’t feel like you have to do any holiday baking. Instead, stop by your local store (preferably one like Whole Foods, which is known for using healthier and more natural ingredients) and pick up any baked goods you want to give as a gift. And do so when on the way to an event. This way you not only don’t have to have the baked goods in your home tempting you, but you don’t have to deal with seeing your cabinets stocked with the tempting ingredients (bag o’ chocolate chips be gone!).
Make time to exercise
There are no excuses when it comes to moving your body. It must be done — even if you are running all over town like a renegade reindeer. The trick is to actually do the running – or walking at the very least. If you’re spending an afternoon at the mall, make a few more rounds than you have to, take stairs instead of escalators and park far away (which you’ll probably have to do anyway) in order to enjoy the lengthy walk to and from the mall entrance. And when you can, get your butt to the gym. Or, if you’re truly pressed for time, around the block. Even when incorporating the tips above, you’re likely to still be consuming more calories than you normally would over the next several weeks. So walk like you mean it (suck in that tummy and pump those arms). For 9 ways to exercise at the mall, click here.
Become a track star
By track, I mean tracking! In other words, make sure you keep a food diary during the holidays. Write down everything you consume — even the handful of raw cashews recommended above. Studies show that dieters who keep a food diary are not only more aware of what they’re eating, they’re also more likely to take off and keep off the excess pounds. So when in doubt, write it out. For a handy food diary you can print out and use anytime, click here.
Last but not least, enjoy yourself
While the season at hand obviously introduces some added stress into all of our lives, that doesn’t mean we should make like Ebenezer Scrooge. So take a (mental) load off and be gentle with yourself. We’re often our own worst enemies when it comes to critiquing ourselves. The fact is, even for all the great reasons we have for losing weight, we are good enough and hot enough right in this very moment (you’re being followed by TMZ cameras after all, remember?). So add a little of your own joy to the world — and to yourself – while living through and hopefully enjoying the season at hand.
Photo Source: LoveToKnow.com
How full of gratitude were you last week in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday?
As dieters, we often get caught up in what we don’t have (a certain waist size, skinny jeans, self-acceptance – you name it). This is why this past Thanksgiving holiday can be a good reminder to be thankful for what we do have.
These days more and more researchers are finding that “Thank You Therapy” (reminding ourselves of reasons to be grateful) can help increase our happiness quotient, our self esteem and out overall outlook on life.
It doesn’t take a self-help guru to realize that this kind of changed attitude will attract a lot more reasons to be thankful — not to mention likely bring more positive results to our weight loss and overall health efforts. Therefore, why not take a cue from this season of gratitude and begin a Thank You Journal?
Any blank notebook or pad of paper will do. Once a day, list 5 reasons you have to be happy. They can be small. They can be big. But list 5, every day (many people do this at night, just before bed).
I often make entries in my gratitude journal in the morning – after my morning workout, but before I begin my workday. Sometimes I’ll doodle in the journal. Sometimes I’ll write down an inspirational quote I don’t want to forget. And other times I’ll makes lists of reasons to be grateful. For myself, doing this in the morning certainly has a positive effect on the rest of my day – not to mention on my diet and healthy eating efforts. Try it yourself, every day for a month, and see how it affects your “attitude of gratitude” – and, perhaps, even your physical health.
Here’s more information that will make starting a gratitude journal easy:
For a quick primer on keeping a gratitude journal: Click Here
For 5 ways to amp up your attitude of gratitude: Click Here
To learn about more ways that gratitude affects your overall health: Click Here
By the way, I would love for you to add comments to this blog post, letting me know some of things you’re most grateful for this holiday season. And while we’re on the topic, please know I’m sincerely grateful to all of you for helping to inspire me – and this blog – on a daily basis. Even though Turkey Day is behind us, I could still just gobble-gobble you up! (Sorry – couldn’t resist!)