The Holidaze: A Balancing Act

I have always felt like an anomaly. I am a devout lover of all things health & fitness, while simultaneously a champion for kicking back and, dare I admit...indulging. The holidays can be the most dangerous time of year for wellness, especially if indulgence to you is just as shiny as the angel on top of your tree. Indulgence can take over, allowing your physical, mental, and emotional state to go absolutely haywire as it becomes more and more difficult to keep up your normal routine. It’s taken me a decade of trial and error, figuring out how to balance the extremes of my love for wellness and fun, to get to the place where I am now. This is the most at peace I have ever been with my choices in both realms during any holiday season in my lifetime, and it actually fell into place quite naturally. When you sit down and have an honest conversation with yourself, and ask what it is that truly brings you joy, makes you feel fulfilled, and gives you that merry-and-bright, wintery glow, the plan creates itself. You just have to honor that truth, and follow it.

The temptation of indulgence exists year-round, but we are completely saturated by it during the holidays. It’s woven into the fabric of our seasonal celebrations. Kate from HR is always going to bring that plate of her Grandma’s famous Christmas cookies to the office. Your best friend is always going to throw that holiday party in December. Peppermint mochas will be all over your TV screen and inevitably dancing in your head. Somehow, many of us resist the temptation of indulgence in our daily lives, but during the holidays, we associate these treats with the warm-and-fuzzies - and what kind of monster says "no" to the warm-and-fuzzies, right?! The sugary family recipes, the hot cocoa on the couch with the kids, and the boozy dinner parties are the foundation of our holiday traditions; they bring us so much joy and happiness. For me, sipping bourbon on the couch in front of my Christmas tree is my favorite holiday pastime, and it’s not going anywhere! You can enjoy these traditions, while maintaining a standard for your body and mind that will ultimately make the season even more enjoyable than ever before.

Decide what you want your holiday season to look like from a health, wellness, and indulgence perspective. Remember that if you want to maintain your current state, and come out of the holidays feeling like the same you that went into them, every action needs to have a reaction. If your vision for the season is to go big, make it to all of the holiday parties, enjoy all of your favorite recipes, and sip bourbon like it’s your job (like yours truly), you’ve got some additional planning to do to balance out your health and energy levels. You might need to give something up from your normal daily life to carve out some extra time for self-care. This season, my husband and I knew we had a ton of travel coming up, which would mean a lot of indulgence, but also a lot of quality time together. We decided to give up our usual, daily hour of morning coffee together, and we replaced it with fresh workout routines. It seemed sad at first, because that coffee date on the couch was my favorite hour of a normal day. But we chose to give up that hour to keep ourselves feeling our best as we moved into the holidays. Because we’ve both been so committed to our personal fitness over the last 8 weeks, we were able to spend an amazing week in Wisconsin with our families, where we could temporarily de-prioritize our workouts and just relax with our loved ones, with zero guilt involved.

That is the push and pull of the holidays. There will be weeks when you can’t get everything done. Your workouts might take a back seat, or you might dip into the cookie jar a few too many times, but if you are working from a strong foundation in your health, you will bounce back faster than your neighbors can inflate that 10-foot tall snowman in their front yard.

When you do make the decision to indulge, know your limits and separate need from novelty. Everyone has a “fill line”...that point where if you go any further, you’re going to bubble over and it’s going to be a mess. We are in the throes of holiday party season, where we want to say “yes” to everyone and everything. Every Saturday feels like a special occasion. Remember that you, and only you, are in charge of your choices. You can go to all of the holiday parties, but you don’t necessarily have to drink ALL of the wine. Are you tired from being your family’s Santa all day and dreaming about a bath and your slippers and snuggling up in your reindeer jammies? Arrive on the early side, and get out of there when you’re ready. Give the party the best of you, whatever that is, and leave on a high note. You should never catch yourself saying, “I felt like I HAD to have a cocktail”, “I felt like I HAD to stick around”, “I felt like I HAD to try the dessert”. It’s a guarantee that your loved ones don’t want you to feel that way. They want you at your best, and your best for an hour is better than having you for four when you’re exhausted and checked out.

All in all, the holidays are chock full of things that make our hearts happy but our bodies feel less than their best. When you want to enjoy things that aren't stellar for your physical health, you NEED to balance them. If it doesn't feel right to give them up, find a way to make them work. If you make the choice to kick back and enjoy your indulgence this holiday season, without adjusting your routine or adding a little extra self-care, then be grounded in your decision. Be honest with yourself about the impact it might have on your happiness. There is nothing wrong with taking a breath and stepping back from the grind, but not at the expense of your sense of self. Commit to aligning with exactly who you as an individual are meant to be this holiday season, from the social, indulgence, and health perspectives. Every year you will learn more about what makes your body, mind, and soul feel best.

Shannon Pike
COO & Executive Brand Curator, Moderna Muse

Shannon enjoying her drink of choice at a recent Moderna Muse event, Fried & Fabulous.

Shannon enjoying her drink of choice at a recent Moderna Muse event, Fried & Fabulous.