When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.
– Bob Hope
The holiday season is only a few weeks away and you’re probably already brimming with anticipation. This year it is going to be great!
You have been making plans for months and everything is almost ready. You can’t wait to see everyone’s faces when they catch a glimpse of how you’ve decorated the house (inside and out), the new table ornaments you’ve bought, the mouth watering menu you’ve cooked up, and the perfect gifts you’ve gotten for everyone.
You tingle with excitement because you have thought of everything.
When Christmas Day comes it all races by in a rush and before you know it you’re sitting there with a cup of eggnog looking the tree and wondering where the magic went.Advertising
Is this all it’s about? The elaborate decorations, the food, the gifts – what about the magic that is advertised everywhere?
Why do you feel let down when the holiday season is all over?
Perhaps it’s time add something new or different to your plans. Below are five options for creating a new and meaningful holiday experience.
1. Assess Your Traditions
Putting up the tree and decorating the house is always done on December 15. Why? It’s tradition. That is the way it was done when I was growing up. I followed the same pattern for a while, then asked my mom, “Why December 15?” She replied, “That was when we got our mid-month pay. I had some extra money then.”
Do you have things related to the holiday season that are considered a tradition? Do you get snippy or irritated when members of your family question the tradition?
Do you know why the tradition began and why you’re continuing it? Perhaps you’re creating unnecessary stress over a tradition that has long lost it’s meaning or it never really had any value.Advertising
Change it up: As a family, create new traditions that represent your family values and current situation. You might be surprised at what people want when you open up the discussion.
2. Let Memories Stay in The Past
You close your eyes and you are a child again reliving the excitement and magic surrounding Christmas. The bright lights, the expectation of Santa, fantasizing about what you will get and the smells of the holiday goodies coming from the kitchen.
Are you trying to recapture a particular feeling or experience from your childhood?
This rarely works. You are attempting to recreate an emotion and a mood that cannot be reproduced. You are not the same as you were then nor is the situation the same.
Change it up: Create an experience that is meaningful and has value for everyone right now. A new memory that your family and friends will cherish long after the season is gone.
3. Let Go Of Others’ Expectations
You are surrounded by family, friends, society and rampant commercialism and each one of these comes with a different expectation for the holiday season.Advertising
They expect you to have a tree with decorations, buy everyone a perfect gift, have a fabulous meal and be happy and joyous!
Many people love all of this, but there are others who feel trapped by all the expectations. If you love it, great! If you don’t, why do you do it?
Change it up: What would be your ideal Christmas? Perhaps minimal decorations, no gifts, a simple meal and a day spent with loved ones. What would it feel like if you did what made you happy rather than feeling bullied by the expectations of others? Try it out and see!
4. Stop Aiming For Perfection
Around the holiday season, you often here people saying, “I want this Christmas to be perfect!”
When I hear this, I want to ask, “Perfect for whom?” Everyone’s idea of perfect is different.
For me, a perfect Christmas would be snuggled up with my beloved in front of a blazing fireplace sipping mulled wine. For another, it would be being surrounded by the boisterous laughter and gaiety of family. Someone else might consider sitting on a beach to be the perfect antidote to the wintry Christmas season we always see on TV.Advertising
Creating perfection is a difficult task, for it can only be seen from your perspective. If you are trying create a perfect holiday for someone else, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
Change it up: Expand your perception of a perfect day. You might rephrase your wishes to, “I want this holiday to be a reflection my love and joy for my family.”
5. Be Fully Present In The Experience
You have spent weeks in preparation for the big day only to feel tried and disappointed when it’s all over. At the end of the day, have you ever thought, “Next year, I’m not doing this”?
Change it up: On Christmas Day, slow down and fully experience each moment. Clear your mind of thought or judgement allow yourself to be immersed in the richness of your senses.
Breathe deeply and let your senses guide you. Listen to the laughter and giggles of the children or to the soft music in the background. Hear the real joy being expressed by a special gift. Smell the rich scents wafting in from the kitchen or perhaps the pine boughs on the mantle. Let you eyes rest on the colorful lights reflecting off the snow or each beautiful face in the room. As you eat, savor each bite of food and pay attention to the different flavors. Shift down to your heart and feel the love and joy in the moment.
At this level of experience you are receiving your deepest and most long-lasting gifts!
May this holiday season be rich with unique experiences and memories that fill you with joy!
Featured photo credit: Close up of Christmas market stall in Basel, Switzerland via shutterstock.com
Last Updated on September 18, 2020
7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks
Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.
Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.
1. Exercise Daily
It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.
If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.
Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.
If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.
2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity
Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.
One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”.
This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.
3. Acknowledge Your Limits
Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.
Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.
Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.
4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy
Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.
The basic nutritional advice includes:
- Eat unprocessed foods
- Eat more veggies
- Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
- Eat whole grains, not refined grains
5. Watch Out for Travel
Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.
This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.
If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go, and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.
6. Start Slow
Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.
If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.
7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner
Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.
My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.
If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.
I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.
Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.
Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.
More Tips on Getting in Shape
- 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)
- 12 Best At Home Workouts (No Equipment Needed)
- 15 Most Effective and Nutritious Healthy Foods to Lose Weight
Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com
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