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Exercising Values

Happy, Healthy, Kind, & Considerate Kids

Anti-Tips for Holiday Happiness

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There is no lack of lists at the holidays online and in magazines giving you tips for how to avoid weight gain or enjoy time with your loved ones during the holidays. I've written quite a few myself.

To breeze through the holidays happy, fit, and trim you don't need tips as much as you need a strategy for how to make first things first. To do that, you need to determine the why behind what you typically do during the holidays. Let's start with how you will spend your time and with whom you will spend it.

Sort out what gives you pleasure or meaning from those activities that you do out of obligation or habit. Consider others feelings if you were to drop one of those activities. After all, it's not just about you but it's not not about you either. Weigh your needs and expectations against what the consequences of you not doing something would have for others. If grandma doesn't hear from you over the holidays she may be crushed whereas the neighbor doing a holiday open house might not even miss you, if you skip it this year.

Next let's look at how you will take care of yourself during the holidays. You may be dragging a lot of unhealthy habits into the holidays that you don't even enjoy. If you are eating and drinking anything this time of year that does not cross your plate or glass at other times of the year, you may be looking at a special treat that your look forward to and thoroughly enjoy or you might be looking at something that goes hand to mouth without any real pleasure. Think of the colorful candy dish that is filled with cheap chocolates. Scooping and scooping at that may be a habit because your mom set out such a dish when you were kid. But today, you are not eight, your tastebuds are more discerning, and savoring one piece of gourmet dark chocolate might be ever so much more enjoyable. So do that.

Instead of watching every Christmas show that is available, pick a few favorites and intersperse that couch time with walking to a neighbor's with a Christmas present, calling your mom, or be one of the very few to still send a written card to someone. Or go for a run, hit the gym, or stroll around the neighborhood admiring the decorations.The idea is to do and move more while still allowing sometime to enjoy the more sedentary holiday traditions. You could even sneak out for a massage or to get your nails done. Keeping yourself relaxed and happy gives you more energy and happiness to spread around. Being tired and moody after too many hours shopping and fighting crowds does nothing for the people you come home to.

At a party, seek to have the most colorful and crunchy plate in the room. Fill it up with vegetables, fruits, some shrimp or other lean meat, a few nuts, and then leave just a small space for the sweet that is your favorite. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. You are just letting your best self have a say as to what you really want. Then, by all means, have it and enjoy. And then notice what you actually enjoyed and you may find that the healthier choices were actually the ones you are beginning to prefer.What message will this send to your own children about how to enjoy and benefit from the healthy choices.

Like Charle's Dickens, visit your own Christmas past, present and future.

Visit happy memories and seek to recreate those. Disengage from anything from the holidays that you did not enjoy or find beneficial. Look around in the present and see who could use a touch from you whether it is a present, phone call, lunch date, or a card. For the present, begin by thinking of others but don't neglect what you really want or need. Take some time to refresh and to simply enjoy the season. Then think about the future. What do you want your children to remember about this holiday? Do you want them to remember you smiling and laughing and helping others? Do you want them to remember feeling loved and part of an extended family? Do you want them to take with them a concern for those with special needs, financial, health or otherwise? Do today what you want remembered tomorrow.

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About the Author

Pamela Davenport


For decades I have helped countless parents and their children overcome significant obstacles. My unique accomplishments in the fields of child development, health, and fitness have given me an unparalleled perspective and expertise that I would love to share with you.

  • Award-Winning Author and Parenting Coach
  • Mother of six and grandmother of five
  • Studied Juvenile Justice at Stanford University
  • Master’s degree in Social Work
  • Experienced family counselor
  • Support group leader for struggling parents
  • Taught health at the university level
  • Program manager for the personal training programs at two colleges
  • Personal Trainer helping people lose 5lb-100lb+
  • Two-time Ironman Triathlete and competing member of team USA
  •  UMB Lifetime Sportswoman Award 2017