Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday: Holiday Cheer

My family is celebrating Christmas this year with a cruise to the Southern Caribbean. I had to write several blogs prior to our departure. Typically, I write them early in the morning, before the rest of the family is awake. My fourteen year-old daughter, usually the second one to wake, asked about the blog to be posted on Christmas Eve. She suggested I write about how bad Christmas cookies are for you. So here goes………………..

Christmas cookies are bad for you. They are refined carbohydrates (sugar) that are calorie dense and devoid of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). They contribute to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. There Cara, I did it. But boy, do they taste good.

As I’m writing this blog, my wife and daughters are baking dozens of Christmas cookies. Peanut butter are my favorite, oatmeal scotchies are second.

From Thanksgiving through the holidays we “loosen the reins a bit”. We eat less healthy food, drink socially at numerous events, and just consume more calories. Our schedule is very hectic, but very fun. It is, after all, the season of celebration.

For the past five years, my wife and I have ridden our bikes from Miami to Key West, 165 miles in two days. We’ve also been training hard for three months, logging 1,500 miles to prepare for the ride. The ride is held early in November, a week or two prior to Thanksgiving. After completing the ride, we really need a break and I think we’ve earned it.

We don’t become sloths. I clean the bikes and hang them in the garage. We replace the long bike rides with spinning classes, weight lifting, swimming and running the beach. I love running barefoot by the water’s edge early in the morning, just about sunrise. Whatever the weather, the run is always beautiful and easy on my knees. Gone is the drive to be ready for an arduous event, we’re just having fun and staying fit.

On January 1, we shift gears. It’s not really a “New Year’s resolution” but a renewed commitment to our bodies. The first step is no alcohol from New Year’s Day until Super Bowl Sunday. (I have to have a nice micro brewed beer to watch the Super Bowl)

This tradition began nineteen years ago in an unexpected way. My wife and I were preparing to go to a New Year’s Eve party when she decided to run a pregnancy test. Of course it was positive. She needed a good excuse for not drinking as it was way too early to announce her pregnancy. So we came up with the idea that we were abstaining as a New Year’s Resolution. I don’t think we fooled everyone, but the concept became a yearly ritual.

Many of our friends have adopted our tradition over the years. Next we clean up the diet and redouble our efforts to exercise. I get the bikes down and we start to ride again. Over the course of 5-6 weeks, I will lose 5-10 pounds and be back at my ideal weight. When I have a beer (or two) at the Super Bowl party, I will really enjoy it, but limit my consumption. I worked too hard to lose those few pounds and don’t want them back again.

It’s what you do 80% of the time that counts. If you try to be perfect with your diet and exercise 100% of the time, you will become very compulsive. Compulsive behavior is extremely unhealthy and really robs the joy from life. This holiday season live a little and that will allow you to work hard next year.

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