A Winter Holiday Letter from Dr. Enos ND, EMT-P

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Written by: Dr. Seth Enos ND, EMT-P

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With the holiday season here the winter chill sets in and it becomes a period for reflection and spending time with family and friends. Childhood memories arise in all of us: school break, the excitement of gifts, and that weird, bald uncle with ear hair and a glass eye. Parties are abound with lots of sugary foods, alcohol, and the occasional ruckus when the aforementioned uncle drops his glass eye in his brother’s beer glass. Sound familiar? Maybe not.

So, what do we do to stay healthy and avoid the extra pounds and loss of sleep during this season that is so well known for holiday cheer, post work-party hangovers, colds, and flu? Adopting some new plans and reworking your current situation can help you avoid the worst of the holiday blues.

  • Boundaries:
    • Set limits for technology use – reducing the time you get pinged, texted, and e-mailed with an audio or vibratory alert from your technological device of choice allows you time to connect in person with those around you or find space to think clearly without a frenetic news feed to constantly disrupt your thoughts.
    • Allocate time for yourself – I’m not talking about a quiet sutra meditation for twenty minutes a day, although if you’re keen to try it then by all means do. I am referring to scheduling time for yourself, whatever that looks like, be it a run, swimming at the pool, reading a book, listening to music, baking, etc. Whatever rejuvenates you, make sure it’s a priority during this season where more is asked of us. Doing so allows you to be more present with others and enjoy the holidays more.
    • Plan – Setting a realistic plan that you can commit to is critical to being successful. Putting out too lofty a goal that cannot be feasibly met can discourage you. That said, it is good to challenge your boundaries, so long as you’re not defining victory by meeting every possible metric.
  • Sleep:
    • While everyone quotes the eight hours of sleep as being the perfect amount of sleep, human sleep patterns vary by individual. Some do best on six and a half, other better at nine hours. The range is usually between seven and nine hours a night. The important factor is whether you feel rested when you wake up. Not feeling rested can indicate poor quality sleep as well as too little or too much sleep.
    • Creating good sleep hygiene can go a long way to improving sleep. This includes creating a quiet, dark, cool (~62-68 degrees F), and uncluttered space to sleep in. Avoid doing activities in your bedroom aside from sleeping, sex, and short interludes to get ready for the day. Also, avoiding blue light (the light emitted by most electronic devices) for at least an hour, better if two hours, before the intended bedtime reduces the stimulating effects on the brain from that light and improves the ability to fall asleep quickly.

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  • Food:
    • Meals are often a sticking point for the holidays. It can be challenging with all the calorie-rich gastric dreams available and the fact that you don’t want to disappoint grandma by turning down her classic holiday meal in favor of a bit of lightly salted cardboard. Instead, load up on the veggies and fruit at any meal while focusing less on the starches, processed foods, and meats. Aim your attention towards whole foods. If you can tell what it is and where it came from, for example if you can identify it as part of a plant, then it’s better than something that came out of a box that has been highly processed and no longer recognizable from its original constituents.
    • Treat yourself, just don’t make it a daily or nightly event. If you have a big party coming up or family gathering where you know eating a whole food diet will be difficult then allow it to be a by-night where you don’t count calories or run screaming from the chocolates in frustration. Pick only one or two of these events in a month and plan ahead for them. The true trick though is developing the self-control to rein it in the following day. Being ready and having a pre-plan in place will cut down on the chances that you will cheat and regret overeating too much.
    • Portion sizes are another place where you can cut calories without forgoing all the flavors you love. Do not rush through meals and eat until you feel stuffed. Take your time instead. Be mindful of what you are putting in your mouth and savor it. Not only will you eat fewer calories and digest your food better but you will also be more likely to be carry those memories forward and look back on them with fondness rather than a memory of having a burning need to find the Pepto-Bismol™.
    • Finally I posit two things:
      • Aim for moderation and even then only moderation in moderation.
      • You can eat as much as you like, so long as you make it yourself from “scratch.”

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  •  Activity:

Some may now ask “well what about exercise?” Personally, not only am I terrible at exercising but I dislike it out of hand. However, I would describe myself as a very active person. Hiking, biking, skiing, snowboarding, white water rafting, and kayaking are popular activities for me that keep me moving and burning calories. Putting a priority on activity becomes more important as the days get shorter and seemingly darker at the same time. Activity not only burns off those extra calories of holiday foods but also reduces the effects of seasonal depression. Additionally, it keeps you strong, boosts your immune system, and more often than not, you feel better afterwards. Be sure to get an activity or a blend of activities that help you in the three main areas of fitness: resistance, stretching, and cardio. Shoot for at least 20-30 minutes of moderate activity a day and work in at least 30 minutes of high activity three days a week.

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We could of course get more specific than what’s above, but since everyone is an individual, and thus unique it’s hard to offer more detailed advice without getting to know you in person and hear some of your story. So stop on by with your questions and concerns and the helpful, friendly team at Gumshoe Health can help you out, answer your questions, or, if nothing else, help you recover from finding that uncle’s glass eye in the candy dish.

So be safe, avoid impaired driving of any sort, and have a great holiday!

– Doc E.snowmanveggie

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