Is This The Least You’ll Weigh All Year?

According to a semi-global study, late October and early November are peak times for  “best” weights for Americans. It’s right afterwards, during holidays, that we tend to grow larger (and we don’t mean taller.)

Tighter Clothes: Post-Holiday Woes

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published its findings from a three-country study. The weight loss-and-gain of Americans, Germans, and Japanese folks were observed. Around this time of year, late fall, Americans weighed in at their lowest compared to the rest of the year.

In Germany and Japan, the results were the same. Thousands of participants were tracked using wireless scales. In all three countries, the participants’ weight rose within 10 days after Christmas Day. The heaviest day for mostly everyone in the study was around New Year’s Day.

Holiday Feasting

The common thread between all three countries is that a major holiday falls in a similar time period. Each of those holidays is celebrated with food—and lots of it. In America, of course, there’s Thanksgiving. In Germany, it’s Christmas, and in Japan, Golden Week.

Although the greatest weight gains were observed through November and December, the study also showed that there was significant weight gain around other major holidays as well.

Some Good News

It isn’t all downhill for our waistlines after the winter festivities. On a positive note, the study showed that up to half of the weight gain was lost pretty quickly after the holidays.

The Other News (…Not so Encouraging)

There’s a reason why gyms do amazing business after the first of the new year. Everyone signs up wanting to shed the extra weight they recently acquired. According to the study, the bummer news is that about half of the weight that was gained in the winter tends to stay on until summer (and sometimes beyond.)

More Self Control Needed?

If you don’t mind (or truly enjoy) being part of this statistical study, then don’t give any of this another thought. Eat, be merry, and worry about it later.

If, however, you really don’t want to gain weight during the holiday season, some serious mindful eating will need to come into play. Food celebrations will be all around you, tempting you. Mashed potatoes, stuffing, pies, rolls, egg nog, the list can and will go on… You will need to make some hard and fast choices.

Will you nibble here and there, so you won’t feel deprived? Or will you eat very healthy, smaller portions most of the time in order to indulge yourself a small bit? Or will you kick up your exercise regimen in order to burn the extra calories?

Clearly, the less you gain, the less you have to lose. Keeping that in mind, don’t stress—just try and make the healthiest decisions and stick by them. Enjoy your comforts and the people in your life. That will feed your soul well.

Ways to Stay Sane this Holiday Season

With holidays such as: Halloween, Thanksgiving, your kid’s birthday, Hannukah, Christmas, and New Year’s on their way, a lot of deep breathing will be in order. Another way to stay sane is to be proactive and prepare ahead.

The Sanity Checklist

Think of holiday preparation as a college course. You got the syllabus, and you know what work you’re in store for. Now instead of cramming and getting all stressed out, do what you can ahead of time. Instead of getting all stressed out, you may find that if you prepare in advance, you may actually relax and enjoy the celebrations.

It’s Never Too Soon To:

1) Preplan your or your kids’ Halloween costumes. Start thinking about it in the summer. You can collect clothing and accessories during the upcoming months. Leaving it for last minute could cost you a lot on a costume and in creativity.

2) Stock up on canned goods. Of course, fresh foods are preferred, but having veggies handy at the last minute helps. You can always toss them in soups too. Also, food drives for the needy are always asking for donations during the holiday season.

3) Get an Oil Change. If you’re planning to go out of town, you don’t want to leave a trip to the garage for last minute. Just check your oil levels before you finally hit the road.

4) Clean out the freezer. Surely there are packages in your freezer that are so full of crusty ice that you can’t even tell what the food once was. Toss them. Make room for the big meats and desserts you’ll need space for.

5) Buy gifts all year long. Take a corner in the closet and collect items you think certain friends and family members will love. Also, buy some generic items for last-minute, gift-giving opportunities. Don’t get caught in a long store line or having to pay extra for rush shipping online.

6) Organize your holiday card earlier in the year. Why rush to toss everyone in a picture? You can use a photo from a summer family vacation. You can create a card from a compilation of favorite photos. Starting the project early will be less stressful, and you might get your cards out in time.

7) Clean the china and polish the silver. Or, stock up on paper plates, bowls, and napkins. Plan to use your everyday silverware or the good stuff—plasticware is just not good for the environment.

8) Buy stamps in bulk now. Why spend time in line at the post office? Order postage online in advance so you’ll have it ready when needed. You can even print shipping labels from several different websites including Amazon, Ebay, and USPS.

9) Make a folder for recipes you find throughout the year. If there’s a recipe for Christmas monkey cookies you want to try, stick it in the holiday folder, so it’s easy to find later on.

10) Figure out where you or your guests will sleep. Organizing hotels in advance will save money, and you don’t have to worry about rooms being all sold out. If you’re staying with Aunt Edna at her place, find out what you’ll need to bring (blankets, pillows, etc.) If others are staying with you, get out that air mattress now and make sure it’s not mildewy or has a leak from a cat claw.

Take It Easy

There are certainly a bunch of other ideas you can come up with if you want to get a head start on the seasonal chaos. Just breathe and smile. It will all work out—even if you leave it for the last minute.

If you want to read about other helpful tips for families and holidays, check out



How to Get “You Time” After the Holiday

Everyone’s gone back home. Or you’re back home. It was just first of the many “big” holidays, and you’re already exhausted. Here are some “healthy” ways to communicate your state of mind.

Spa-free Communication

Not all of us can afford to go to a spa for three nights to wind down from the stress. Sure, we may have had a day or two off from work, but the holidays are a different kind of work. Regardless if they’re fabulous and you’ve anticipated these dates, they still take a toll once they pass.

Calm, quiet time is necessary. You know that book that you want to cuddle up with? It’s never getting opened unless you let everyone know what’s going to happen. How about binge-watching that British series? Instead, you’ll be viewing Zootopia for the fifth time if you don’t speak up.

In your gentlest, friendliest tone, feel free to express to your friends and family that you have some ideas of your own.

Sample Questions and Responses

“Mom, can the soccer team come over for leftovers tomorrow?”

“I’ll be happy to pack a large cooler of food and drinks, and y’all can take it to the park for the afternoon. Bring your key because I’ll be home napping.”


“Can you make pancakes for breakfast?”

“I certainly can. Which day in 2017 would you like?”


“I have nothing clean to wear to the party tonight! Can you do the laundry?”

“Here’s $5. If you run down now, the Goodwill should still be open.”


“Honey, what are making you for dinner tonight?”

wait for it….. “Reservations.”


Alerting and Taking Action

So many people are used to relying on us that we really have to verbalize our needs sometimes. If you’re exhausted from cooking, cleaning, hosting, listening, driving, etc., you just have to let everyone know that you’re not at full steam.

When we become depleted of energy, it causes crankiness, shortness, and many times, miscommunication. Finding clear, kind ways to tell your family and friends what you need is necessary.

Once you’ve given notice, take the “you time!” Again, it doesn’t have to be an exotic vacation or a shopping spree. It could be curling up in bed with a piece of that delicious apple pie. Maybe it’s just going to the park with your dog. Perhaps you just want to sit and stare out the window.

Communicate and then un-plug. Let yourself relax, and e stay away from social media and the telephone. Allow your brain to turn to mush and rest. You deserve it! (Besides, you need to rejuvenate for the next shindig.)


Funny Conversation Starters During the Holidays!

Sure, if you’re with a group of close friends, chances are you’re all like-minded or at least respectful of each other’s viewpoints. But when it comes to family, work-related, or casual-acquaintance gatherings, the rules are different. Try not to be too serious when starting the conversation and have fun, here are some ideas for keeping peace pervasive over the holiday season.

Steer Clear

If you find yourself within a group of folks you don’t know all that well, there are certain topics you should avoid. They are obvious, but a reminder is worthwhile. Rule of thumb, stay away from very personal and controversial subject matters. And, don’t try to be funny when discussing very personal topics. Here are three examples of how not to start a conversation.

1) Politics. Don’t discuss your president, your future leader, or foreign policy. Even if these are subjects in which you love to have a tête-à-tête, the setting has to be appropriate. Otherwise, it’s possible someone might find themselves covered in egg nog.

2) Religion. Feel free to mention that you have to leave because you have a sermon to attend early in the morning. But don’t start spewing feelings about your God, others’ God, or God’s lack of existence.

3) Reproductive and LGBT rights, Genocide, and the Zika Virus. These are extremely important topics that require addressing—but perhaps not at a holiday party (or with people you don’t know well.) The host may frown upon the discomfort or potential raucous.

“Do Not Ask” Questions

Although you may be tempted, find inner-strength to contain asking some of these examples of questions during your conversation:

-Something looks different. Did you lose weight?

-Did you ever get that promotion?

-What do you think about global warming?

-Do you think fracking is a good option?

-What’s your stance on vaccines?

-Has your daughter been baptized?

-How are the finances at the office?


If a topic comes up that you know will ignite conflict, don’t engage. You may feel passionate about the conversation and disagree, but what’s more important? Voicing your feelings amongst people whose minds won’t change, or worse, won’t listen to you respectfully?

Or is it more important to stay calm, keep to yourself and leave without a fight? Try and keep things light and enjoy what your talking about with the people you care for. It’s your call. But if you choose the latter and someone continues to egg you on, simply reply with one word—“Interesting.” This won’t put the person on the defensive, yet you are not agreeing or engaging. It’s a nice way to smile and basically say, “Please, back off.”

“Do” Conversations and Fun Starter Questions

Here are more productive ideas for having a lovely time with casual peers or family at a “festive” gathering. No boats need-a-rockin’. Keep the themes positive and upbeat. Bland is best.

By the way, it will be less tense if you include the younger set into conversations as well. Here are some innocuous ideas for questions to get the “calm and cool” party started:

-Did you see that moon the other night?

-If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?

-Of all the food here, what’s the one thing you would pick if you could only have one food all year?

– If you could have been responsible for the invention of a particular item, what would it be?

-If you could do only one thing all day, what would it be?

-Where’s the most beautiful place you’ve been?

-Where’s the one place you dream most of traveling to?

-If you could travel back or forward in time, what year would you want to check out?

-What’s a holiday that doesn’t exist that you’d like to create?

-If you could host a dinner party for 8 people, anyone, (dead or alive), who would you invite?

-What are some things you would do if you were invisible for one day?

Those are some fun, innocent ways to get a healthy conversation going for anyone of any age. Keeping the peace can be rewarding and allow joy to prevail. Happy holidays!

How Friends Can Enrich Your Holiday Spirit and Health

Sometimes holiday-time isn’t always the cheeriest. Perhaps you’re feeling stressed, lonely, or a bit bah-humbug-ish. Reaching out to friends can lift your spirits and offer the healthy boost you may need.

Who Are Your Friends?

Your friends are those who can help you celebrate the positive, enjoy the mundane, and support you through it all—including the worst of times. Sometimes this person is an old schoolmate, co-worker, neighbor, or even ex-spouse. If your friend happens to be a family member or an in-law, that’s a double bonus!

Why Friends Are Necessary

According to many health experts as well as the Mayo Clinic, friends play a significant role in our overall wellbeing. Adults with a strong support system tend to have a reduced risk of high blood pressure, depression, and obesity. Many studies have shown that those with robust friendships are even likely to live longer than their peers without the crony support.

Friends can help you:
– reduce stress by listening, talking, crying, and laughing together
– boost your self-esteem and confidence
– cope with traumatic events or illness
– choose healthier lifestyle habits (quit smoking, exercise, eat better, cut down on alcohol, etc.)

One study points out that being a role model for health and fitness rubs off on friends. Your friends can influence more positive behavior onto you, and the reciprocal holds true as well.

The Rewards are in the Effort

Maintaining a good friendship requires effort and care. Both people need to make keeping a connection a priority. Sometimes one person slacks off a bit, but that’s where the friendship requires a give-and-take (as do all types of relationships.)

Friendships are an investment

With technology, it’s pretty easy to reach and make a connection these days. Even texting “Hi!” can brighten someone’s day. Receiving a call from a friend can make your day cheerful, too. A brief email, sending a photo, or a dopey emoji works also. Facetime and Skype are great for those of us who are too far away to see each other in person.

Time For Some New Friends?

As with all types of relationships, it happens that people drift away from one another. It doesn’t have to be a negative thing. Sometimes life events (moving, starting families, death, divorce, etc.) create a chasm—and it is what it is.

Being in the market for a new friend is not uncommon. We just need to make ourselves receptive and available. Ways to find new friends can be by:

-taking a class
-attending community events
-taking up a new hobby
-joining an exercise class or group
-joining a faith-based organization
-walking your dog or walking anywhere

Don’t be shy about reaching out. You never know who wants to be your new friend! Exchange emails, make a time to meet for a walk, coffee, or lunch.

Making and maintaining friendships satisfy the soul, and in turn, improve your overall health. Remember to always be kind, trustworthy, and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. You will attract what you offer…

And, always keep in mind, you are never alone. There is always someone else who feels the same and has the same needs. If you’re a good friend, you’ll make and keep good friends. Check out more tips on good health and relationships at



Keeping the Family Fit with Fun Over the Holiday

It’s so common to view holiday feasting as a fantastic event, but one that often results in dreaded weight gain. It doesn’t have to be that way for your family! There are ways to have fun eating and burning calories, and keeping you happy and healthy during and after the holiday festivities.

Before the Blast Off

A great way to charge up everyone’s appetite is to take an early-day walk or run. Check to see if there are any Family Fun Runs in your area. It’s a terrific way for everyone to be together and get some exercise before becoming eating machines.

Another thing that’s beneficial about participating together in a morning activity is that it lends to mutual conversation later in the day. “Wasn’t it funny when Joey ran past the finish line and didn’t know the race was over?”

Movin’ and Groovin’ Before and After

If you’re already an active family, then you’ve probably got a lot of the usual activities on your list. Before (or after) the travel, cooking, or eating, you can take a group bike ride, play some ultimate Frisbee, flag-football, volleyball, or tennis, to name a few sports. These activities require a minimum amount of equipment but pack a large punch of fun.

Getting the body moving is what matters most. Any exercise is beneficial. If you’re in a cold or snowy area, your outdoor playtime might be limited; however, you may have access to other activities like snowshoeing, skiing, and sledding.

Indoors you can indulge in a classic game of Twister, play ping-pong, volleyball with a balloon, practice some yoga, freeze dance, or musical chairs. There really is no end to the fun you can have with your group as long as you keep it playful. It’s not a time for competition; it’s about sharing the joy of movement and amusement.

During Mealtime Be Mindful

Sure, everything is incredibly delicious. Especially that wacky strawberry marshmallow ambrosia. Oh, and that chocolate pecan pie. And we can’t forget those candied yams! It’s definitely not a day to deny yourself. However, you don’t need to engorge in order to enjoy.

In fact, you’ll most definitely feel better afterwards (body and mind) if you ate in moderation. Be mindful of everything you’re putting in your mouth. Normally, you may not intake as much sugar. It’s OK to allow yourself a day off. But, remember that your body will have a reaction to what you put in it.

These types of feasts are a great way to model mindful eating for our children. Take a little of everything if you like it all. But your plate doesn’t need to be piled-up, mile-high. One small scoop of mashed potatoes will be just as satisfying as if you took six. And then go ahead, add a little gravy.

If your family practices healthy eating and exercise as conscious, daily, lifestyle choices, then “the holidays” won’t eat you alive. You will automatically be more mindful of what you eat, how much, and how you’ll work in some movement before or after. And the best part is that you won’t feel denied, but rather treated. Here’s to being thankful for family —and cheat days! Check out Thrive for more family fun tips!


5 Must-Do Holiday Body Tips

As if the onslaught of jingle bells and colorful lights in television commercials wasn’t enough of an indication, here we are.  The holidays are upon us.

Without fail, millions of Americans approach the annual holiday season hoping they won’t gain weight.  And each year, millions of Americans inevitably gain the very weight they hope to avoid.  Trimming the fat never seemed so appropriate.

Parties, gatherings, and family get together feature irresistible food and drink.  And yet, many folks find themselves in the all-too-predictable cycle of dieting when the calendar flips to January.  Well, weight gain doesn’t have to define your holiday season.


As proof, we have five reasonable tips to help govern the coming weeks.  Yes, following the tips will require some discipline.  But, hey, you’re up for the challenge, right?

1. Counter the calories

Let’s face it.  The likelihood that you’ll consume fewer calories during the holidays, is just, well, insane.  So, devise a regimen of exercise to counter the anticipated increase in calories.  Hint, hint: we’ve got some pretty good ideas.

2. Take the stairs

Do you typically take the elevator to your office?  Take the stairs instead.  Now, if you have 80 floors to hike, that may be a bit much, but determine an acceptable number of flights to ascend and then stick to it.

You may have to arrive 5-10 minutes earlier, but your waistline will be glad you did.  No stairs?  Park further away than usual and walk.  Your lunch break can be a great time to stretch your legs and remain active as well.

3. Up your jog game

Put some extra time into those sneakers!  They aren’t just for looks, after all.  Hey, maybe you’ll get a new pair as a gift!  If you already run, be sure to keep doing so.

Maybe add an extra mile or two.  If you aren’t the running type, a light jog or brisk walk will do.  Too cold outside?  Find a treadmill to use at a gym or, better yet, get one of your own.

4. Play like a kid!

Holiday breaks allow children more free time than usual.  With no homework, and friends, cousins, or other relatives around, they wanna play!  So, join the fun.

If there’s snow on the ground – go sledding, build a snowman, or have a snowball fight.  No snow? No problem.  Grab a soccer ball, basketball, or football.  And have a great time.  You’ll be their favorite aunt, uncle, or grandparent in no time.

5. Watch the meaty middle

Sit ups, crunches, and other general ab exercises aren’t all that easy.  But they can make a huge difference!  From the quick and strenuous – search “eight minute abs” on Youtube – to the more moderate – a predetermined number of crunches or half sit-ups each day, keeping your core in check will make your January much more manageable.

Remember, you don’t have to completely avoid holiday party spreads to be guilt-free.  With a plan in place and some determination, future articles with advice on preparing your spring/summer beach body may not even apply to you!


8 Tricks to Keep Your Diet This Holiday Season

The holiday season is here again. This means planning lots of parties and celebrations…and LOTS of eating. It will take some strong willpower to overcome the food temptations and diet challenges of the holiday season.

For the majority of us, it’s not easy to remain on track with our normal healthy diet this time of year. However, there are some tricks and tips that you can use to keep your diet on track this holiday season.

Tasty Trick #1—Mentally Plan for Parties

You can’t simply avoid going to parties during the holiday season, whether it’s for the office, family, or a friend inviting you over to have dinner and catch up. Prepare yourself mentally for the party and everything associated with that, which involves the liquor, food, and eating later than usual.

Before going to the party, be sure to have a healthy and filling meal so you are not as tempted to overindulge. With a full stomach, you are also less likely to drink too much alcohol.

Tasty Trick #2 – Know that Shopping Malls Can Be Diet Disasters

The holidays also usually mean that you will probably find yourself at a crowded mall or shopping center. Your shopping time may last for hours. You may even find yourself shopping during lunchtime or dinnertime, which can make it tempting to head over to the food court.

But you don’t have to buy anything at the food court. Instead, pack some snacks in a bag before you leave for your shopping trip, such as:

  • Low fat pretzels
  • Almonds
  • Died fruit or fresh fruit
  • Low-calorie snack bars
  • Pistachios

Tasty Trick #3 – Use Leftovers Wisely

With the holiday season comes leftovers. What are you going to do with those leftovers? Be creative and use them wisely and healthfully. You could use turkey to make a nutritious vegetable soup, or a turkey spinach salad. If you have leftover ham, use it to make an omelet or low fat ham and cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread.

Tasty Trick #4 – Remember Portion Control

Don’t eat everything on your plate. In fact, choose each item you put onto your plate carefully. Lean proteins should be chosen according to the size of your palm. Remember, even healthy food choices have calories, so make every choice count. If you want to indulge a little, plan that into your portions and calories for the entire day so you can avoid overeating.

Tasty Trick #5 – Eat Before You Go

Don’t arrive at the party and head straight for the buffet table. Instead, grab a bottle of water and mingle with the crowd, making conversation with some of the guests as you wait until mealtime rather than snacking. You will have time to get comfy with the setting, surveying the choices of food on the buffet before you dive in.

Tasty Trick #6 – Trick the Buffet

Whether it’s a buffet dinner or not, you should choose the smallest plate available. Limit your servings to the healthiest choices, and be sure to include more fruits and vegetables. Steer clear of dips and sauces; these are just empty, extra calories.

Tasty Trick #7 – Limit Alcohol

Limit your alcohol intake at holiday celebrations. Alcohol has a lot of empty calories. Plus, if you drink too much alcohol, it is likely that you won’t be in control of what you have to eat. If you feel uncomfortable or weird not having a drink in your hand, sip on some bottled water.

Tasty Trick #8 – Take Your Low Calorie Treats With You

If are invited to a holiday party, take your low calorie desserts with you. This will help you stay away from the fattening and tempting treats that are typical fare of the holiday festivities. Share your low calorie dessert with the guests. Many people will love the healthy alternative.

Don’t let the few weeks of the holiday season ruin a whole year’s worth of hard work and discipline when it comes to your eating habits. It can be tough, but using these tips and tricks can really help you stay on track with your diet during the holidays. Plus – not gaining holiday weight puts you on the path to starting the new year happy and healthy! Enjoy!