Mission Possible: Happy Holidays

Surviving the silly season? Our ultimate guide to staying sane, slim and active during the festivities will help you through the rough spots!


Focus on the intangibles
Acclaimed author of the book Money Alchemy (www.moneyalchemy.com), Kiki Theo, retired a multi-millionaire at age 39 and is credited by entrepreneurs worldwide as being the catalyst for their ongoing success. “I think we need more focus on the non-tangibles in life; fun, laughter, rest, love, leaping, sunshine, eating and being merry. I think we need to change our focus from shopping, creating debt and fat, to eat, pray, love (sorry Liz!),” says Theo. “We need to create a Christmas which also focuses on the non-tangible for gifts; giving hugs, time, love and attention. For shopping, I recommend shopping for a laugh, a kind word, a sexy glance and a new cause to champion. For fun I say laugh, write some jokes, play a prank and wear a hat! For pastimes, I say walk, run, jump, make love, press flowers and look for fairies, and, for indulgence; run through the forest wearing nothing but chocolate and have a moonlit stroll while you munch on cheese sandwiches. We need to give others kindness and a bit of our heart. The rest will naturally and easily follow if we approach things in this way, realising that everything is connected.” 

Love yourself
Teaching others about self-esteem and creativity for the last five years, Amy Morgan, is the director of the Institute of Self-Esteem for Africa, www selfesteemfa.co.za. “We place so much pressure on ourselves – especially during the festive season. The discomfort of reaching another year-end with our goals not fully realised can be a painful experience and the temptation to turn to self-medicating with over-indulgence, over-spending and not getting the exercise that we need, can indeed overwhelm us,” says Morgan. “Also, at this time of the year, people compare themselves to one another and get depressed if they do not measure up. Our workshops help to alleviate that, replacing this habit with accurate self-assessment and helping one to realise their true worth. Learning to recognise your personal achievements and know what you want for yourself alleviates feelings of not measuring up. Focus on upping your self-esteem, realising you are enough and you are on your way to surviving the insanity of the season!”

The law of attraction in action
“The Law of Attraction suggests that we ‘attract’ what we most focus on – in thoughts, words and actions,” says motivational speaker and clinical psychologist, Reinette Steyn, coordinator of Selfgrow Life Skills Development workshops, http://www.selfgrow.co.za. “With that in mind, remember to smile! The very act releases stress-relieving chemicals, and brings about feelings of joy, competence, confidence and tolerance.  It also decreases stress and reactivity in other people around you, resulting in a more peaceful and enjoyable time for everyone.” Steyn suggests adopting a group mentality when shopping or in crowded spaces over the festivities. “Rather than saying to yourself; ‘I can’t understand why everyone else is doing their shopping so late!’, rather say; ‘We are all so eager to buy gifts for others – how nice that humanity is still so generous!’ This will cause less stress and cholesterol build-up and attract happy experiences to you. Remember: thoughts become things!” 

A little help from energy medicine
“Crystal Elixirs fall in the category of energy medicine. Like flower essences, it’s mindful-medicine and it’s all about taking responsibility for life and for your actions,” says owner of Healthy Choice, Markus van der Westhuizen, a crystal healing practitioner and teacher and Reiki Master practitioner, who has been working with crystals for healing since 1992. “I have created a comprehensive range of crystal elixirs, which include essences for depression, weight issues, immunity, meditation and addictions, among others – all issues which arise over the festive season – and which can be obtained online at http://www.healthychoice.co.za.” Van der Westhuizen suggests the following stones for staying sane over the holidays; “Amethysts help curb over-indulgence and assist with balancing the body and mind, lepidolite is one of the best stones for frayed nerves, amber stimulates a sluggish digestion, kunzite facilitates stress relief and helenite (aka Gaia Stone) helps to induce compassion, while diffusing anger. Taking a few conscious breaths also helps!” Book an energy healing session this holiday with Healthy Choice and receive a 10% discount on your treatment or your purchase of a crystal elixir. To book, email markus@healthychoice.co.za or call 021-447-7604. 

Get stuck in the garden
“Gardening is a deeply therapeutic act. Modern life has the effect of scattering people – and they often find it difficult to hold it together, especially over the holidays. Spending time in nature and engaging in gardening brings the body back into alignment – and I like to think of it as ‘land-therapy’” says Sam Huckle, owner of Plantwize, http://www.plantwize.co.za, the only organic landscaping company in the Western Cape to focus on permaculture and bio-dynamic farming as a priority. Organic gardening is a method that emphasises the use of composting as opposed to using artificial chemicals on soil and plants –and, Biodynamic farming takes organic farming to the next level. It also places importance on the interrelation between the soil, plants and animals and uses the astronomical sowing and planting calendar to develop the land. Huckle offers workshops on growing edible garden spaces.  “Our workshops are about waking people up to real food. They’re about the health factor of growing your own organically and eating it fresh and preferably raw. This is a very calming, slowing, soothing, energising and enjoyable activity and a great help to keeping you sane over the festive season.”


Plan your meals
“Try your best to plan healthy meals and snacks on those days that you know you will have a festive meal. Don’t starve yourself before the meal, because it will make it more difficult for you to control your eating,” says registered dietician and chairperson of the Gauteng South branch of the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA), Lila Bruk. “Be flexible in that you allow yourself a little of the foods you really want, but keep the portions small, so that you don’t overdo it. Simply put, don’t overindulge to the point that you feel uncomfortably full, bloated and guilty – rather indulge in moderation.” Bruk explains that the key is not to feel deprived, but to still keep your weight in check. “Don’t be afraid to be original this Christmas lunch and celebrate over a low-fat meal, like a fish-braai, or an elaborate salad bar. Another idea is to have a Christmas brunch and serve fresh fruit, eggs and rye toast,” says Bruk. She also recommends eating low-GI foods to stay fuller for longer, so that you are not ravenous by the time of the festive function. “Finally, take advantage of the warmer weather by eating lighter meals, being more active and enjoying the summer fruits,” she says. “By trying to maintain healthy eating habits over this time you can ensure that you start the New Year feeling slim, healthy and energised!”

Eating mindfully
“When you are always on a diet to try and control your weight, the holiday season can be an absolute nightmare!  All the ‘nice food’ is fattening, and it is everywhere you go,” says Bronwen de Klerk, owner of Chi-Netix Health Studio, http://www.chi-netix.co.za, in Cape Town and facilitator of the Middle Weigh Mindful Eating Programme. “The Middle Weigh is not a diet, it is a programme that will help you get in touch with your body, so that you will know the food and its quantities your body requires. The workshops teach you how to recognise your hungry and full signals through fasting, by eating only two meals a day and drinking liquids and eating fruit between if you get too hungry before your second meal.” The four-step programme teaches love for the self, listening to the body, getting in touch with the emotions and strengthening the bond with the body, which translate into making peace with food and eating and living a happier, healthier life.  “It will simply lead you on a journey of self-discovery, so that you can get to the core of your weight and food issues. Since your guidance on eating is coming from within, and not from a diet, you will be able to easily continue with holiday and life events without feeling any restriction,” she says. Chi-Netix Studio is offering readers 10% off the Mindful Eating Programme for the holidays. To book, email bronwen@chi-netix.co.za or call 073-334-7554. 

Fat-zapping Ozone therapy
“Step into an already cosy, warm ozone cabinet and allow your body to be saturated and surrounded with warm steam to open the pores fully. Ozone or O3 is then introduced into the cabinet via medicinal grade oxygen,” says Kym Eagle. owner of O-Zoned Oxygen for Life at Constantia Wellness Centre in Cape Town.  “Ozone is the most powerful and rapid-acting oxidizer man can produce and is able to oxidize all bacteria, moulds, yeast spores, viruses and pathogens. So, whilst you sit relaxed and soothed by soft music, the O3 is at work, penetrating your skin and body tissues, including your cells, blood, lymph and body fat.” According to Eagle, since a majority of the toxins are held in the lymph and fat in the body, this treatment is especially effective in weighty issues. O3 helps to break down the fat into hydrogen and oxygen molecules and releases them easily via the excretory system, through sweat and urine, sparing your liver and kidneys extra work. “In addition, you burn 300 to 500 calories with each session, so not only do you benefit from detoxing your bodily systems, you also get the added benefit of smooth, tight, cellulite free skin,” she says. 


How not to tip the scales
“On average, I estimate that people eat four times as much during the silly – or should I say sully season, compared to the rest of the year. If you are consuming more calories than you are burning, it makes sense that you will pick up weight. You need to be burning more calories than using your arm to lift a glass of wine, beer or that last piece of Christmas cake,” says Wellness Facilitator, Andrew Wyllie, owner of Phoenix Wellness Studio in Cape Town. “Admittedly it is difficult to get to the gym if you are away for the holidays, so use the time to try something new, like surfing, paddle-boating, hiking up a mountain, or riding a bike. Explore your holiday surroundings by being active.” Wyllie suggests trying your best to not to fall into a trap of over-eating drinking too much and being inactive. “You will be doing yourself an injustice to all the hours you spent trying to get your beach body in the first place!” 

Nia: joyful, achievable, energising exercise
Brown belt Nia teacher, Simone Bothma, started doing Nia to get back in touch with her body, after working in the field of counselling and psychology. “Nia is a wonderful to stay fit during the holidays because you sweat without effort – and you sweat with joy! For some, it is the first time they have felt happy while exercising because they are guided by their own body’s sensation having fun and being tuned in, so if your knee says ‘no’ – you hear it and you adapt your movement until the knee says – ‘yes, now that I enjoy!’”  Founded by Debbie and Carlos Rosas in the US, the couple wanted to find something better than the aerobics ‘no pain, no gain’ era, so they set about studying many different modalities and thus gave birth to Nia (www.niasouthafrica.co.za). It offers a combination of jazz, modern, tai chi, tae kwan do and Aiikido, as well as incorporating the healing arts of the Alexander technique, Feldenkreis and yoga, each bringing awareness to the muscles and the bones, so that the body is instructed to move in its own way. The aim is to create balance and harmony in the body and the overall feeling is one of pleasure. “Nia appeals to all ages, shapes, sizes and ability – as it is taught on three levels, depending on your energy levels at the time of the class.” 

Saluting the sun through Yoga
“Yoga helps your body on all levels – body, mind and soul. On a physical level, the poses (asanas) keep you flexible, supple and strong, the breathing helps you to relax the body taking you to the next level of relaxing the mind, helping you to stay calm, centred and present in the moment,” says Deevya Vasson, Hatha yoga instructor at The Centre Yoga Meditation in Cape Town, http://www.thecentre.co.za. “It’s not easy when the festivities and over-indulgence are all around you. It’s best to stay centred, or learn how to practice staying centred, and do whatever works best for you. I prefer to look at my yoga practice as giving back and sending thanks to my body for looking after me so well. This way it is not a torture, but rather, a treat.” Vasson suggests learning the most popular asana sequence in yoga – the sun salutation as a way to kick-start your energy levels everyday of the holidays. “This will keep you toned and fit. Also, keep your yoga mat in a special place where you can see it, so all you have to do is step on it and move!”

Live simply, embrace martial arts
“Often what happens during the holiday season is an extreme in emotion – either overly excited or overly sad – and in martial arts we encourage withholding a fraction of this emotion, so as to conserve energy and maintain a harmonious balance,” says Dr Jeff Lan, 8th dan Chinese martial arts and Qi Gong coach and head instructor of the International Kim Loong Wushu Centre, http://www.kimloong.org, in Cape Town. “Remaining calm and focused this season and not getting too caught up in the moment is emphasised – similarly, when physically active, apply the same concept. Too much physical activity can strain the internal organs, which get strained, thus depleting energy.” According to Dr Lan, martial arts training produces a good physique, sharp mind and defined muscle tone.  The body is generally much stronger and youthful and degenerative diseases are less likely to occur as a result. Martial artists become competent, self-assured and confident.” 

Author: Charlene Yared-West, Longevity Magazine, December 2010/January 2011, p15. 

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