Day 1 of 12 in DIAKADI's The 12 Days of Fitmas

According to a Consumer Reports Survey of 'The Top 10 Stressful Things About the Holidays', the stress of (1) crowds, (2) gaining weight, (3) going into debt while gift shopping, and (4) having to see 'certain' relatives is down right ruining our holidays!

Now shouldn't this time of year be all about fun times with friends and family? (That is, the members of your family that you enjoy spending time with.) We should be focusing on closing out and looking back on the year gone by, reminiscing about the good times and successes and looking forward to new adventures and growth in the year to come. The holidays should and can still be this for all of us. How, you ask? I have 2 simple pieces of advice for you as you head into the holiday season: 1- You Gotta Plan, 2- Look Out for #1 (aka You!).

PLAN FOR IT

The leading stressors of crowds, weight gain, and debt can all be managed easily through proper planning. As my wise husband always reminds me, remember the Six P's: Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

[one_third]"As my wise husband always reminds me, remember the Six P's: Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance".[/one_third]

If  CROWDS AND SHOPPING are your main stress, then plan well in advance for what you need to buy. Take advantage of online shopping and delivery. Use creative online gift sites like etsy.com,  giftly.com, sincerely.com/sesame, and quarterly.co to find incredibly unique gifts for even the most difficult folks on your list, all purchased from the uncrowded comfort of your home. I also recommend keeping Amazon Prime as a go to option for just about anything you could ever need to buy, plus you always get FREE shipping.

If  WEIGHT GAIN is raising your holiday blood pressure, then again, it is all about the right planning. Watch for Day 2: Surviving the Holiday Hunger Games, for key advice on enjoying holiday food without popping the button off your pants. Also, if it helps to keep you on track, schedule additional workouts for yourself throughout the weeks leading in to and out of Christmas. Keeping some time for you will be the key to maintaining your sanity and life balance.

Budgeting and a little creativity will be the simple solution to STAYING OUT OF DEBT and coming out on top in the New Year. Honestly, the last thing that most of us need is more stuff. Maybe this is the year when you have 'The Talk' with your family about no longer trading gifts between the adults and focusing more on just enjoying your time together this season. If you would like to show your love with a special gift, take the time to mason jar your favorite hearty winter soup recipe for your co-workers.  Put together a collage of your favorite picture memories using iPhoto to give to family. Take time out for a nice long lunch with a close friend, enjoying the time to laugh and smile with them. These gifts are some of the most valuable presents we have to offer and all are well within a tight budget. They just take a little planning and fore thought.

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In general, DO NOT OVER COMMIT! Limit your weekend holiday events to one or two max. On weekdays, try to avoid any unnecessary evening or late night events in order to stay rested on ‘school nights’ and keep weeknight plans to a minimum. Those 200 cards you send every year, maybe it is time to cut these out. Honestly, I am starting question if the typical Christmas card tradition still still adds to the holiday magic as it once did. If you still love sending out cards to a huge mailing list AND you have the time to do it, then you go! But make them creative, unique and fun to make the work worth while and the experience fun for the recipient. For those of you that the cards have become just another task on the dated traditions list, save the trees, the time and your sanity. You have the power to draw the line and limit your over scheduling, you just have to have the ‘Christmas bells’ to do it. I cannot tell you how incredible it feels to say ‘No’ to over-commitment and ‘Yes’ to breathing room. Give it a try.

Lastly, use your resources, friends, and family to DIVIDE UP TASKS. Having a big group of friends over? Let everyone help with bringing a dish or drink. Share the responsibility, share the fun of the preparation, and bank a little extra free time for yourself.

LOOK OUT FOR #1 (aka You!)

I know, I know. But Billy, the holidays are a time to give to others, to be selfless, to share your love with the world. But my point is that you cannot share yourself with others, when you are a strung out, over-committed, train wreck mess. One of my favorite mentors consistently reminds me, you can only take good care of others when you are taking great care of yourself. I am not saying to be a self-centered dick and screw everyone else, but I do think that a lot of us can become too selfless and lose sight of the balance of taking care of ourselves.

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During this holiday season, take time to SCHEDULE FUN THINGS THAT ARE JUST FOR YOU. Stop and ask yourself, what are my favorite holiday traditions? Not your mother's, but YOUR favorite traditions. Don't have any yet? Then make up some of your own this year. Have you ever made your own wreath? Flora Grubb and Succulence, my two favorite go to garden stores in San Francisco host workshops on weekends during the holidays teaching you how to make those incredible, live succulent wreaths. Check 'em out. Or how about creating a fun, active tradition like a neighborhood walking tour across San Francisco. Every year, Mike and I take one of the quiet days during the holidays to leave our house in Bernal Heights and walk way down to the Marina. We window shop, check out the holiday lights and stop in our favorite coffee shops, watering holes and dining spots along the way. I give you permission to set aside some special events like this just for you.

[one_third]"You have the power to draw the line and limit your over scheduling, you just have to have the 'Christmas bells’ to do it. "[/one_third]

A final warning: DO NOT LET SOCIAL PRESSURES PUT YOUR OWN PERSONAL GOALS AND LIFE ON THE BACK BURNER. If your favorite neighbor is having a martini and fruit cake party, but you are doing your best to avoid alcohol and desserts during the holidays, worrying that it might be a challenging night for you, then kindly pass on the event. I give you permission to do this. Yes, you may have 4 holiday invites in one night and yes, they may all be from 'best' friends that would 'hate you' if you did not show up. Well, I am here to give you permission to only do what you would really enjoy doing this holiday season. If they are truly your 'best' friends, then they will continue to be, even if you don't show your face at their 200 person, “who’s who” holiday party. Trust me. In advance, let them know that you would like to meet them for drinks or lunch as a makeup. This time spent would be far more enjoyable and intimate for the two of you anyway

So there you have it.

Plan all that you can, take good care of yourself and BREATHE.

Remember to protect the FUN during this time of year. Life is way too short to take any of it too seriously.

Remember the goal, have yourself a truly Happy Holidays.

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