Happy Healthy Holidays! And don't forget...


...And just like that, the New Year is here! We hope this newsletter finds you enjoying the holiday season in whatever way nourishes you and your family.

Here are some tips to remember this holiday season and into the New Year:

Keep the focus on fun, not food. Food brings us together during the holidays - that's true. But there are other ways to celebrate like sledding, decorating the tree and singing Christmas carols. Try to think of things to do with your family that doesn't revolve around food.

Spice it up! Try using spices and herbs to flavor your food instead of heavy, creamy sauces. Not only will you save on calories, but many of these spices and herbs have amazing health benefits. Check out a great list of those here.

Work it Out! Just because it's the holidays doesn't mean you can slack on your workout routine. Take your sister or mom to your favorite spinning class, walk the dogs with the family or volunteer to shovel snow from the driveway!

Indulge in only the MOST special holiday foods. Skip the store bought cookies, but if your mom makes her world famous peppermint ice cream, that's when it may be okay to try just a teeny tiny sample!

Take the time to breathe. Spending so much time in close quarters with our crazy families can take a toll on our stress levels. Take the time (maybe early in the morning when you first wake up) to breathe and reflect on all of the blessings in your life. This will kick your day off on a positive note!

Keep the booze in check. The holidays are a time to celebrate but overindulging in the bubbly can not only lead to hangovers but it can cause us to gain weight, increase our blood sugar and disrupt our precious sleep. It also decreases our judgment and impulse control - before you know it you'll be reaching for that late night piece of pizza. If you do drink over the holidays be sure to match each drink with a glass of water and try to keep it to 2 drinks max.

STAY HYDRATED! Americans are chronically dehydrated. Drink at least 8 glasses of water every day. Water benefits every part of our bodies including hair, skin, hearts and brain. Try keeping a reusable water bottle with you at all times.

As you know, at BB&R Wellness, we talk a lot about conscious living, mindfulness and living in the moment. While the holidays are a joyful time for celebrating with family and friends, they can also open the door for lots of opportunities to discover all kinds of ways to practice "coming back" to the present moment...a reminder that the gift of presence is available all the time...not just during this holiday season. Doro talks about this ability to create "presence" in her most recent article, "The Gift of Presence":

Doro Bush Koch

Doro Bush Koch

The Gift of Presence

By Doro Bush Koch We are in the thick of the holiday season and I don't know about you, but my head is spinning. Questions are bouncing around in my mind like ping pong balls. How am I going to get everything done? What will I ever get my cousin Robin for the holiday? Can we get our holiday cards out before the New Year? And on, and on, and on. We put ourselves on the fast train and in the blink of an eye, the season is over. And all that's left is the need to recover.

Then there are the expectations. After all, it's the happiest time of the year. But is it really? Is it the happiest time of year for the family who has lost a loved one? Or for the mother whose child suffers from depression? Or for the abused, the tormented, the lost and the lonely? The reality is that the holidays can be the most sorrowful time of the year for many.

The real question is how do we navigate the holiday season and find meaning in the midst of it all. Instead of the presents that we choose for our family, friends, and neighbors to show our love, how about showing our love through the gift of presence?

Being in the present means being here right now. We spend most of our time in the future, or in the past, and life literally passes us by. So to be awake in the moment is the gift of presence.

Here are some ways to stay AWAKE, and give the gift of presence during the holidays: Accept what is and go from there. Life is unpredictable and nothing is permanent. Difficult challenges will come into our lives. When we embrace whatever comes, and begin to cultivate acceptance, it will help us cope when our lives are turned upside down. We can practice acceptance in the busy holiday season and find pockets of peace and meaning.

Be Watchful of your thoughts. Take an inventory of what is going on in your mind. Understand that your thoughts are simply thoughts, and they are often negative. You don't need to believe them or react to them. Fill your mind with positive affirmations or beautiful music this holiday season.

Allow time for yourself. Take a few moments to breathe fully and deeply. Stop throughout your busy day to pause and breathe. By noticing our breath, and by reminding ourselves to breathe consciously, we reduce stress and return to the present moment. This practice will help us experience joy, peace and connectedness this holiday season.

Show Kindness in everything you do. In the hustle and bustle of the holiday, rather than get frustrated with lines or inconveniences, make kindness your "go to". Even a smile is an act of kindness. We are choosing the best versions of ourselves when we choose kindness.

Enjoy the company of those you love because life is precious and fleeting. Be with them completely by listening without judgement. Be curious, put yourself in the shoes of others, and express your love and appreciation. By putting your investment of time and energy in loving others, you are giving others the greatest gift you could imagine--the gift of presence.

As health minded individuals, it is always so much fun to "brag" about good things that happen to people when they make the decision to live a healthier lifestyle. Let us introduce you to a very remarkable young man. He is 21 years old and as described by everyone who knows him as "just the best guy ever". Well, this year, he decided to take his health into his own hands . .and has lost 70 pounds this year. YES! 7-0, as in seventy pounds. He did this while in college. Not so easy. Here is his inspirational story. Our own Robert Koch:

Making the Choice To Be Healthy

Robert Koch, 21, Student, University of Georgia

Robert, you have recently made some dramatic changes in your life--can you tell us about that?

Robert: This past summer I realized I wasn't leading a healthy lifestyle and I made it my mission to change that.

I started by working out. Then I began to think about what I put in my body. I then started making healthier food choices.

What kind of specific changes did you make in your diet--for example, what did you eat for breakfast before and what do you eat now?

R: I used to either skip breakfast or get a chicken biscuit from Chick-fil-A. Now I make sure that I'm eating something at the start of every day. My favorite are smoothies with any combination of frozen fruit, yogurt, protein powder, vegetables, flax seeds and nuts. Or I might have eggs with Ezekial toast and almond butter.

Was there anything specifically that inspired you to do this?

R: I hurt my knee playing football in high school and it still bothers me today. Carrying 290 lbs on a hurt knee was putting too much wear and tear on it.

Now that you've made these changes, do you feel differently?

R: Yes! Eating healthy food gives me energy. And my knee feels so much better carrying 70 less pounds.

Do you ever slip and if so, what do you do to get back on track?

R: I slip weekly, but I know it's not the end of the world. I move on to the next meal and try to make better choices. On some occasions it's okay to splurge, but I make sure those meals don't pile up because that's how you can get off course.

Are you a proponent of a specific food plan?

R: NO--food should be enjoyed. Eating shouldn't be restrictive, or you are sure to fail. Seek out foods that taste good and are healthy.

Have you made other lifestyle changes?

R: I work out a lot. After high school I stopped working out. I wasn't all that active and put on a lot of weight. Last summer I picked up working out again and have come to love it. It makes me feel good.

Any advice for someone who would like to lead a healthier lifestyle?

R: Just give it a try. It's hard at first but find foods that are healthy and taste good. They're out there. Know that you will slip up, but if you stick with it, you will feel better, have more energy, maybe even see some positive results.

With Love and Healthy Holiday Wishes,

Doro Bush Koch

Patricia Reilly

Therese Burch

Patrice Brickman

Founding Partners, BB&R Wellness Consulting