25 Things to Put on Your Christmas Bucket List

For most of us, the holiday season is a busy time of year, and with so many activities and traditions that take place during “the most wonderful time of the year,” it’s hard to keep track of what you’ve done and what you’d like to do. 

This Christmas, you can make new memories and create new traditions (or revive some old ones) with these 25 activities for your Christmas bucket list.

  1. Go to a Tree Lighting Ceremony

Many towns hold a tree lighting ceremony during Christmastime, where citizens gather in (usually) the town square and kick off the holiday season under the dazzling lights of a giant Christmas tree. Music, hot cocoa, and other festive activities usually round out the festivities.

2. See the Nutcracker Ballet

The classic ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky has stood the test of time for a reason: it’s charming, magical, and the music is incredible. Nearly every city in the U.S. puts on a production around the holidays, and if the professional ballet sells out too fast, there is usually an adorable youth ballet company that you can go see instead. 

3. Make Hot Cocoa (from Scratch!)

On a cold December night, there’s nothing like sitting by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa. As accessible as packaged mixes are, you haven’t had the full experience until you’ve made hot cocoa from scratch. Not only can you control how sweet or how chocolatey it is, but it’s amazingly simple to make! 

[Link to a recipe of choice?]

4. Give Back to the Community

The holiday season is a great time of giving. There are numerous ways to give back to the community, including food drives, toy drives, soup kitchens, and charitable donations. Use this website to find a cause that speaks to you and make someone’s holiday season a little brighter. You’ll be glad you did.

5. Go Ice Skating

There’s nothing that says wintertime quite like ice skating, and it can really be an enchanting time. Check out your local outdoor ice skating rink (admission is generally pretty reasonable), as many places open seasonally.

6. Buy a Real Christmas Tree

If you’re the type who prefers a nice, fake Christmas tree, then it might be fun to switch it up one year and buy a real tree just for the experience. Sure, pine needles will be everywhere, but your house will smell like Christmas.

7. Make Homemade Ornaments

This is a great activity to do with your kids using whatever craft supplies you have on hand. Or, check out Pinterest for a surplus of different diy ideas. It’s not only a fun, family-oriented holiday activity, but the ornaments you and your kids make will be way more special than the ones you buy from the store. 

8. Build a Gingerbread House

Not only is this fun for the kids, but it’s delicious and festive, too. There are plenty of ways to make your gingerbread house from scratch using templates, but if that’s not your speed, then you can pick up a kit from your local grocery or craft store and the experience will be just as memorable. 

9. Have a Holiday Movie Marathon

So many great holiday movies, so little time! You may not be able to watch every single one on your list, but why not knock out three or four at a time with a holiday movie marathon? Make some popcorn and hot cocoa and you’ve got yourself a party!

10. Make and/or Wear an Ugly Sweater

Well, why not? Everyone does it, after all! If you’re not too keen on making an ugly sweater, visit your local thrift store and sift through the sweater section. You never know what gems you can find! To add to the fun, you can even have a family photo shoot where you all don your beautiful, festive attire. 

11. Write a Letter to a Soldier

Show a soldier who can’t be home for the holidays that their sacrifice is appreciated with this small act of kindness. Visit the Red Cross website to find out how. 

12. Go Sledding

Nothing says “winter wonderland” like going sledding during the holidays! Once snow hits the ground, suit up and find your favorite sledding hill! If you live in a region that doesn’t get snow… well, enjoy that beach then. Secretly we’re all jealous. 

13. Drive Around and Look at Christmas Lights

When your neighbors spend so much time and money putting up Christmas lights, it only seems fitting that someone admires them, right? The kids will love driving around and seeing all the beautiful light displays and decorations. 

14. Roast Chestnuts

It doesn’t have to be over an open fire, but this is a unique and fun way to celebrate the holiday season and bring a beloved song to life. They’re also quite delicious. [Possible link: Try this recipe for an easy, pan-roasted version or something like that]

15. Go Caroling

Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it. You might be surprised how fun it is to go out with a group and sing Christmas songs–with the exception of any Scrooges, you’re likely to put smiles on your neighbors’ faces. 

16. A Random Act of Kindness

Though this isn’t just for the holiday season, you can’t go wrong with a random act of kindness, whether it’s feeding someone’s meter, paying for someone’s coffee, or just giving a compliment. Making someone’s day is priceless. 

17. Secret Santa

Everyone’s heard of Secret Santa: you draw names out of a hat and secretly deliver that person gift (or gifts). If you have a big family or a close-knit group of friends, this is a great way to add suspense and drama to any gift exchange.

18. Go to a Local Christmas Festival

Many towns have Christmas or holiday-themed festivals and parades, which can be a real treat for the whole family! Research your city’s holiday activities and make some new memories!

19. Make a Wreath

With just a few supplies from the local craft store, you can create a beautiful and festive wreath that captures the aesthetic of the holiday season. 

20. Have a Game Night

Movies are fun, but when was the last time you and your family had a game night? Whether your jam is Candyland or Monopoly, get that popcorn and hot cocoa going, because it’s time to have some fun!

21. Hit the Slopes

Another fun wintertime activity is to visit your local ski slopes and have some snowy, outdoor adventures. Again, the availability of this may depend on what region you’re from, but if you swap skiing for surfing, we’ll be none the wiser. 

22. See A Christmas Carol 

There are many Christmas-themed productions that go on during the season, among them, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Check out your local theatre companies for their seasonal repertoire–you may be surprised what’s been adapted for the stage. 

23. Bake Cookies

Sure, you can bake cookies any time of year, but the holidays were made for baked goods, and when else can you make gingerbread men or peppermint bark? It’s also a great gift idea for friends and neighbors. Who doesn’t love cookies?

24. Make Paper Snowflakes

This classic winter craft is both an easy and whimsical way to put scissors to paper and make something beautiful. It’s great for kids (provided they can handle scissors) and adults alike! [Link to instructions?]

25. Break Tradition

Traditions are great and all, but why not break some rules once and awhile? Why not open some presents early, have pizza for Christmas dinner, or diy instead of buy? There’s a reason we hold onto traditions, but if you’ve always wanted to try something new, then why not do it? The holidays, above everything else, should be fun. And sometimes, being unconventional is fun. 

7 Useful Ways to Jumpstart Your New Year’s Weight Loss

Who here hasn’t put “lose weight” down as one of their New Year’s Resolutions?

Okay, maybe some people haven’t, but a lot of us have. And usually, it’s the same old story: you join a gym, eat healthy for a month, and then you find yourself slipping back into your old ways.

Unless you’re really committed, most of us won’t make it past February.

Dun, dun, dun…

Fortunately, there are a few ways to jumpstart your New Year’s weight loss that are small but mighty.

Most of these can even be done while you’re still in the midst of the holiday season (without sacrificing too much of the joy of eating).

Once January hits, you’ll already be primed and ready to reach your weight loss goals. 💯💯💯

Just remember: take it one day at a time, and don’t give up! 👟👟

These 7 tips will help you build habits that promote sustainable weight loss that lasts more than a month. After all, that’s the kind you want!

Set Goals, Big and Small

It’s really hard to be motivated to do much of anything if you don’t set some goals.

However, if you only set one big goal for yourself, it may seem a little daunting at first.

Like super scary- and unattainable.

It may feel like you can never reach it!

The solution here is to break it up into smaller milestones that can be reached more easily.

This can be as simple as walking a mile everyday or cutting out soda. Whatever seems attainable at the time. And then, once you achieve it, the confidence that comes with reaching that goal will help motivate you to work towards the next one.

Before you know it, you’ll be taking steps toward that big goal that once seemed so insurmountable.

Just remember: a goal without a plan of action is nothing but a daydream.

It’s one thing to write something down and quite another to act on it! (Trust me, I’ve been there!) So once you set your goals, make a plan for how you’re going to achieve them to help you stay on track. 

You can keep track in a habit journal, in an app on your phone, or even on a dry erase board.

It doesnt matter how you keep track- just find what works for you so you can stay motivated and accomplish those goals!

2.Track Your Eating Habits

Many people don’t think about what they’re eating or how much, and that can be disastrous if you’re working towards a weight loss goal. Whether you go by calories, carbs, or whatever macros you’re trying to control, it helps to track what you’re eating. This can be done a variety of ways. You could always keep a food journal and write it down manually or make a note in your phone. There are also dozens of apps for calorie-counting and food tracking, such as MyFitnessPal and MyPlate. Most of them track exercise and have other fitness-related features, too. Whatever works for you, it definitely helps to keep a record of your diet so you know what and how much you’ve eaten. 

3.
Drink Plenty of Water 

Diet and exercise are usually the main focuses of weight loss regimens, but if there’s one thing that helps everything overall, it’s drinking enough water. Not only does it keep you hydrated during exercise, it’s essential in helping your body flush out waste and it promotes weight loss by replacing soda and other high-calorie beverages. Drinking a glass of water before each meal can help you feel more full and prevent you from overeating during the food-heavy holiday season and beyond. 

4.
Protein and Fiber: You Need Them

 A successful weight loss regimen often involves limiting your carbs, sugars, and fats. (Though it’s important not to deprive yourself completely of any of those things, as you body does need some complex carbs, natural sugars, and healthy fats.) However, the question becomes: what do you replace them with? The answer is to make sure that you’re getting enough protein and fiber. Whether it’s lean meat or plant protein, ancient grains or fibrous vegetables, protein and fiber will help keep you full on less calories and provide long-lasting energy that digests easily. 

5.
how bout them zzzz’s

Not only is the holiday season stressful, but so is real life.

Face it, you’ve got way too many things to do and not enough time to do them.

Even the agnostics will yell ‘AMEN’ to that! 👏👏👏

Between family events, work parties, shopping, cooking, and hosting, it’s easy to miss out on one of the most important elements of any healthy lifestyle: getting enough sleep.

Lack of sleep leads to heightened levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which causes your body to hold onto fat.

NOT SLEEPING IS MAKING YOU FAT

The amount of sleep a person needs varies depending on their makeup, but in general, most adults need between 7 and 9 hours a night.

If that’s not available, then try taking a power nap in the afternoon to keep your energy levels up. Whatever you do, don’t let your sleeping schedule fall by the wayside.

Set some timers on your phone and get a night time routine in place.

It’s hard work (so hard! must do all the things and binge watch netflix till 3 am) but it’s worth it if you can shed the extra weight you’ve been hanging onto.

Control Your Portion Sizes 

People.

If you have a glass of water and your still hungry after eating- then it’s cool to grab more- but otherwise… lay off the seconds.

It’s easy to lose track of how much you’re eating during the holiday season, especially when you’re going to parties and loading up your plate buffet-style.

Why do we always do that?

there’s a table of food, so we either

A. don’t eat

or

b. eat (and drink!) wayyyy too much 🍹

Both of those are HORRIBLE for weight loss. Your body needs even amounts of healthy food.

To keep yourself on track now and after New Year’s, focus on your portion sizes.

One trick is to use a smaller plate to trick your eyes into thinking you’re eating more than you are, but if that’s not available, then just give yourself a cut-off in terms of servings.

Maybe you fill up your plate once but don’t go back for seconds, or maybe you divide your plate into sections and fill it half with veggies.

Folks, read what you’re eating.

If you can, check the packaging on foods and follow their serving size suggestions to prevent yourself from eating too much.

Overeating during the holidays is one of the primary causes of end-of-the-year weight gain, so if you nip this one in the bud, you’ll already be in good shape come New Year’s. 

Say NO to the Holiday 15! 🙅🙅🙅🙅

7. Avoid the Lose Weight Quick Schemes

You wanna know the real reason I ditched TV?

Ok, since you asked…

I HATE infomercials.

really. they are so cheesy and does it even work?

But when your desperate, and those six pack abs are staring you in the face- you start to think that this pill, meal plan, workout equipment whatever, is going to help you reach your ideal body weight.

I get it. It’s hard to stay motivated, and when it looks like it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

They are preying on people, staying up late, feeling bad about themselves to buy this product.

It’s the same thing that you find in stores now.

After the holiday season, it’s tempting to go for those crazy crash diets that claim to make you lose weight fast, whether it’s a pill, a powder, or a juice cleanse.

They may actually help you lose weight, but chances are that it won’t be long-lasting.

After the 6, 8, or 12-week period ends, you’re less likely to have developed healthy lifestyle habits and more likely to fall back into your old ways, especially if the crash diet involves a lot of calorie restrictions or deprivation.

Please, save yourself the sadness and headache. 2020 is your year to loose some weight!

In order to avoid all that, skip the crash diets and make gradual lifestyle changes that can be maintained for longer than a few weeks.

Conclusion

It may just be little changes at first, but by building habits instead of suffering through diets, you’ll achieve more effective weight loss and a healthier lifestyle overall. 

YOU CAN DO IT!!

7 ways to kick anxiety to the curb

Anxiety is a pain in the rear, and unfortunately, anxiety disorders are extremely common.

If you wonder if you have anxiety- you probably do.

Around 40 million Americans are estimated to have some kind of anxiety disorder. 

It totally sucks…

Seriously.

Whether or not you have received a diagnosis, almost everyone deals with anxiety at some point in their lives, and some people are naturally more prone to it than others. 

Though none of these tips are intended to replace professional help, here are some practical techniques that can help you kick anxiety to the curb and relieve its undesirable effects.

Just Breathe

It may seem like the simplest one, or the one you hear all the time, but there’s a reason for it: breathing is one of the most effective physiological ways to regulate anxiety. 

ok, most anxiety.

If you hear a strange noise it’s always better to call 911 or deal with it yourself with a home defense option.

Doing yoga won’t make the boogey man go away.

But for all the other stuff, like fear about public speaking, or dealing with relationship issues- deep long breaths are a must!

When you’re anxious, your sympathetic nervous system switches into “fight-or-flight” mode and starts releasing stress hormones. The symptoms are palpable: quickened heart rate, shortened breathing, and constricted blood vessels.

It’s difficult to feel less anxious when your body is physically manifesting stress, and since mind and body are connected, one of the best ways to combat the body’s fight-or-flight response is through deep, controlled breathing.

(exercise is good here too- because it forces you to use better breathing techniques!)

There are a variety of different “breathing techniques,” but a good rule of thumb that doesn’t take much forethought is to take deep, even breaths in and out, inhaling as deep as you can and exhaling as slow as you can.

This will help bring your heart rate down and induce a calmer, more controlled state of mind.  

Your body will thank you!

Bring Yourself Back to the Present

When we’re anxious, our minds race ahead, thinking about the future and speculating about things that may not even be likely to happen. Anxiety is future-focused, and worrying about the future doesn’t help you control it.

In contrast, the one thing you can control is how you feel in the present moment, the here and now.

When you feel anxious or stressed, an important key is to bring yourself back to the present–a technique often referred to as “mindfulness”–and focus on where you are and what you’re doing right here, right now.

Here’s a trick-

Find 5 objects that have pointed ends.

or 10 objects that are red.

Count the ceiling tiles or the floor tiles.

Then you can start to focus on being in the present.

In doing so, it’s also important that you acknowledge the positive, asking yourself questions like: Am I okay? Am I healthy? Am I safe?

Really take a second to evaluate your status.

Often, anxiety causes us to forget that in the moment, everything is okay. If things are not okay, then working through them in the present is still better than letting your mind assume the worst will happen. 

By focusing on the here and now, you can tackle problems one at a time as they occur instead of worrying about unknowable outcomes. 

Be Honest with Yourself

Damn, if this isn’t one of the hardest ones to do!

You know what happens- most times you’ve lied yourself into thinking your alright.

That your boss yelling at you is ok.

That not having enough money to pay the bills is just normal.

That you have to suffer through life.

but you know what all of those are?

LIES.

lies you tell yourself everyday that you put up with them.

A lot of people handle anxiety by trying to deny that they have it, thinking that if they just ignore the problem or the feeling, that it will go away.

This is misleading and it rarely works, even if the person does succeed in distracting themselves. If the problem goes unchecked or unacknowledged, then it is not likely to go away.

An important part of dealing with anxiety is to be honest with yourself if you have it, recognizing that it doesn’t make you weak or unfit–it’s the brain’s natural response to environmental stressors coupled with one’s mental patterns, and it can be helped. 

Once you have identified the problem instead of ignoring it, you can take the necessary steps towards fixing it or alleviating it.

Most importantly, however, is not to be too hard on yourself for it.  

Sometimes we don’t realize we are lying to ourselves. Sometimes we need someone to shake us out of our comfort zone.

Be honest with yourself about what you’re going through and what you need to do to help yourself. Everyone’s different in terms of what they need–some need to talk it out, others need to be alone–but everyone can benefit from self-reflection.

Dedicate Time to Think 

Anxiety torments people by happening around the clock or at the worst possible times.

Laying in bed, driving the car, in a meeting at work, in line to pick up the kids.

Anxiety can strike whenever and wherever- especially when you dont take any time for yourself.

You may not even know why you’re anxious, but you just can’t stop worrying. An effective way to combat this is to dedicate time to think about it. 

It seems counterintuitive, but in reality, it works by forcing you to confront the anxious thoughts instead of letting them swirl around in the back of your mind.

It combines the mindfulness mentioned above with the honesty mentioned before: you’re focusing on the present, and you’re getting honest about what you’re thinking.

Of course, it’s important to make sure that you’re not giving into your anxious thoughts and fretting about worst-case scenarios.

This is the time to freak the F out about the jeans you wore in middle school, and if you’ll have enough in your retirement account.

Instead, use the time to work through your thoughts and do a “fact-check”: maybe you’re nervous about a presentation, but your anxiety is telling you that you’re going to do terrible.

Try this instead

acknowledge that yes, you’re nervous, and yes, you might mess up, but that you also know what you’re talking about and that whatever happens, it will be okay.

Take Care of Yourself

This isn’t BS self care like the magazines try to sell you- this is legit, tailored, I want to take care of myself for real, items we are talking about.

This can include a lot of different factors, but it generally boils down to two main things: diet and exercise.

BOOM.

imma repeat that.

Taking care of yourself is based off of FOOD AND MOVEMENT.

Studies have shown that substances like sugar and caffeine contribute to anxiety, so by watching what you eat and drink and how you feel afterwards, you can often decrease how anxious you feel, too.

Of course, another important key is exercise. Exercise lowers the body’s levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increases the body’s production of endorphins, which improve your mood. 

This means it’s time to plan a good hearty meal and have some fun afterwards at a dance party or a good walk around the park!

When assessing your lifestyle, it’s important to find what works for you and makes you feel good: you don’t have to commit to a crazy diet plan or exercise regimen to be happier and healthier.

Just work on making better choices, pay attention to how you feel after you eat or drink certain things, and do the kind of exercise you enjoy the most, whether it’s walking, biking, yoga, or whatever.

An elimination diet cold be very helpful here- in a nut shell you eliminate foods that you think might be causing an issue. Like how dairy causes inflammation in some people, other foods can cause anxiety.

Other important keys include drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, and–yes–taking time to relax and pamper yourself every once in a while. Sometimes, you need it.

Spend Time With Loved Ones

This is kinda self explanatory.

BUT NOT SOCIAL MEDIA

wait what?

Not social media?

But that’s where my loved ones are!

Well… sorry charlie, but social media can increase depression and anxiety.

Anxiety often makes people want to avoid the company of others, and though it is important to get alone sometimes, there are also benefits to spending time with others, especially loved ones with whom you feel comfortable and safe.

Social media, in this aspect, can actually increase loneliness.

Having someone to physically spend time with, even if it’s just one person, helps the body release oxytocin, a natural stress-relieving hormone.

It also distracts you (in a good way) from whatever you’re worrying about and, if you’re doing it right, takes the focus off yourself and onto the people you’re with.

No one needs to feel alone or isolated by anxiety, so it’s important to have people to confide in or who make you feel happier and more secure.

And by reciprocating that sense of love and care towards others, you’ll do yourself a world of good.

Find yourself a buddy and get to spend some time doing nothing.

It will be SOOOOOO good for you!

Break out the ole joke book

They say laughter is the best medicine, and in this case, it can actually be true.

It’s hard to feel anxious when you’re cracking up, and studies have shown that it lowers your stress response and helps relax your muscles.

It’s kind of like it’s own form of deep breathing.

Like that time your friend told a joke and you laughed so hard you couldn’t breathe.

That’s the kind of deep breathing were looking for.

So next time you’re feeling anxious, watch a funny YouTube video or your favorite comedian, or go watch a comedy movie with some friends.

Now you’re not only laughing, but spending time with people and laughing together, too.

Things that are funny lighten the mood and may even help you to step back and assess your worries with a more lighthearted frame of mind. 

Conclusion

People- it’s hard in the moment when anxiety strikes, but in reality, you’ve got some tools to help you feel less wound up.

Get back to feeling like yourself by taking care of your diet, getting active and finding more loved ones to share your time and laughs with.


How to learn to love yourself

Self-love and self-care are hot topics these days, and not without good reason: in today’s society, we are constantly bombarded with stimuli that influence our day-to-day thinking. The ability to love one’s self is a learned skill, and depending on your self-image, it can take years to develop the skill. However, it is certainly available to learn how to love yourself, and these simple steps will help you build habits of self-love.

  1. Watch your thoughts

In order to love yourself, the essential step is to start paying attention to the way you think about yourself. Most people don’t think about their thinking–it’s a habit you have to cultivate day in and day out, but in order to love yourself, you must start by swapping negative thoughts for positive ones each time you catch yourself thinking them.

  1. Treat yourself the way you treat others

You’ve heard the saying “treat others the way you’d like to be treated,” but the inverse is also true. Most of the time, it’s hard to love others if you don’t love yourself, but if you’re  the kind of person who finds it easy to do things for others but never pays attention to your own needs, then you should definitely apply your good habits towards others to yourself. 

  1. Set boundaries 

It’s also important to set boundaries in your life and in your relationships. When you have a positive self-image, you are less likely to let people walk all over you or do things you’re uncomfortable with for the sake of not letting someone else down. Learning that it’s okay to say no out of respect for yourself will help you build a habit of valuing your worth. 

  1. Spend time by yourself

Spending time with friends and family is great and can be very healthy, but sometimes, it’s necessary to get alone in order to rest or just do the things you like to do. It also gives you an opportunity to reflect on your thinking and work things out without distractions. Of course, this implies that you put the technology aside sometimes–though it’s also nice to watch a movie or some YouTube by yourself sometimes, too. 

  1. Cultivate loving relationships

On the flipside, loving yourself also means spending time with the people who love you, whether it’s your significant other, family member, or friend. In any case, it is important that it is a loving relationship–not a one-way street, not hostile or negative, and not toxic. No relationship is perfect, but if you walk away feeling like crap almost every time, or then it’s probably time to rethink that relationship’s value. The people you spend the most time with should bring out the best in you, not the opposite.

  1. Don’t settle for less

This is advice often used in relationships, but it is certainly applicable to other areas, too: don’t settle for the job that you hate, the haircut that sucked, or even when a restaurant gets your order wrong. There’s nothing wrong with having high standards as long as you don’t start expecting perfection. Believing that you deserve quality relationships, quality services, and a quality life is an important part of loving yourself.

  1. Learn how to relax

Many of us are on the go a lot–jobs, school, family, etc., and we don’t take the time to relax enough. Relaxation doesn’t always mean a week-long vacation. (Although that’s nice sometimes, too!) It can mean a fifteen-minute breather, an evening of pampering, or a nature walk at the local park. Anyway you slice it, relaxation is an essential part of showing yourself a little self-love and makes it easier for you to do the things you need to do.

  1. Be honest with yourself

It’s really easy, depending on who you are, to slip into denial when it comes to recognizing your weaknesses–because most of us don’t like our flaws, and we don’t want to think about them. Even though it’s not productive to focus on them obsessively, it’s also not productive to pretend they don’t exist. That means you’re lying to yourself, because everyone has weaknesses. Being honest about your mistakes and accepting the fact that you’re not perfect is actually more loving than ignoring them–because then you can grow through them.

  1. Believe in grace

It doesn’t matter what your personal belief system is–you’re better off believing in grace than not, because when you do make mistakes, you need a healthy way to deal with them. The alternative is having grace on yourself–determining that your shortcomings do not have any bearing on your self-worth. It can be difficult to do at times, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

  1. Forgive yourself

Right next to grace is forgiveness–and again, it doesn’t matter what your belief system is, because forgiving yourself is essential to self-love. When you hold onto your mistakes, you’re not helping anyone–least of all yourself. No matter how big the mistake is, learning to forgive yourself is incredibly healing.

  1. Learn to let go of the past

This goes hand-in-hand with forgiving yourself, but the difference is that it also implies forgiving others. Many times, not forgiving others is just as (if not more) damaging to yourself than it is to the other person. Letting go of past transgressions–whether they were your fault or someone else’s–is a two-fold kindness to yourself and to others.

  1. Live in the present 

If you’re not living in the past, then you may be fretting the future–which isn’t going to help you love yourself much. All we really have is the present moment, and it’s enough just to face the challenges (and successes) of the day. It’s not that you can always ignore the concerns of the future, but you can choose to accept where you are today and treat each day as a fresh start.

  1. Do the things you love

This one seems self-evident, but many of us don’t take the time to do the things that

make us happy–whether it’s drawing, reading, playing basketball, anything positive. But loving yourself does mean doing the things you love, so find what makes you happy and do it!

  1. Treat yourself every so often

You’ve likely heard this before–and though you can definitely go overboard with treating yourself, if you’re the kind of person who tends to deny yourself the things that you want, then by all means, treat yo’self! (Parks and Rec fans, I hope this reference resonates.) Buy that cute top, that cheeseburger, that doo-dad. As long as you’re not breaking the bank, show yourself a little love every now and then and buy yourself a present!

  1. Give freely

Yes, you should give to yourself, but also giving to others is one of the most fulfilling ways to love yourself–as long as it’s not out of obligation or guilt. Giving freely–without expecting anything in return–is just as satisfying for you as it is for the person you’re giving to, and in that act of selflessness, you’re showing yourself more love than if you were to hold back from giving. 

  1. Take care of yourself

Treating yourself is nice, but beware of treating yourself too much–because part of loving yourself is loving your body, too. This doesn’t mean you become a health guru, but it does mean you take the necessary steps to feel good, whether it’s walking, running, biking, yoga, drinking more water, making wholesome meals, or eliminating foods that make you feel blah. You only get one body–so love it!

  1. Celebrate your accomplishments

Thanks to negativity bias, most of us are more likely to focus on our failures than on our accomplishments–but you can’t forget all the things you’ve succeeded in doing, no matter how small! Take the time to write a list of everything you feel proud of, even if it feels insignificant–and then celebrate them!

  1. Don’t compare yourself to others

This one is huge, because in our social media-saturated world, it’s easy to spend hours looking at people who seem much prettier/healthier/happier/more successful than you. First of all, you have no idea what those people’s lives are actually like, and it’s a guarantee that they have flaws. Second of all, you can only be the person you are, and just like celebrating your accomplishments, you have to celebrate what makes you unique, too.

  1. Be yourself

Naturally, this one would make the list. Easier said than done, right? We can’t always be 100% ourselves in every setting. If you’re loud and boisterous, you probably can’t be that way at your quiet job. Although, if it’s too much to bear, maybe it’s worth your while to find a job that plays to your strengths! The goal is to be the most yourself as possible, and if you’re holding back, then take a step back and ask yourself why. 

  1. Learn to let go of the little things

Similar to living in the present, learning to let go of the little things implies that you keep moving forward and not let small irritants ruin your day or your self-image. So you spilled your coffee–that sucks, but it’s nothing to beat yourself up over. So you didn’t get your laundry done like you said you would–tomorrow is a new day! Learning to love yourself means learning to laugh at your mistakes, to let them go, and to keep moving forward. You can’t control everything, but you can control how you think about yourself.

75 Best Foods For Weight Loss

With so many diets, pills, and powders on the market, weight loss can seem a little complicated.

In reality, it cannot be more simple–it’s all the foods you’ve been told to eat before (and then some).

Mother Nature really does provides all the ingredients for a healthy, nutritious weight-loss program.

Basically, as long as you keep a healthy balance of food groups and stick to mainly whole foods (as all of these are), then you are on your way to sustainable weight loss. The best part is, most of these things are delicious.


Proteins

  1. Eggs

Eggs get a bad rap for their “cholesterol,” but really, unless you’re on a low-cholesterol diet, eggs are anything but unhealthy. Full of protein and fat, they’ll keep you full throughout the day.

  1. Salmon

A great lean protein that will keep you full on fewer calories, salmon is also full of omega-3 fatty acids and important nutrients like iodine.

  1. Lean Beef (92% minimum)

Yes, you can still have burgers!

  1. Chicken

The wonders of chicken. Naturally lean and incredibly versatile, this is a great protein for weight loss. Provided it’s not processed or fried. 

  1. Tuna

Tuna is both high-protein and low-calorie, making it an ideal weight loss food. If you’re staying away from fats, look for tuna canned in water, not oil. 

  1. Sardines

Like tuna, sardines are high-protein and great for feeling full. 

  1. Black Beans

Delicious and versatile, black beans are an excellent plant protein that is also high in fiber.

  1. Kidney beans

Honestly, any bean is a good addition to your weight loss grocery list–kidney beans, however, are easy to find and to prepare. 

  1. Chickpeas

Whether it’s straight from a can or ground up in some hummus, you can’t go wrong with some chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans).

  1. Lentils

If you’ve never tried lentils, now’s the time. Delicious and full of fiber, they make a great side dish.

  1. Cashews

Full of healthy fats and protein, cashews are a great way to stay full throughout the day. If you’re watching your fats, look for the dry-roasted or raw varieties.

  1. Almonds

The same principle applies–dry-roasted or raw, and try to steer clear of the chocolate-covered ones! (Unless they’re dark chocolate… see #71)

  1. Pecans

Healthy fat and delicious flavor! Try them roasted!

  1. Walnuts

Try them in a salad with apples or in yogurt with blueberries for some delicious, filling nuttiness. 

  1. Peanut Butter

Filling and versatile, you can always count on peanut butter to hold you over.

  1. Almond Butter

Not a fan of peanut butter? Try almond butter! It’s richer and just as filling.

  1. Pine Nuts

They might be a little pricey, but their healthy fats and delicious flavor might be worth the investment.

  1. Pistachios

With less calories than other nuts, these are an ideal snack for weight loss. 

Carbohydrates

  1. Oats

As a complex carb, oats are ideal for weight loss because they take longer to break down.

  1. Brown Rice

Flavorful, packed with fiber, and low-calorie, brown rice is another ideal carbohydrate for weight loss. 

  1. Quinoa

This ancient grain (technically a seed!) is nutrient-dense and protein-rich. 

  1. Pearl Barley

A satiating starch that’ll help you feel full, it’s great for soups and stews.

  1. Potatoes

Don’t get too excited–french fries are still off the table. But roasted, baked, and boiled potatoes are not. 

  1. Sweet Potatoes

Packed with vitamin A and resistant starch, they’ll help you feel full longer.

  1. Popcorn

As long as you’re not filling it up with butter, popcorn can actually be a great low-calorie snack. 

  1. Buckwheat Pasta

Swap your regular pasta for buckwheat to get more fiber and a surprising amount of protein (24 grams a cup).

Fruits

  1. Grapefruit

Grapefruit is surprisingly filling, which makes it a great way to start off your day and keep you satiated through breakfast. Half of one should do the trick. 

  1. Apples

The pectin in apples helps keep you full, making it an ideal snack choice for weight loss.

  1. Bananas

Bananas get knocked for their sugar content, but they also contain resistant starch, which your body digests slowly, helping you stay full. 

  1. Blueberries

Known for their ability to fight off free radicals, they’re also good fighting off hunger. A great low-calorie snack!

  1. Figs

Okay, maybe not Fig Newtons, but trust me–figs are just as sweet.

  1. Oranges

Filling and nutritious, oranges will provide you with fiber while satisfying your sweet tooth.

  1. Pears

Another great source of fiber and natural sweetness!

  1. Plantains

A less-sweet version of the banana, this starchy fruit is sure to keep you full.

  1. Lemons

Great for flavor and a little pectin fiber!

  1. Raspberries

Antioxidants, fiber, nutrients, and delicious sweetness. What more can you say?

  1. Goji Berries

Full of amino acids, these little berries have more protein than most, making them more filling. 

  1. Pomegranates

Get them when they’re in season! They’re full of antioxidants and the seeds pack some fiber.

  1. Watermelon

At 46 calories per cup, it’s a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth.

  1. Strawberries

Fresh or frozen, these flavonoid-rich berries make a wonderful dessert alternative. 

  1. Grapes

Another great way to satisfy your sweet cravings without the calories.

  1. Tomatoes

Mostly lycopene and water, tomatoes are nutritious, low-calorie, and versatile.

  1. Avocados

That’s right–avocados are a fruit, too. But unlike most fruits, they’re low in carbs and full of healthy fats.

Veggies

  1. Cucumber

Since they’re mostly water, they’re a great low-calorie snack–and the skin provides some fiber. 

  1. Kale

Worth the hype, kale is packed with iron and calcium, but only contains 33 calories a cup.

  1. Spinach

Spinach really has too much going for it. Suffice it to say that it’s very, very good for you.

  1. Collard Greens

Low calorie, high fiber, and full of vitamin A and K. 

  1. Swiss Chard

As pretty as it is healthy, this leafy green is also a great source of vitamins A and K. 

  1. Broccoli

You may have hated it as a kid, but at 30 calories a serving and full of fiber, it’s about to become your new best friend. 

  1. Cauliflower

Like its cousin broccoli, cauliflower is low in calories but high in fiber. Try them both steamed to prevent bloating. 

  1. Brussel Sprouts

You gotta love those cruciferous vegetables, and nothing takes the cake like Brussel sprouts. Try them roasted for maximum deliciousness. 

  1. Chili Pepper

Because they contain capsaicin, chili peppers are said to help reduce your appetite and help you burn fat. This is good news if (like me) you like spicy food.

  1. Bell Peppers

Packed with vitamin C, they make a great side dish–or stuff them and make them the main event!

  1. Pumpkin

Not just for pie, pumpkin is packed with fiber, vitamin B, and beta-carotene. 

  1. Mushrooms

Mushrooms like portobellos have been shown to help regulate blood sugar. Plus, they’re a great meat alternative.

  1. Artichokes

Artichokes are one of the highest-fiber vegetables out there, making them immensely filling. 

  1. Cabbage

Great for slaws and salads, cabbage is a great low-calorie filler that’s rich in antioxidants.

  1. Carrots

Whether you take them raw or cooked, carrots are packed with fiber and will help you feel full past meal time. Plus, you know, good for eyesight.

  1. Celery

This might be the only vegetable that burns calories as you eat it–not really, but it does only have 14 calories in a cup.

  1. Kimchi

Seems weird, but this Korean fermented cabbage is actually great because it contains probiotics, which aid in digestion.

Dairy

  1. Cottage Cheese

Compared to other dairy products, most cottage cheese is more protein than anything else. Also a great source of calcium, of course.

  1. Greek Yogurt

With three times as much protein as an egg, you’re set for breakfast!

  1. Parmesan

You don’t have to sacrifice all your cheese–parmesan is high in protein and come on, it’s delicious. 

Fats and Oils

  1. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

It may be a high fat and calorie food, but healthy fats in moderation are great for keeping you full–and keeping your heart healthy.

  1. Coconut Oil

Another viable option is coconut oil, which, though it has sparked some controversy, does contain a high amount of medium-chain triglycerides, which are easier for the body to burn off. 

Other good things to have

  1. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar can help you feel full and is a great way to add some brightness to salads.

  1. Mustard

Extremely low in calories, mustard is an ideal condiment for weight loss.

  1. Chia Seeds

As you may have heard, chia seeds are crazy nutritious, packed with fiber, omega-3s and other important nutrients.

  1. Flax Seeds

Another good source of fiber, they’re great in smoothies or oatmeal.

  1. Dark Chocolate (70-85%)

Satisfy your cravings with some dark chocolate, which has been shown to help speed up your metabolism.

  1. Coffee

Good news, coffee lovers: coffee helps you burn calories. However, those (sadly delicious) blended beverages do not–so be wary of what you’re putting in your coffee.

  1. Green tea

Not a coffee drinker? Green tea is great for weight loss and high in antioxidants!

  1. Red Wine

In moderation, red wine has actually been shown to help in weight loss! Just, you know, try to limit it to one glass. 

  1. Water

Well, duh!

15 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Household Budget Expenses

You’ve got bills to pay.

A gas tank to fill.

Mouths to feed (including your own).

But do you have to work work work everyday?

Well, you’re not alone there–and you’re definitely not the only one looking for ways to reduce your household expenses.

Sometimes, the simplest things can make all the difference.

And all those differences add up to a whole lot more money!

Discover 15 simple ways to stay within budget.

1. Switch to Energy Efficient Light Bulbs 

You’ve probably heard that it saves money, and for good reason: it does.

So why not switch? LEDs are the best option for several reasons: they last 2-4 longer than other bulbs, they’re environmentally friendly, and they use up to 90% less power than incandescents. Plus, they’re so bright!

2. Water Bottle in the Toilet 

Ever heard of this one? It sounds weird, but it actually works: place a full, plastic water bottle in the back part of your toilet to displace some of the water when you flush. Every little bit helps!

Bonus: for the really hardcore (or if you live alone), abide by the “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” rule and don’t flush every time you relieve your bladder. Just… maybe keep the toilet seat down.

3. Low-flow Shower Heads

Everybody knows that taking shorter showers saves money on water, but did you know you can buy shower heads that will use less water, too?

Some spray a mist, but others just squeeze the water through smaller holes. For maximum efficiency, look for ones that have a flow rate of less than 2.5 gpm.

4. Turn Off the Lights

This one’s so simple it’s ridiculous: turn off the lights when you leave a room!

If you have to place sticky notes by your light switches to remind yourself, do it! Don’t leave your lights on!

5. Unplug and turn off

Did you know that devices draw power even if they’re plugged in but not turned on?

Obviously, some things need to stay plugged in, but other things, like phone chargers, kitchen appliances, and hair styling tools (you should never leave those plugged in anyway!) should be unplugged when not in use to save electricity.

Turn down your hot water heater too!

And if your going out of town- turn the hot water OFF.

6. Cancel Cable

It’s sad but true: with so many media streaming options, cable television is slowly becoming more obsolete.

If you’re not a heavy cable user, then consider cancelling your subscription to save money. Nowadays, you can find most cable TV shows online or on streaming services anyway. It’s the way of the future.

7. Evaluate Your Subscriptions

Please, for the love of all that is good in this world- CHECK your subscriptions.

when it does come to media streaming services, consider evaluating the ones you subscribe to and ask yourself if you really use them (or need them).

Maybe you regularly watch Netflix, but do you need Hulu, YouTube Red, and Verve, too? Spotify, Pandora, AND Apple Music? Pare it down to your most-used services and your bank account will thank you. 

8. Brown Paper baggies, anyone?

Come on, not this one again!

Packing lunches is such a pain, and it’s easy to forget to do it. Not if you plan for it, though!

Pack the night before, buy foods that can be assembled easily, or box up leftovers.

Even if you only pack lunch three days out of five, it can still save you big time if you’re prone to eating out.

You don’t have to meal prep.

Simply grabbing connivence food from the grocery store will save you a ton compared to fast food restaurants.

9. Stock Up!

Is buying in bulk really cost-effective, you may ask?

It is if you buy in bulk the things you use the most.

Obviously, buying bulk perishables isn’t always the best idea (unless you really do go through that much milk), but for nonperishables and freezer items, the savings can be huge.

10. Buy Out of Season

Department stores are smart–they know that when summer rolls around, people will be more willing to pay more for swimsuits because they need them now.

Same for winter coats, etc.

But if you’re willing to endure your old coat or swimsuit for just a few more months, then you can score some pretty good deals at the end of the season when stores put those things on clearance.

I set a reminder in my phone to start checking the clearance items for things that I know I’ll need for next year.

BOGO markers? yes please

discounted swim suits? ill take two!

11. Shop at Thrift Stores

It’s definitely become more of a trend in recent years, and for good reason: thrift stores are a great place to find lightly used clothes, furniture, and more at (often) very low prices.

Skip the pricey, name-brand clothing store–you’re likely to find name-brand clothes at thrift stores anyway, and at a fraction of the price. 


Bonus: Do you have name-brand, quality clothing that you don’t wear anymore? Research your local consignment stores–these are thrift stores that give you a cut of the profits when someone buys your clothes off their racks. It’s a win-win!

12. Reduce, reuse, recycle

Next time you need household items, instead of hitting up the local furniture warehouse or homegoods store, consider shopping around at garage sales first.

A lot of people sell unwanted furniture and kitchenware, often in good condition–and often for an extremely discounted price. (And if you’re bold, you can always haggle!)

Just beware of falling into the trap of buying things you don’t need. It’s tempting, but don’t!

13. Take Advantage of Rewards Programs

“Are you part of our rewards program?” asks every store ever. If there are places that you shop at frequently and you haven’t signed up for their rewards programs yet, do it!

It’s generally free to do so and a lot of stores these days have rewards that can be redeemed at gas stations. At the least, you’ll get extra discounts!

14. Keep Your Tires Inflated

Tires lose pressure over time, but keeping them inflated gives you better gas mileage.

So find a local gas station that has a free air station and check the air pressure in your tires every month or so. Your car’s manual will tell you what the recommended PSI is. Fill them well, and often! 

15. Visit Your Local Library

Local libraries are a great resource nowadays not only for books, but for movie rentals, too. Skip the Redbox: check out your local library’s stock.

If there’s something you want to rent that they don’t have, search their catalog and request it from another branch.

Better yet: search ahead of time and put it on hold so all you have to do is pick it up!

20 ways to learn to love yourself today

Self-love and self-care are hot topics these days, and not without good reason: in today’s society, we are constantly bombarded with stimuli that influence our day-to-day thinking.

The ability to love one’s self is a learned skill, and depending on your self-image, it can take years to develop the skill. However, it is certainly available to learn how to love yourself, and these simple steps will help you build habits of self-love.


  1. Watch your thoughts

In order to love yourself, the essential step is to start paying attention to the way you think about yourself.

Most people don’t think about their thinking–it’s a habit you have to cultivate day in and day out, but in order to love yourself, you must start by swapping negative thoughts for positive ones each time you catch yourself thinking them.

-Treat yourself the way you treat others

You’ve heard the saying “treat others the way you’d like to be treated,” but the inverse is also true.

Most of the time, it’s hard to love others if you don’t love yourself, but if you’re  the kind of person who finds it easy to do things for others but never pays attention to your own needs, then you should definitely apply your good habits towards others to yourself. 

-Set boundaries 

It’s also important to set boundaries in your life and in your relationships.

When you have a positive self-image, you are less likely to let people walk all over you or do things you’re uncomfortable with for the sake of not letting someone else down.

Learning that it’s okay to say no out of respect for yourself will help you build a habit of valuing your worth. 


-Spend time by yourself

Spending time with friends and family is great and can be very healthy, but sometimes, it’s necessary to get alone in order to rest or just do the things you like to do.

It also gives you an opportunity to reflect on your thinking and work things out without distractions.

Of course, this implies that you put the technology aside sometimes–though it’s also nice to watch a movie or some YouTube by yourself sometimes, too. 

-Cultivate loving relationships

On the flipside, loving yourself also means spending time with the people who love you, whether it’s your significant other, family member, or friend. In any case, it is important that it is a loving relationship–not a one-way street, not hostile or negative, and not toxic. No relationship is perfect, but if you walk away feeling like crap almost every time, or then it’s probably time to rethink that relationship’s value. The people you spend the most time with should bring out the best in you, not the opposite.

-Don’t settle for less

This is advice often used in relationships, but it is certainly applicable to other areas, too: don’t settle for the job that you hate, the haircut that sucked, or even when a restaurant gets your order wrong. There’s nothing wrong with having high standards as long as you don’t start expecting perfection. Believing that you deserve quality relationships, quality services, and a quality life is an important part of loving yourself.

-Learn how to relax

Many of us are on the go a lot–jobs, school, family, etc., and we don’t take the time to relax enough. Relaxation doesn’t always mean a week-long vacation. (Although that’s nice sometimes, too!) It can mean a fifteen-minute breather, an evening of pampering, or a nature walk at the local park. Anyway you slice it, relaxation is an essential part of showing yourself a little self-love and makes it easier for you to do the things you need to do.

-Be honest with yourself

It’s really easy, depending on who you are, to slip into denial when it comes to recognizing your weaknesses–because most of us don’t like our flaws, and we don’t want to think about them. Even though it’s not productive to focus on them obsessively, it’s also not productive to pretend they don’t exist. That means you’re lying to yourself, because everyone has weaknesses. Being honest about your mistakes and accepting the fact that you’re not perfect is actually more loving than ignoring them–because then you can grow through them.

-Believe in grace

It doesn’t matter what your personal belief system is–you’re better off believing in grace than not, because when you do make mistakes, you need a healthy way to deal with them. The alternative is having grace on yourself–determining that your shortcomings do not have any bearing on your self-worth. It can be difficult to do at times, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

-Forgive yourself

Right next to grace is forgiveness–and again, it doesn’t matter what your belief system is, because forgiving yourself is essential to self-love. When you hold onto your mistakes, you’re not helping anyone–least of all yourself. No matter how big the mistake is, learning to forgive yourself is incredibly healing.

-Learn to let go of the past

This goes hand-in-hand with forgiving yourself, but the difference is that it also implies forgiving others. Many times, not forgiving others is just as (if not more) damaging to yourself than it is to the other person. Letting go of past transgressions–whether they were your fault or someone else’s–is a two-fold kindness to yourself and to others.

-Live in the present 

If you’re not living in the past, then you may be fretting the future–which isn’t going to help you love yourself much. All we really have is the present moment, and it’s enough just to face the challenges (and successes) of the day. It’s not that you can always ignore the concerns of the future, but you can choose to accept where you are today and treat each day as a fresh start.

-Do the things you love

This one seems self-evident, but many of us don’t take the time to do the things that

make us happy–whether it’s drawing, reading, playing basketball, anything positive. But loving yourself does mean doing the things you love, so find what makes you happy and do it!

-Treat yourself every so often

You’ve likely heard this before–and though you can definitely go overboard with treating yourself, if you’re the kind of person who tends to deny yourself the things that you want, then by all means, treat yo’self! (Parks and Rec fans, I hope this reference resonates.) Buy that cute top, that cheeseburger, that doo-dad. As long as you’re not breaking the bank, show yourself a little love every now and then and buy yourself a present!

-Give freely

Yes, you should give to yourself, but also giving to others is one of the most fulfilling ways to love yourself–as long as it’s not out of obligation or guilt. Giving freely–without expecting anything in return–is just as satisfying for you as it is for the person you’re giving to, and in that act of selflessness, you’re showing yourself more love than if you were to hold back from giving. 

-Take care of yourself

Treating yourself is nice, but beware of treating yourself too much–because part of loving yourself is loving your body, too. This doesn’t mean you become a health guru, but it does mean you take the necessary steps to feel good, whether it’s walking, running, biking, yoga, drinking more water, making wholesome meals, or eliminating foods that make you feel blah. You only get one body–so love it!

-Celebrate your accomplishments

Thanks to negativity bias, most of us are more likely to focus on our failures than on our accomplishments–but you can’t forget all the things you’ve succeeded in doing, no matter how small! Take the time to write a list of everything you feel proud of, even if it feels insignificant–and then celebrate them!

-Don’t compare yourself to others

This one is huge, because in our social media-saturated world, it’s easy to spend hours looking at people who seem much prettier/healthier/happier/more successful than you. First of all, you have no idea what those people’s lives are actually like, and it’s a guarantee that they have flaws. Second of all, you can only be the person you are, and just like celebrating your accomplishments, you have to celebrate what makes you unique, too.

-Be yourself

Naturally, this one would make the list. Easier said than done, right? We can’t always be 100% ourselves in every setting. If you’re loud and boisterous, you probably can’t be that way at your quiet job. Although, if it’s too much to bear, maybe it’s worth your while to find a job that plays to your strengths! The goal is to be the most yourself as possible, and if you’re holding back, then take a step back and ask yourself why. 

-Learn to let go of the little things

Similar to living in the present, learning to let go of the little things implies that you keep moving forward and not let small irritants ruin your day or your self-image. So you spilled your coffee–that sucks, but it’s nothing to beat yourself up over. So you didn’t get your laundry done like you said you would–tomorrow is a new day! Learning to love yourself means learning to laugh at your mistakes, to let them go, and to keep moving forward. You can’t control everything, but you can control how you think about yourself.

Avoid weight gain this season with 22 smart tips


The holiday season: the time of thankfulness, good cheer, and happy tidings.

And lots and lots of food.

Weight gain during the holiday season is extremely common because of the excessive amount of extra sweets, treats, and big meals we Americans consume during those festive months, and on average, an adult will gain an extra pound between the months of November and January.

Though that may not seem like much, if you’re trying to regulate your weight, it can be a real setback.

Avoid the weight gain this holiday season with these helpful tips!


1. Stay Active

It’s easy to become more sedentary during the holiday season–the weather is colder, the days are busier, and it’s easy to talk yourself out of it.

However, because of the tendency to overeat during the holiday season, it’s important to stay active, even if it’s just going for a walk.

Some areas even do Thanksgiving- or Christmas-themed 5K races, which are another good way to stay active.

2. Smaller Plates

A good trick for keeping your portion sizes smaller during the holiday season is to literally use smaller plates.

Psychologically, smaller plates help you eat less because you’ll feel like you’ve eaten more when you fill the plate up, even though in reality, you’re eating less.

3. Skip Seconds

Of course, the small plate method doesn’t really do you much good if you go back for seconds and thirds, which is why, if you want to avoid weight gain during the holidays, you should do your best to avoid seconds when eating holiday meals.

Just make it a rule to fill your plate with everything you want to eat the first time, that way, you won’t be as tempted to overeat. 

4. Limit Your Liquids

One of the biggest culprits for weight gain during the holidays is the beverages–from egg nog to hot cocoa to sugary alcoholic beverages, you can easily drink your calories into oblivion.

In order to counteract this, set a limit on how many caloric beverages you can have in a given night and/or in a given week.

5. Chew Slower

Chewing slower not only helps you digest your food better, it also prevents you from gaining weight because when you chew and swallow your food slowly, your body’s natural satiety signals kick in, alerting you that you are full.

You are less likely to overeat and, as an added bonus, you savor the delicious food more. 

6. Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough sleep is important for avoiding weight loss because when you’re sleep deprived, which is not uncommon during the busy holiday season, you are more likely to feel hungry due to increased hunger hormone levels and/or skip your exercise routine due to fatigue.

Do yourself a favor and get a good night’s sleep!

7. Find Ways to Reduce Stress

The holidays are known for being a stressful time. Aside from making sure you get enough sleep, finding other ways to reduce your stress levels and much as possible will prevent you from stress-eating, which can cause weight gain.

Take the time to breathe, take a hot bath, do some yoga, or whatever else helps you feel more relaxed. 

8. Skip the Egg nog and other festive drinks

Sure, egg nog and that gingerbread martini are delicious- but they can also pack on the pounds with their deceptive deliciousness.

9. Make a Pact With Someone

It’s easier to stick to your dietary commitments if you’re not going at it alone–so ask a family member, friend, or even coworker if they’ll make a pact with you to avoid gaining weight during the holidays.

That day, you can hold each other accountable and increase your motivation to stick to your plan. It’s always better with a friend. 

10. Make Things From Scratch

Boxed mixed and other processed food products are abundant during the holiday season, but they often have tons of additives and are loaded with calories.

In order to control what goes into your food, try making as many things from scratch as you can stand. 

11. Choose Healthier Recipes to Make

Nowadays, there are a host of healthy holiday recipes and ingredient substitutions to choose from that taste delicious.

When deciding what dishes you’re going to bring to the family dinner, instead of going with the same recipe, try researching healthier versions or substitutions to make instead.

You may be surprised with what you find.

12. Set a Limit on What You Can Eat

If you’re going to be attending a lot of parties and family gatherings where there will be lots of dishes and appetizers, you’re going to want to set a limit on how many you can eat.

For example, four bite-sized hors d’oeuvres or one plate of dessert. 

13. Eat a Healthy Snack Before Parties

Another helpful tip to avoid overeating at parties is to never arrive hungry–obviously, you’ll be more likely to overindulge in holiday foods if you show up on an empty stomach.

At least an hour before you leave, eat a healthy snack, like some apples and peanut butter or carrots and hummus. That way, you have a good baseline going in.

14. Snack on Fresh Fruits, Veggies, and Nuts

Most parties will have at least one fruit or veggie tray, and mixed nuts are a popular fare around the holidays.

In order to avoid eating too many high-sugar, high-fat foods, gravitate towards the healthier party trays to help you feel full.

15. Get Enough Protein and Fiber

During the holiday season, there’s an abundance of sugary, starchy, fatty foods that can throw your balanced diet out of whack with empty calories.

To keep yourself on track and feeling full without overindulging, make sure you’re getting enough protein and fiber during the holidays, too.

Buy lean meats like chicken (and of course there will be turkey!) and whole grains like brown rice and quinoa. 

16. Don’t Alter the Rest of Your Routine

The holidays can be hectic time that throws everyone out of their normal routine with events and family functions, but as much as you can keep the rest of your health routine the same,do it.

keep making the same healthy meals on the off days, stick to your exercise regimen as much as possible, and try to go to sleep at the same time.

This will help keep your body regulated and prevent weight gain.

17. Freeze Leftovers 

Rather than eat mashed potatoes and gravy for a week, try freezing dishes after a holiday feast to allow your body time to process the rich meals and prevent you from overindulging on them.

Save them for another day when you can balance the fat and starch out with protein, fiber, and veggies.

Plus, you get to keep enjoying your holiday favorites after the season has passed. 

18. Pace Yourself

Whether you’re at a party or enjoying your holiday feast, be sure to pace yourself–don’t just gobble up everything you see like it’s the last meal you’ll ever have.

If it’s a serve-yourself kind of party, maybe only make yourself a plate every hour, and if it’s a meal, chew slowly and wait at least twenty minutes before you decide to indulge in seconds–this gives your body time to decide if it’s full. 

19. Have a Cut-Off Time

Another helpful method for avoiding weight gain is to set a cut-off time at which you stop eating.

This is especially helpful at nighttime events, since the tendency is to keep eating and drinking late into the night, which contributes to weight gain.

Maybe you decide that at 8 pm, you’re done eating for the night–you can even ask someone to hold you to it so you don’t cave in. 

20. Socialize

Everyone associates food and indulgence with the holidays, and granted it is fun to break bread with your family and friends, you shouldn’t forget that it’s also about spending time with them, too.

Next time you go to a holiday gathering, try focusing more on socializing than on eating.

It will keep you distracted and you’ll get to catch up with your loved ones. Isn’t that what the holidays are all about?

21. Chew Gum

Chewing gum tricks the body into thinking it’s eating, which can help satisfy your cravings in between meals.

During the holiday season, try chewing gum while cooking to prevent excessive taste testing or at a party to reinforce your cut-off time. As an added bonus, your breath will smell nice.

22. Drink Water

Studies show that drinking a glass of water about half and hour before each meal not only aids in digestion, but also prevents weight gain by making you feel fuller on less food.

This is especially helpful during the holiday season, when the food is filling anyway. It’s also a great way to keep yourself from drinking too many calories.  

15 deliciously healthy foods you need to start eating today

If you’ve ever gone into a grocery store without a shopping list, then you have likely experienced that feeling where your mind goes completely blank from all the stimuli.

SO MUCH FOOD

MUST EAT IT ALL

ok… maybe not all of it because that would be hella expensive- but you get my drift.

If your goal is to eat and shop healthier, then making sure you go into the store with a shopping list is a helpful way to stay on track.

And if you’re looking for healthy foods to add to your shopping list, then here’s a few you can jot down- SAVE it in your phone for easy access too!

Lemons

Lemons are not only a great source of vitamin C, they’re also an excellent and low-calorie way to add flavor and vibrancy to your dishes.

Fish, chicken, veggies, salad–there are countless ways to incorporate lemons into your diet that are easy and delicious.

Garlic

Garlic is another great way to flavor dishes (not to mention it pairs very nicely with lemon).

It has very few calories but plenty of vitamins and minerals, and it’s an excellent immune-system builder that fights diseases and helps lower cholesterol.

Crush it up and add it to sauteed vegetables, but don’t overcook it or it will lose nutrients!

Sweet Potatoes 

Sweet potatoes are a versatile and nutrient-rich starch that can be eaten all year round, not just during the holidays.

They’re extremely high in vitamin A from beta-carotene, and they also contain vitamin C, potassium, iron, and trace amounts of manganese and copper.

They’re also a good source of fiber. Try them baked or as oven-baked fries, and be sure to store them in a cool, dark place. 

Black Beans 

black beans are high in protein and fiber, with about 60% daily value of each.

They also contain B vitamins and antioxidants, making them a heart-healthy food that helps keep you full. Canned black beans are cheap, easy to store, and easy to prepare–add them to some brown rice and steamed vegetables for a simple, balanced dinner.

Grain Free Breads

Notice a trend lately?

The people that are going gluten free have been able to drop some serious pounds.

Most grain free breads are made with nuts- which can also pack some serious protein.

Salmon 

Salmon is a great lean protein that will keep you full on fewer calories.

It’s also full of omega-3 fatty acids and important nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin B, iron, and magnesium. Bake it or grill it with lemon and herbs for a delicious, flavorful main course. 

Frozen Veggies

Why frozen veggies? Fresh veggies are a great option, but if you don’t have a plan for them, they may end up going bad in the fridge.

Frozen vegetables are long-lasting and easy to prepare.

Frozen veggies = no excuses

You can steam them or stir-fry them and serve them on a bed of brown rice or quinoa with some chicken (or salmon!).

Quinoa

This ancient grain (technically a seed) is nutrient-dense and protein-rich.

It’s also a great source of fiber, antioxidants, magnesium, manganese, and other trace minerals. The best part is, it cooks in as little as 15 minutes, making it a great choice for quick meals.

You could stuff it in some peppers or mix it with some sauteed spinach for a hearty side dish.

Hummus

Made from ground up chickpeas and tahini (sesame paste), hummus is full of protein, healthy fats, and fiber.

You can buy it premade in stores or make it at home, and it’s a great snack food that can be served with wheat crackers or fresh vegetables. Try it on a sandwich, too! 

Walnuts

Walnuts are a delicious, protein-rich nut that are also extremely high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help reduce cholesterol.

Try them in a salad with apples or in yogurt with blueberries for a delicious, healthy breakfast. 

Dark Chocolate

If you need a healthier way to satisfy you sweet tooth, pick up some dark chocolate next time you go to the store.

It contains antioxidants and flavanols, which promote a healthy heart. It has also been shown to help speed up your metabolism.

The darker the better, but in general, 70% minimum is your best bet. 

Blueberries

Blueberries and other dark berries are high in antioxidants and therefore known for their ability to fight off free radicals.

They’re also surprisingly good at fighting off hunger in just a few calories, and as an added bonus, they’re a good source of fiber and vitamins C, K, and manganese. 

Chia Seeds

As you may have heard, chia seeds are crazy nutritious, packed with fiber, omega-3s and other important nutrients.

They even have some protein, and a little goes a long way. They’re easy to incorporate into smoothies, yogurt, salads, and even vegetables and rice dishes. 

Bell Peppers

If you’re looking for a nutritious, versatile veggie that is low in calories but high in vitamins and minerals, then look no further than bell peppers.

Green, red, orange, and yellow all have slightly different flavors and nutritional components (for example, red and orange are higher in beta-carotene) but all of them are packed with vitamin C.

Raw or cooked, they make a great snack or side dish!

 Grapefruit

Grapefruit is surprisingly filling, which makes it a great way to start off your day and keep you satiated through breakfast.

Half of a grapefruit has about 50 calories and lots of vitamin C and A, as well as potassium and thiamine.

It also contains some fiber and is high in antioxidants, and has been linked to both weight loss and heart health.