Day 3 of the 12 Days of Fitmas: Five Cost Free Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

The winter solstice is coming up next Wednesday December 21st, 2016, this means it will be the shortest day of sunlight for the entire year, also making it the darkest day of the year. It comes as no surprise to me, that we celebrate Christmas, and other Holidays during this time of year, as an attempt to bring some light, and happiness to one another on these cold and dark winter days. However, despite the celebrations, the lack of sunlight can have a dramatic effect on your energy levels and mood. Below is a list of 5 ways to lift your spirits this winter that won’t put a strain on your pocket-book! Because I’m sure the holiday season is costing you a pretty penny already 😉

  1. Brighten up your environment. Open up your shades during the day, and let as much natural light into your space as possible. If your desk at work does not get any direct sunlight, or if you don’t have access to a window, then on your lunch break sit by the window, or find ways to get to window through out your day. For example, on your way to the bathroom, or to a meeting, take a route that passes by areas that are well-lit with natural light. OR if all else fails, leave the office for lunch, go out for coffee, and get outside! Even though it may be cold and a little uninviting, you will feel so much better after getting a brief amount of fresh air and sunlight, trust me!
  2. Watch your diet. During this time of year, and well, winter in general, we tend to gravitate towards “comfort foods.” These types of foods are high in fat, and high in sugar. The reason why these foods are considered “comfort foods” is because not only do they taste awesome, the high amounts of carbohydrates provide temporary feelings of euphoria, and the high fat content gives you a sense of satiety or a satisfying feeling of fullness. Or, if you’ve had too much, you may feel a little sick or “stuffed.” I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have some holiday food here and there, but do not go overboard! It is so hard to keep yourself from overeating at this time of year! And sure, these comfort foods taste great, and feel great going down, that feeling is only temporary! If you want to feel great for a longer period of time, feed your body with nutrient dense foods! Sure, pie tastes great, but it doesn’t look great, and it doesn’t feel great if you’ve had too much. Also, if you overeat these comfort foods, you basically put yourself in a food coma, which makes it very difficult for you to be motivated to do anything else but lie on the couch. Not only will you feel “fat,” and “gross,” you will lower your energy levels, and lower your overall mood. So, my advice is to eat as healthy as possible, and keep the Christmas treats to a minimum!
  3. Exercise! I’ve written an article in the past about the effects of exercise on your mental health called How Fitness Continues to be a Beacon of Hope for Me . It talks about how fitness has helped me overcome times when I’ve felt very unhappy with how my life was going, and it can most definitely help you! Exercise, especially doing cardiovascular exercises can help you naturally create “happy chemicals” in your brain called endorphins. Actually exercise can be as powerful as taking an anti-depressant! Also, doing interval style training can help alleviate stress and anxiety. So, if this time of year has you feeling really stressed out and anxious? Then take a spin class, or do some interval training on some of the cardio equipment in the gym. Either way, you should get your body moving this time of year, especially when all you want to do is hibernate. Hibernating, and hiding from the world will only isolate you more, and have you feeling the blues even more so.
  4. Turn up the volume of your favorite music! Ever notice how Christmas music is always happy, hopeful, and cheerful? I don’t know about you, but I love to play Christmas music at this time of year. Not only does it get me into the Christmas spirit, it really does lift my mood. I just can’t help but feel happy when I listen to it. Especially when I’m doing Christmas things, like baking, or decorating the tree. However. I know that many people find Christmas music to be a little annoying, especially because it literally plays in every store, and almost every coffee shop that you walk into. So, if Christmas music doesn’t make you happy, play the type of music that does. Music has a tremendous ability to really affect people in a positive way!
  5. Volunteer, and help others! There is no better time, then the holiday season to give back to your community! Volunteering your time and helping out others really does feel good, and it can help you get a sense of purpose. When things seem so dark and lonely, it’s a good idea to reach out and give a helping hand. It may help you to realize you are not alone, things are not as dark as they seem, and you can really make a difference in someone’s life. It is so positive to be able to give back in some way to your community. Not only is it positive for the people who directly benefit from the work you’ve done, but for you as well. Everyone wants to feel like their lives mean something, and that they are needed in some way.

These are all my suggestions for helping you overcome those winter blues. Heck! You can apply all of these things to your life in general, and I can guarantee a higher quality of life! Go outside, get some more sunlight in your life! Eat well, and exercise! This will help you feel better both mentally and physically. You will have more energy throughout the day, and you will be a better version of yourself to conquer whatever life throws at you! Listen to music (that’s if you enjoy music) and dance, sing, do whatever makes you happy! I literally dance everyday and some point, music makes me so happy 🙂 And last but not least, give back! I know we all live busy lives, but it really does make you feel good from the inside out to be able to do something genuinely nice for someone for no reason other than it was a good thing to do. Merry Christmas guys! Don’t let the winter darkness get you down!

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Glade doesn’t necessarily make me feel joy but spending time with the people I love the most does ❤ Me and my bestie at the Toronto Christmas Market November 27th, 2016 


Day 1 of The Twelve Days of Fitmas: Focus more on what you have than what you lack

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! This is my favorite time of year! I love the Christmas season, and what a better time to help others then now? This is why, I decided to do the Twelve Days of Fitmas series again this year. It is my passion to help people better themselves through fitness and health, and so here I am addressing some of the questions that I’ve been getting a lot concerning fitness, and health, as well as general concerns that have been brought to my attention. I’ve decided to start the 12 Days of Fitmas with an article about focusing on the positives in your life rather than the negatives. For some reason, especially at Christmas time, even though it can be a very happy and generous time of year, it can sometimes be a time where people really take note of what is missing in their lives, rather than all the positive things that they have going on for them. This usually stems from some sort of comparison between you and the people you know. It’s a negative habit that I’m sure we have all been guilty of at some point or another, and sometimes, no matter how happy we may think we are, we cannot help but think about whether or not the grass is greener on the other side.

I cannot lie and say that I have never felt a little sorry for myself during Christmas because I didn’t have the things that I felt I deserved, or because I wasn’t where I thought I should be and so on, and so forth. I think a majority of us can maybe admit to this. It’s sad really, but I think there’s several reasons why this happens during this time of year. First of all, it’s the last month of the year, and a lot of us are reflecting upon the year past, and evaluating whether or not we had a “good year” or a “bad year,” and then making resolutions for the upcoming year. Self-reflection can be a very positive thing! However, it is only positive if you are only focusing on yourself. What you have accomplished? What you would like to do in the future? And where you should focus your energy in order to be the most happy? It becomes negative when you start to compare what you have done to the accomplishments of others. It is not productive to look to your peers as a way of measuring your own success! Believe me, I’ve been there, and honestly you don’t get anywhere with it. All you end up doing is overwhelming yourself with this feeling of being left behind. Once you get it in your head, that everyone seems to be doing better than you, or seems to be further along in life than you, all you can think about is what is missing, and not how to achieve the things you want. Sometimes external motivators can work, and seeing your peers work hard and do well, can motivate you to do the same. However, generally most of us don’t see the hard work that goes behind all of our peer’s success. Instead we see the edited Instagram, and Facebook posts of their success and it all just seems so easy. So, why don’t I have the same? And that is where the problem lies! It is so easy for us to forget how far our friend’s, or especially distant acquaintances, have come when we start to compare our lives to theirs. All we tend to see is the end result, and then we look at ourselves and wonder, why we don’t have the same?

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You will never be successful, or happy if you constantly compare your life and accomplishments to others’. First of all you need to appreciate where you are in your life, and understand why things are the way they are. There will always be someone who may be taller, thinner, prettier, wealthier, and so on. And there will be people who are in far worse circumstances than you. At the end of the day, none of these things will help you become a better and happier person. The only way you can be the best and happiest person that you can be, is by focusing on the positive things that you have in your life, or what I like to call your strengths, and growing those things. As for the things that no longer make you happy? Well, you need to take responsibility for the things that are no longer making you happy, whether it be your job, your body image, your health, your relationships, whatever it may be, and then begin to take the steps to making positive changes in the areas that make you the most unhappy. A lot of the time, it means getting rid of those things that make you most unhappy, and using your strengths to help you build a new you, or a new career, or better relationships with people who add value to your life.

Going online, flipping through Facebook and Instagram posts, and wondering why you don’t compare will only bring you deeper into a negative space. It will unmotivate you, and have you feeling inadequate, and insignificant. Christmas is a time of year where the online posts are rampant, people tend to over share during this time of year. This is why I have decided to write this as my first piece during the 12 Days of Fitmas. Take this time to focus on the people, and things that make you happy. Life is too short to constantly worry about what you don’t have. Focus on what you do have, it is powerful. You are much more powerful than you think. It is so easy for us to build up our friends, but we are the first person to cut ourselves down. Take some of your own advice my friends! Know that you are capable of great things, and even though 2016 is coming to an end 2017 is a new beginning with so many possibilities! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays! I hope this helps you during this time of year to be positive and fair to yourself. Your life isn’t over, and it is never too late to make a change for the better 🙂

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My Parents, my best friend and I at the Toronto Christmas Market November 20th, 2016


Merry Fitmas! Day 2:Holiday Eating

Merry Fitmas Everyone! So today I’m addressing the question of what do I do during the holidays? How do I keep myself from completely derailing from my goals? Well, here are some of my tips for staying on track with your diet and goals during the holidays, but before I start, I am completely aware that dieting at all during this time of year is extremely difficult, and I know that the majority of people will not be able to avoid all the Christmas fare for the entire month of December. So, that being said, these tips are tips on how to keep the damage as low as possible. It is not IMPOSSIBLE to diet during Christmas but for most people it’s close enough LOL

Tip Number 1: YOU DON’T HAVE TO EAT EVERYTHING!!!

Just because there are 50 dessert options doesn’t mean you need to try every single one! Same with appetizers!! If you know there’s going to be a large meal, then skip the apps, and just eat the main course. Choose your battles guys! You don’t need to eat, anything, and everything that is available at any of your Christmas functions. Pick your favorites, enjoy them, and that’s it. Pick one dessert, if you’re having apps, don’t go nuts! It’s so easy to get carried away with the appetizers, that by the time the meal happens, you’re full. Avoid the cheese platter, or any cheese apps. Why? Cheese is high in fat, and therefore, high in calories. You can rack up your calories pretty high with the cheese platter alone before you even start with Christmas dinner! So again, one dessert, be modest with the apps, and for dinner? Have the protein, have the veggies, and be careful with the starchy carbs and the gravy! Starchy carbs will put you to bed, and the gravy is high in fat, and high in calories!

Tip Number 2: PLAN AHEAD AND USE MY FITNESS PAL!

Most people have very strong traditions that they keep during the Christmas holidays, and because of this, most people know generally what they’re eating and when. If this is the case, and you know what Christmas parties, dinners, and other social gatherings that you have planned, then you can plan your meals around them. Just because it’s the holiday season, does not mean that everything goes out the window, and you lose complete track of how much you’re eating. If you know you’re going to a party, or a Christmas dinner, and you want to enjoy some alcohol, or have dessert, then save calories for it. Plan your whole day of meals around this function so that you can enjoy yourself, with less worry about how the pie you want to eat will make you fat! The Holidays are meant to be enjoyed, yes, 100%! But if you want to stay on track with your goals, you need to plan ahead to be successful. MyFitnessPal is a great tool! Use it! Record all your meals in it including your holiday dinners, keep track of your macro-nutrients. This will help you stay on track with your goals, and it will help you plan your meals ahead of time so that you can fit your Christmas meal into your diet, or at the very least it will hold you accountable. It should keep you from veering too far off track.

Tip Number 3: WORKOUT!!!!

Most of us have some extra free time during the holidays. We take some time off, shorter hours at the office, whatever. Yes, take some time to relax and unwind, but there is no better stress relief, energy booster, calorie burner, mood booster… I can go on LOL than EXERCISE!!! So do it! Take advantage of the time you have and workout! I always plan my workouts around major holiday meals haha. I’m so used to getting up early, that, this past Thanksgiving holiday I did fasted cardio while everyone was asleep, and when I came home I enjoyed the traditional family breakfast. I mean, what else was I going to do? Wait for everyone to get up so I could eat? Then, once the turkey for Thanksgiving was in the oven, I went and did my back workout. By the time I got home, dinner was ready, and Thanksgiving dinner turned into post-workout gains! Everybody wins! The holidays can be a great opportunity for off-season muscle growth if done properly…What I mean is, don’t think that because you want to grow, it’s an excuse to eat everything in site LOL Plan your workouts around your holiday meals, so that the meals you do eat, feed your depleted muscles, which will help them repair, and grow. Also, if you’re worried about your waistline growing this holiday season, then keep up your workouts!! It will lower the possible collateral damage so to speak!

And that’s it folks! These are my top 3 tips for Holiday eating: don’r eat everything you see, plan your meals ahead or time, and save calories for big parties and dinners, and workout! This will help keep you from completely falling off course . Merry Fitmas guys! And stay tuned for more posts!!

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Me, my sister Maryanne and all our Giunta cousins that came to Sabrina’s Confirmation Brunch this past Sunday December 6th 2015