The Leap holiday challenge

By Ryan Howes | Nov 29, 2017

With Thanksgiving behind us, we commence a symphony of snowy holidays that aim to idealize culture, family, joy, love, unity and spirit. There is so much to be grateful for, but a maelstrom of emotions could lower your spirit, sense of joy and family connectedness. My aim is to help you integrate some healthy daily practices that will support your overall health this holiday season.

“The past is history, The future is a mystery, This moment is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.” I stood transfixed, repeating this quote dozens of times before entering a soon-to-be friend’s home in Austin, Texas. It was written on a weathered plank in Kokonor type font and hung on the owner’s courtyard gate. This timeless quote has guided my way of living: what matters most is right now, and a daily practice is what is missing for most Americans.

Just before Thanksgiving I posted a YouTube video titled: “Mindfulness-Exercise-Nutrition and LIVE.” The video shares my daily practices with the intention to help others create their own. Why? Because we can all benefit from being healthier and health needs to be a priority. These practices will facilitate less stress over the holiday season and in general. You will be nourishing your mind, body, spirit, heart and belly. I encourage you to watch the video and establish a version of daily practices that works for your unique person and lifestyle.

Here’s the video breakdown –

Mindfulness. Upon waking, write your thoughts in a journal. This present-moment activity allows your subconscious mind to share. This state of mind is active upon waking; it’s where dreams are formed, and nearly impossible to access otherwise. The human brain has approximately 70,000 thoughts per day and 97 percent of those are conscious thoughts. Journaling subconscious thoughts is a perfect way to connect to a higher intelligence, to allow spirit to guide your emotions and feelings in a positive and productive trajectory. Try writing down the following:

1. What am I grateful for?

2. Self-affirmations

3. Daily intentions

The second mindfulness practice is an extension of journaling and it’s something I shared last week – meditation – which could be thought of as mind training. This present-moment activity places emphasis on connecting to conscious breathing. Last week I asked you to identify what thoughts came to you during meditation and to leap into action by addressing them, rather then discarding them as unimportant. Conscious breathing is the vehicle to carry those thoughts into action, as well as remove them from your fast-paced racecar mindset. Breath equals peace of mind. It also lowers blood pressure and heart rate, due to an activated neurochemical called acetylcholine that surges through the body. Thank you, lungs!

Physical activity, movement or exercise, no matter what you call it, your body needs more. Move and experience the endorphin rush that helps you stay happy, sleep better at night and burn fat. In the video, I’m not working out in a gym, although I do sometimes. I am in the comfort of my own home performing a variety of functional movements, core movements and intervals, followed by stretching. Fifteen minutes later, I am both sweaty and feeling fantastic. Our bodies were meant to move in a variety of ways. Find a way that works best for you and incorporate it into your lifestyle.

“Abs are made in the kitchen.” I love this quote. What we eat directly correlates to how we feel and what we look like. A delicious self-prepared breakfast of whole foods is a way of saying yes to your health. Healthy food strengthens the immune system and improves blood quality, which builds new cells, tissues, nails, hair, etc. Did you know that food has energy? Think of what food you’re eating and the energy it contains. Since the holiday season can be more stressful than other times of year, would you rather be eating processed foods made by machines, packaged in plastic and shipped to a grocery store or convenience store? Or would you rather nourish your body with some grounding root vegetables from a garden? Would you rather have your blood sugar rise and plummet from eating a Garfield-size piece of pie, or could you limit the serving size and keep a more balanced sense of energy?

My morning practices are just a snippet of what you could bring into the fold this holiday season. I recommend waking up and writing, meditating, moving and eating well. These practices work well for me, but may not be bio-individually suitable for you, so feel free to adjust them to fit your needs.

The holidays are filled with many blessings, regardless of our circumstances. By sticking to a regimen of self-loving practices, you’ll be in the present-moment driver’s seat to feeling ready to start the day and to face any challenge, whether that be relatives or traffic.

This is my holiday challenge to you: watch the video and start practicing. Start tomorrow morning straight through the holiday season into New Year's. This powerful tool is the foundation to making a health transformation and to finding compassion and gratitude for yourself and others during a time of year when it’s needed most. Take the leap.

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