Thriving Holiday Gatherings

Thriving Holiday Gatherings

I was going to title this post Surviving Holiday Gatherings but I think that puts too negative of a spin on what should be some of the most important times of the year – Thanksgiving and Christmas. So I think it’s better to talk about how we can have Thriving Holiday Gatherings. I’ll keep this relatively short since I know everyone is probably running at a million miles an hour with the holidays approaching. So I jotted down 6 ways we can approach the holiday gatherings that many of us will be attending with a healthy approach on food and people allowing us to thrive, not just survive.

1. Focus on protein

I often joke with my wife about one season of The Bachelorette when this dude Chad was on the season. Every shot they always showed him eating all the meat they would provide for free, when they interviewed him he said something along the lines of it’s free protein so he’s gonna eat as much as possible. I kinda take the same approach to any type of gathering, just focus on eating as much protein provided as possible. It’s satiating and delicious and will keep you full enough to not be tempted by all the other things that may be on display. And when I do this my wife always jokes that I’m pulling a Chad.

2. Minimize carbs

Now if you’re eating a bunch of protein your plate should already be pretty full, but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat just a little of your Grandma’s sweet potato pie or some family tradition of mashed potatoes or something like that. If you limit yourself to just a little bit you’re gonna satisfy everyone and it’s still not that many carbs in the big picture. One little scoop is a lot different than a heaping pile of mashed potatoes and one slice of turkey. Bleh. Flip the script. Fill your plate with the protein and then squeeze in some starch on the side here or there.

3. Embrace conversation

Realize that the time you’re with the people at whatever gathering you may be at has a purpose. So often we can go through these types of family or friend gatherings and just “make” it through the conversations. Believe me, I’m an ISTJ so I’m not one for conversing, but that doesn’t make it right. We were made to be communal people. Try asking truly how others are doing, seek to understand them and what’s going on in their lives. So often these gatherings happen with people we only see for a few times a year, or maybe even less, so make the most of the time you have with the people you’re around. Maybe you needed to be there to ask how that person is doing or for you to grow in some way. I know it’s a weird concept in this day of constantly sharing and posting and projecting ourselves – try for a second to be about others and not yourself.

4. Fast from your phone

Now this one goes hand in hand with embracing conversation. This may sound crazy but try to go a whole gathering without using your phone. You’ll survive I promise. It will feel weird. You’ll get phantom vibrations but remember there was a time where we didn’t have phones to distract us. And that’s literally what the phones do when we’re at gatherings like this – they distract. Try to even put your phones in something like this locking cookie jar. Heck have everyone put their phones in it when they come in the door. That’ll be a conversation starter right there. Now I know what you’re thinking “what about taking pictures?!” – let’s be honest – how often do you go back and look at all those pictures, I know I rarely do. Work at building memories instead of just a ton of unused pictures. If you still want one picture just be super intentional at the end of the day to take one group photo or something.

5. Don’t talk about diet

Don’t be that guy (or girl) who all they literally talk about is how they’re paleo, primal, keto or vegan. We are all annoying. You may be super excited to talk about your diet and how well it’s working for you but I guarantee you that someone will be on some other diet or worst they’re self conscious because they’re not on any diet and they just want to enjoy all the food piled up on their plate. Inevitably all conversations about diet will then lead to arguments, and these gatherings have people from all walks of life so it’s bound to have a ton of different opinions collide when the topic of diet comes up. Save talking about diet for Instagram or with someone you see every single day and you run out of everything else to talk about. You don’t want to be remembered as the person who was talking abut gluten and lectins the whole time. You want to be remembered as the person who was humble, kind and caring – right?

6. Eat the dessert

The end of the day comes around and you’ve had great conversation. You’ve fasted from technology. You’ve eaten a ton of protein. But that pumpkin pie is still staring at you… guess what? Just eat it. Don’t let food control you. You control what you eat. And at the end of the day if you really want that sentimental piece of pumpkin pie or banana pudding just have a little bit. You won’t get unhealthy from one bite of pumpkin pie just as you can’t get healthy from one slice of grass fed rib eye. Eat responsibly and still enjoy yourself because one bite of something that will really satisfy you will be worth it. Just don’t eat the whole pie…

That’s it guys. Have a great Thanksgiving and Christmas. Hold the selfies, put the ’Gram away. Get your family, y’all hold hands and pray. Take care!

Slow Down

Slow Down

My daughter was about 8 months this time last year. Now she’s about 20 months (8+12 duh) with another baby due in February.

Our daughter was born April 16, 2014

18 months
This is our daughter at 18 months

Everyone said it – time flies so fast – and it really does. But no matter how many photos or videos I take to try to document our daughter’s life – life is still flying by. This time of year especially it really seems like time is flying by. Everyone’s moving at a million miles an hour during the Holidays of Thanksgiving to Christmas to New years. Year after year the cycle repeats itself and can, over time, create what was supposed to be a very enjoyable time to be a very unenjoyable time of year. So what are we to do? Slow down. I know you’ve probably heard this before, but sometimes people need to hear things repeatedly before they finally take action. Hopefully this is the last time you need to hear it before you actually take action: Slow Down. Below I’ve listed a few areas in our life that definitely need slowing down this time of year.

1. Slow down the phone

We all get too wrapped up in our phones. They’re almost like the worst thing and best thing that have happened to our generation (slight exaggeration here). Just look around the next time you’re at a restaurant or at some other public place – everyone is on their phone. Look around at the Christmas gatherings you’ll probably be attending – again, everyone on their phones. So the other day I decided to put down my phone and be very intentional of the time I had with my daughter. I didn’t try to get the perfect photo of my daughter, or try take a video of her kissing a piece of bacon. We actually went outside and all I did was sit there and watched her as she explored our backyard. Sure she ate not one but two handfuls of dirt from our garden, but it was fun to just hang out with her, let time slow down and not be on my phone obsessed with trying to capture that perfect moment of her to post on instafacetwitter. Now you may be saying well Randall I don’t have kids so I have nothing to do other than hang out on my phone and look at Instagram or play a super addicting game. But I challenge you to try to actually do nothing still. Just sit there. Go outside and do nothing. Get a bon fire going and just hang out, look at the stars, watch the birds, just sit. The only way to actually slow down, is to do just that – slow down.

2. Slow down the TV

Now sitting around watching Christmas movies is something I love to do with my wife, so I’m not suggesting to do away with the TV all together. I’m suggesting to just not let it be the only thing you do with your free time this Christmas season, because before you know it 4 hours flew by and all you did was watch Home Alone 1 & 2. Now what else could you do with that 4 hours? A lot of things actually:

  1. Go on a walk with your loved ones to look at Christmas lights.
  2. Sit around and play old school Words With Friends, aka Scrabble.
  3. Read Christmas stories.
  4. Take your kids to a park.
  5. Sing Christmas songs.

Just try to do something that’s outside of the norm, doesn’t include your tv, phone or computer, and creates new memories for you and your kids to remember.

3. Slow down the cooking

There’s a reason fast food is called fast food. Because it’s… fast. Food shouldn’t be fast. Food should always be slow and this time of year we really need to harness that. Instead of being wrapped up on buying a million gifts that no one needs or trying to run around to different parties, how about you just stay home, order from Amazon and cook something slow. Look around for recipes that take all day to roast or maybe finally take the time to try out cooking that recipe you’ve been wanting to try like this one or this one, that you otherwise don’t have “time” to cook. And do this activity with a loved one or your kids. Make these really good cookies with your kids instead of just buying a box of fast made wheat and soy filled cookies from the store. Just make it fun and slow. Enjoy the extra time we have this time of year and really dive into the kitchen.

4. Slow down and sleep

Sleep is important. Not sure if you know that. We need 7–9 hours of sleep. It’s not really a suggestion, there’s good evidence showing that we need this much sleep. So what better time to actually practice this good habit other than Christmas and New Years break where we have a few extra days off, or maybe you (lucky) have 2 straight weeks off. Just be sure that if you’re still sucked into your phone and tv to wear blue blocking glasses or install f.lux on your computer so that you don’t throw off your circadian rhythm. I know it sounds hippy, but it’s a real thing. The more we keep looking at blue light when we’re trying to go to bed, the more we’re telling our brain it’s daytime when it’s actually 10pm.

Slowing down may look completely different for you and your family but these are just some ways I see my life being effected by not slowing down. If you have any other ideas on how you can slow down feel free to share them in the comments below. Thanks for reading, and Merry Christmas!