Positively Midlife Podcast

The Midlife Holiday Pivot: Navigating Stress, Setting Boundaries, and Embracing Joy - Ep. 80

December 13, 2023 Tish & Ellen Season 2 Episode 80
Positively Midlife Podcast
The Midlife Holiday Pivot: Navigating Stress, Setting Boundaries, and Embracing Joy - Ep. 80
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Can the holiday season be less stressful and more fulfilling? Well, join us, your hosts Tish and Ellen, along with our guests, psychotherapist and life coach Lois Spence and nutrition coach Ashley Muse, as we tackle this question head-on! We bring to you a profound conversation dedicated to the midlife women amongst us, where we attempt to pivot traditional holiday traditions in favor of our own well-being. Expect to discover the art of setting personal boundaries and finding your authentic voice amidst the holiday chaos.

Ever felt the weight of the world on your shoulders as you try to pleasing everyone during the holidays? Well, you're not alone. We share our personal experiences and strategies for managing stress, setting boundaries, and prioritizing self-care during the festive season. We also delve into the often ignored topic of loneliness during the holiday season, and how to find joy in new experiences - be it volunteering or trying new hobbies.

But the holidays aren't all stress and despair. They're also about the joy of gift-giving and the thrill of new experiences. We'll help you navigate the expectations that come with gift-giving and even offer some unique ideas for thoughtful, budget-friendly gifts. And because we all know the holidays are a time for indulgence, we've roped in Ashley Muse to guide you in maintaining balance in your blood sugar for overall health throughout the season. 

So, whether you're tuning in from Melbourne, Australia, Reno, Nevada, or New Britain, Connecticut, we appreciate you and encourage you to share our podcast with your tribe - the more, the merrier!

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Website: www.thepositivelymidlifepodcast.com
Email: postivelymidlifepod@gmail.com

Speaker 1:

Hey Tish, do you ever feel like you've held the holidays together for your entire family, that you alone are personally responsible for everyone's happiness in your family?

Speaker 2:

Oh, yes, I mean, ellen, the holidays. I know it's this time of joy and love and fun and, let's face it, it also brings with it a lot of stress, because it's been our responsibility to make everybody happy.

Speaker 1:

It's true, sometimes I feel like I'm just getting through the holidays. So, you know, for far too long, women across the world, across the board, have carried the weight of the holidays on their shoulders, and I think it goes back to our mothers and grandmothers Tish, I can see, maybe even before that, but I know, pat and Sue, they were doing everything when we were young, but now, as we embrace midlife, I think it's time for transformation, some changes you know I love the word pivoting and reframing how we spend the holidays and really how we treat ourselves during the holidays. It's time, I'm going to say, put the stake in the ground to make the holidays fulfilling for us midlife ladies.

Speaker 2:

We're talking about reframing again and it's been like a theme of this whole 2023, right, but reframing the holidays, I agree. You know, I really started looking at some of the traditions that I've had that just don't work for me any longer, and I'm trying to rediscover what does work for me now. Right, there's a lot of letting go in this process for me, and so this is such a timely discussion for us right now at the holidays, right, ellen? So we have brought along two amazing guests to join us today to talk about making the holidays work for us at midlife.

Speaker 1:

Well, I am so excited to have Lois and Ashley join us today because, just like you and a lot of our listeners, I am in the midst of redefining some holiday things too, with my family and negotiating, and I can definitely use some help here. But before we meet our guests for the episode, you know I love this part of the show. Tish, what do you got for me? What's your obsession?

Speaker 2:

I've got a cute little thing. So you know I'm so much more about more than just a gift like that. The gift is an event type thing. So I have something really silly. Who doesn't like to roast marshmallows and make s'mores? So my obsession this week is this tiny little tabletop so you can roast your marshmallows on it. Little flame thing going on, you know, with the little gels and things. But it's so cute to make a tabletop s'more thing. So just think about having your girlfriends over or having you know family and then just going around there and there's just something about that that just I don't know who doesn't love it. So that's my obsession.

Speaker 1:

I think I'm going to buy one of those. I can, in California, use it even outdoors for part of the year as well. But who doesn't love s'more?

Speaker 2:

So what about you, Ellen? What is your obsession for this week?

Speaker 1:

Well, you know, our obsessions rarely collide and I think this is funny because these are our last obsessions of 2023. And mine is from Oprah's List. You know she has that list every year of her special great things and it's called the wonderful. It's a cross-body water bottle but it has room for your iPhone. Even if you have a Pro Max like me, that's like practically like having a tablet and your keys and some other things. I have a water bottle holder but it doesn't have room for any of those things and I've always been like somebody should design. Of course somebody should design one of these that holds a great water bottle like a hydro flask, and has room for other things in it. And it is so cute. It's deep purple and I will share it with you guys. But if you're out hiking and you really wish you had your phone or your keys or something else with you, your passport.

Speaker 2:

I love that because I think sometimes we go too big with the backpack, we go too small with you know, you know so. So this sounds like a good compromise, just to take the essentials along with you. So I like that. I'm going to definitely check that one out.

Speaker 1:

Can I just say before we move on I think it can hold a bottle of wine too.

Speaker 2:

So it might be good Whatever bottle you kind of need for that kind of day, right, is that kind?

Speaker 1:

of day. That's right.

Speaker 2:

I love it. Well, it is time for us to meet our two guests this week, and we have Lois Spence back with us on the podcast. We've had her before and Lois is a psychotherapist and life coach who is so passionate about empowering her clients to find their authentic voice, create boundaries to protect their peace. And we also have Ashley Muse, who is a nutrition coach, focusing on helping people feel better and live healthier lives. So welcome back to the podcast, lois. We're going to end. Welcome to the podcast, ashley, and we want each of you to share with our listeners something about yourself, your background, and I want to jump off with Lois first. So, lois, remind our listeners a little bit about yourself.

Speaker 3:

So it's awesome to be back. Thank you so much for inviting me, and especially around this topic. So I am a therapist in Issaacau, Washington, so just outside of Seattle. It's called Spence Counseling Alliance and this time of year is rife with people just stressed about being with family, concerned about boundaries, overworked. You know lots of traditions to uphold, Like you said, women holding up the traditions of the family. So a lot of my practice the past few months has been around this topic and honestly preparing a lot of people to get through the holidays with some level of grace and intact.

Speaker 2:

I love that and I think you know we're going to go into it more. But you do have a lot of Instagrams out there that talk about these topics of like, pre-planning this stuff, and I can't wait to get to those. But before we do, I want to talk to Ashley. Ashley, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Speaker 4:

Yes, so thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited. Like you mentioned, I am an integrative nutrition health coach. I am also based in Seattle area, but I work virtually, so I get to work with people all over the world, which is great, having, interestingly enough, a lot of East coasters, so, calculating the time change my session. But in my practice I really work with women, mainly to work on improving their relationship with food, improving their nutrition and eating habits. We work to balance hormones, to balance out gut health. We work on stress management, sleep. So it's really a holistic approach to health and really to just taking control back, you know, back over their health and prioritizing themselves, because, as we know, with women and moms it's so common to put their own needs and health on the back burner. So it's really about taking that control back and finding that confidence and just feeling really great in their bodies again.

Speaker 2:

Oh, I love that. I love that. I think you know, the more we learn about that and the more we hear about it. Hopefully, it empowers more and more women.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I agree so wholeheartedly. And, ashley, we are really looking forward to digging in with you, because so many things around the holidays really revolve around nutrition and food and self care and, I think, stress management, and I really am interested in this holistic approach. But let's jump right into the holidays first, here with this idea of people pleasers that we women are just many, many times people pleasers. I consider myself a recovering people pleaser, right, and we have all set up this dynamic that may not be working for us anymore at midlife. You know, can you share a little bit more about this, lois? I know we've talked about this part before.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, people pleasing. I mean it's, it's chronic with women and I it's not just with women, because I also work with high school girls, college girls and this is even with the younger generation. There's a little bit more focus around changing that with the younger generation, but we as women are socialized to make sure people feel good, to be nurturers, and at the expense of our own health, really our own mental health. So this really comes up during this time of year where there's so much extra that needs to be done in order to hold up the holidays for our families, and there have been so many studies done around men and women to, you know, to income, to busy working, you know jobs with families, that the women still do 75% of the household tasks. So there's, you know, there's quite a disparity, and that shows up in the holidays too. So I am encountering in my practice women who are people pleasers, who are recovering people pleasers, and I appreciate you saying that because I think a lot of us, most of us, especially our age, are still working on healing ourselves from being people pleasers. So this is where it really shows up this time of year and this is where I encourage women to really look at their you know output in managing the holidays and creating something special for everybody else except themselves. I mean a lot of women kind of dread the holidays. Yeah, there's so much extra.

Speaker 1:

I agree, and one thing I've learned in this later part this midlife is it's okay to say no. I think a lot of people, when you're invited to something, your first impulse is to be like, yes, what can I bring, and what can I bring right? Not just that I'm coming, but let me do something as well. And do you have any strategies around saying no, Lois, the holidays.

Speaker 3:

Just say no. And that's the thing. Like it's so easy for me to sit in my chair working with clients telling them well, all you have to do is this you just have to set the boundary, you have to say no. But here's the problem Our family's society is really still not quite used to us setting these firm boundaries, so we do at times have to be a little more where I say gentle around, setting boundaries where people are not taking offense, which is it's a shame that it kind of has to be like that. But I think boundaries for us around the holidays are a work in progress and I know with you, titian Ellen, you guys are the same stage of life as me, where our kids are older, so we really can look at these traditions and say what works for us, what doesn't work for us. I mean, ellen has a lot of silver tree and that seems to be working well.

Speaker 1:

It's working well for me. Maybe not as well for my kids, but you know, as I said, I can take it, I can put it up, I can take it down and I love it. It's so kitschy and, you know, it just makes me happy. I'm sitting here right now as we're recording, looking at this tiny silver tinsel tree, just with joy. It's bringing me joy. But I know that this is a lot at the expense of our mental health, and Ashley wanted to bring you in here to talk a little bit about how this can impact physical health during the holidays.

Speaker 4:

For sure. Yeah, and speaking of stress, you know I think stress really picks up during the holidays and you know, trying to please everybody, people, please everybody Christmas shopping, decorating, traveling, all of the things so stress really high ends, which causes so many negative, such negative impact on our bodies. It can really impact our hormones negatively. It can impact our gut health negatively, it impacts our sleep. So really managing stress is important. When people think of stress, we usually obviously connect it to the mental health, but just knowing how much it impacts us physically is really important. To have that awareness and I really am a big believer in having a why behind you know your goals and why you're creating healthy habits. And I think if you understand that that stress that's dialing up during the holidays is not only impacting you mentally but it's impacting you physically, then that might encourage somebody to prioritize more. You know stress management techniques and so on. So and I have plenty of those to talk about too If you want those, now or later, but it's Well, give us your best to stress management things.

Speaker 2:

What if somebody is like I am just absolutely at my wit's end, stressed out too much on my plate? What are your top two things that you're going to tell them to do?

Speaker 4:

So I would say top two. That's a great question. Top two number one would be and this seems like it wouldn't be doing too much for you but getting outside, getting into nature, into fresh air. People underestimate this one, but it is so beneficial for your health, for your mental health, for your physical health, even if it's just a five or 10 minute walk around the block, around your neighborhood. That fresh air is going to boost your endorphins, it's going to help balance blood sugar, it's going to help reduce stress and I've never met anyone who did not go outside and come back in and not feel better, especially these days more people working from home or you know, depending on what your situation is. We just need to get more out into nature and get that fresh air, and that kind of goes hand in hand with number two, but getting movement in. So you know I understand people don't have a lot of time during the holidays to get to the gym for a one hour workout, and you do not need to do a one hour workout moving your body in any kind of way you can. There's so many free workouts on YouTube. You can look up at 10 minute Pilates, yoga, stretching, strength training, workout whatever you find joy in doing, just moving your body. Again, that's going to get endorphins going, it's going to release serotonin, which is your happy hormone and chemical. It's going to do wonders for your mindset, for your energy and for your stress levels. So, moving your body, getting outside, you can pair the two. Go on a walk outside, you've done both, and your stress levels will come down.

Speaker 2:

So I love it. I love it. I know, I think this whole idea of people pleasing one, you've got to become aware what is driving this. And then then it's that you know setting up for boundaries, but so I think you know, kind of, on moving into another phase, of what can make the holiday so difficult for us. Right, I think a lot of us are going to be facing dealing with delicate family dynamics during the holidays, right, and I think this is what I've so loved about watching your Instagram post, lois that you talk about getting prepared getting prepared mentally, getting prepared with the words you want to use and so that you can respond calmly, quietly, so you're getting prepared for those tough questions. You know the aunt that says so. Are you going to get married again? Are you going to stay alone forever? I mean those triggering things that, like you know, why aren't your kids doing more? You know, but you know these things are coming because they come every time the family gets together, right? So I loved your Instagram post where you get people prepared. But can you share with us some of your tricks that can make this less stressful and to make sure that we can handle this better, these potential minefields, right. So what are some of your main strategies that you can share with our listeners?

Speaker 3:

So I actually have there about six strategies that you know. You can pick a few or pick all of them, but I think that the very first one that we need to remember is these people are our family, we know them well, we know what to expect. So when Aunt Judy comments on your appearance, she did it last year, she did it the year before, she's going to do it this year fully expected. So that's a situation where you, you can prepare for that, but you also there's a reframing that can happen around those questions. You expect it. Well, maybe we can laugh at it, laugh about the question, because it's you know, it's to be expected, right. So it's being, it's being realistic about those expectations. You're not going to show up and all of a sudden have, you know, a hallmark type holiday If you haven't heard, or you're not going to prepare. So, preparing and understanding that those dynamics are just, they're there and that that that's okay, and you prepare a response. If you need to prepare a response again, it can be funny. I heard somebody refer to humor this time of year as oxygenated grace. So such a clever way to yes because we can. I think we can handle these dynamics that are complex so much better if we can kind of see the humor in them. So set real expectation, realistic expectations, use, use humor, focus on gratitude. I mean, there's all. There's always something in each of our family members that we appreciate, so let's focus on that. You know all of these things about living with gratitude. The other thing is, as we go back to our families, understanding that while our families define as, to a certain degree, we also have differentiated ourselves by stepping into our own lives and building our own lives. So, reminding ourselves of that and trying not to fall back into those expected dynamics that you might even play yourself, that don't really work very well, like childhood dynamics that don't work well, planning ahead definitely planning ahead come up with responses to difficult questions and then I think the final thing is to really reflect what went well, what didn't go well, what you know, what do I change? Do I? Do I spend less time there next time? Do I still tell? Do I need more breaks? Do I need a more clear exit strategy? Do I need to pause more? You know, I think, Ellen, you had said or maybe it was Tash Tish about being reactive, like we get in this mode where we're a kid again and we want to react. But if we can pause, take a minute, we don't have to respond right away and respond with maybe some oxygenated grace.

Speaker 1:

I love that. I'm going to be using that all the time, and I really do like this idea of reflecting. Sometimes in business, we do this after something. You know it's like a huddle or a postmortem or whatever, where you can really really take the time to walk through it. My question here, though, is what if you do fall into this expected dynamic and you don't like where it went, what do you do to kind of forgive yourself? It seems like there needs to be some forgiveness. I know we said grace, but you know sometimes it's grace for other people, but what about? It's really hard for me to give myself that grace.

Speaker 3:

And I think that's a really important thing that you brought up and that also ties in with people pleasing and not giving ourselves enough grace and enough credit. And I think what we're looking for here with the holidays we're not looking for perfection. We're not looking for perfection in the way we show up. We're not looking for perfection in the way our family members show up. Maybe progress, maybe if we can see a little bit of progress in the way we interact with our families, but also giving ourselves grace. You know, speaking to ourselves the way we would speak to our friends. We did the best we could with what we have at that moment. It's okay.

Speaker 4:

Can I add something in there too? Yeah, so I have a client who we've been working together for a few years and she has lots of challenges around the holidays with getting together with family very different views and intensity and something that has really helped her is there's a couple of things journaling before going into that event or get together really helps her just focus and she journals around how she wants to feel and, like Lois mentioned, like having some responses ready because she knows what questions are going to be asked. She also takes some time to meditate, which I really think helps her just go into that situation with more of a calm mind. And then also you know we talk about you decide how much you want to share with your family members. You know she was asking me like, or she was talking about oh, I'm just nervous about what they're going to say, what they're going to ask me about my health situation and how much she has to tell them. And it's like you choose how much you share with your family members or who you're spending that time with and you don't have to overshare and you're not expected to, you know, volunteer your whole entire health story or life story or whatever that situation might be for you. So you know, share with who you trust and who you know is going to respond with love. But if you know people are not going to do that, you don't need to share that information I love that.

Speaker 2:

I think it really goes again back to that people pleasing that if somebody asks you a question you are obligated to provide all the details and no, you're not. And I like how you know you were saying like prepare of, you know what do you want to share and what don't you want to share, and giving yourself the permission that healthy permission to keep whatever you need private private. I love that. I love that mental health approach to things that you know that will probably come up.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and I think that ties in with safety. You know, do you feel safe? And you feel safe sharing something, that's great. But if you get that feeling in your chest, in your gut, you know you get a physical, you have a physical reaction. And often that's our first sign is you know, my chest is tight, my stomach hurts, ooh. And then stop telling you well, maybe this isn't the place to share, that I'm getting divorced, maybe you know I hold on to hold that a little close.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and the other thing you mentioned, ashley, was about journaling. We love the journaling thing, but to to, when you put it, your words or your thoughts down on paper, you're really sorting them out. And I like how you said you know what do you picture this event to be? You know, what are you, what do you want from it, and stuff like that. Yep, and maybe by by putting those words to it and not over it, like wanting it to be since grand again, that Hallmark moment or whatever. And just little things like to focus on those little joys. You know I want to spend time with the new baby and hear the baby coo and, and you know, enjoy stuff. But you know, aunt, you know Sue's recipe and maybe get her to share it with the family and, yeah, little wins.

Speaker 1:

I agree, little wins are big. But you know, we know when we journal tish, that we really can kind of set the stage, paint the picture. And I like this idea, ashley, of this intention, like if you're journaling and you're meditating, to kind of, to kind of bring that intention into the interaction with your family, right.

Speaker 4:

You're just kind of priming your mindset and mental space to go into that situation which is so helpful yeah.

Speaker 2:

You know what I really want to talk about. Next I want to talk about I think it's one of the biggest traditions of the holidays, right, and this is probably gift giving. I know, right, talk about anxiety for me. So I really want to talk about changing up gifting right, because I think for me it can be one of the most stressful aspects, especially at midlife. We're all about simplifying and focusing on what really matters and you know, I know Ellen and I have talked a lot about focusing more on experiences or handmade things as opposed to just lots of boxes under the tree of stuff that they really didn't need anyway, right, and I would like us to kind of unpack some of this. You know the emotional aspects of it, you know just the whole health around it. I always stress, you know, do I keep a couple gifts in case someone gifts me something and I wasn't prepared and like, is that insane? You know?

Speaker 1:

Okay, here's an insane thing too. I'm just gonna throw it out. I agree with a friend that we're not gonna give gifts for gonna do something together and have this experience, and then they come with a little something and I have nothing. It's the worst.

Speaker 2:

So, ashley, I want you to jump in on this one first. You know what are your clients talking to you about, the stresses regarding whether it's expense or what to get somebody. You know again, I think it's a little bit of people pleasing again, but do you have your clients talking to you about this?

Speaker 4:

Yeah. So I was just gonna say it ties right back in again to the people pleasing and I love how you mentioned kind of gifting more around experiences, travel, more of just the thoughtful, meaningful gifts. And, ellen, when you say it's so funny because that happens all the time where it's like you make an agreement or a pact to not buy a gift and then they show up with a gift, I think I know so many people that do that and I've had clients share that same story. But in that situation it's like that person thought of you or wanted to bring that to you for a reason, not because they expected something back, right, and we have to keep that in mind like, okay, this person just wanted to do this for me. They're not expecting a gift back and if they are, then maybe they're not the best friend or maybe they're better. But in terms of gift giving, I think again, it really varies from person to person. I think that's stressful for different reasons, but I think changing the expectations that you have for yourself, understanding that your family members, your loved ones, don't love you because of the gifts that you're buying them. They love you because of who you are, the time, the quality time that you're spending with them. And if you do have the budget and can't afford to buy a gift, as we were talking about earlier, the experiences, the thoughtful gifts, the handmade gifts I love, like the idea of Etsy. You're supporting small businesses, you're getting something, maybe that's customized, with somebody's name on it. There's so many things like under $20 that you can find on there that are thoughtful and custom. But in generalizing it, I think it's just about resetting those expectations that you have and understanding that people are not expecting you to buy everything on their wish list. And if you do have a kid who is making the entire slideshow and presentation of what they want for Christmas because I know that's happening out there maybe having that conversation with your kid, depending on what the circumstances, are. Like honey, we can't afford X, y and Z this year, but I'd love to do this with you. Or we're gonna bake cookies or create an experience that doesn't have to cost a lot of money.

Speaker 2:

So different situations will call for different things, but I like that honest, open approach to it, especially with really close family members to say, hey, this is a situation, so let's find some different things that we can really enjoy and enjoy that holiday.

Speaker 1:

That's not about Gifts that they won't remember what they got, even last year, realistic yeah, yeah I have to say Tish and I have both been single moms at different points in our lives. I think I was really motivated a lot by that to make sure that Christmas was just perfect. I know we haven't said the perfect word here yet, I don't think. But, lois, I know that there's something behind that too. There can be a charge behind gift giving and really almost feeling competitive with the other family of my children. So I think I brought a lot into it and it's been really tough for me to pull back on the gift giving with my adult children. That's why I've gone to experiences.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I think we do attach a lot of well, we can attach a lot of meaning to the size of the gift, the cost of the gift and really reframing what gifting means to us. And I do think conversations with your family ahead of time, setting expectations, picking a name for one person in your family or putting a cap on how much you're going to spend, is crucial. I mean, it all really honestly comes down to just open communication. Let's just talk and see what works well for everybody, and being open to pivoting this is completely different, and that's okay.

Speaker 2:

Now two years ago, I kind of led the way with this with my kids and I said I didn't want them to buy me anything. I said, but Christmas morning I had three of them here, not all four. I said Christmas morning I want us to go and do something. I have something planned and I need everyone just to go happily along. That is my gift, that is going to be your gift to me. And they, of course, they're like yeah, yeah, that sounds great Right, no price tag. And come Christmas morning they're like oh, I said, remember right. I know that yes there's no, there's no grumbling, there's no, I don't want to go. And we ended up going down into Charlotte and they have those motor scooters and Charlotte it looked like an abandoned town. There was nobody in downtown Charlotte. We had the streets and sidewalks basically to ourselves and we went around in our scooters and I had the Christmas lights on everyone's neck and, do you know, we just had the best time and that is probably the happiest memory from that year and that was my gift and that we went to do this and they had a blast. Once they got down there, there was a few grumbles about going, but when we got down there and I said, you know, this really is what it is about.

Speaker 1:

You know, this time together, the being silly, the, you know, enjoying an experience, and I know, alan, you're big for that family hike right, yes, yes, I mean I'm in California, so lucky and people say to me I can't believe your kids will do the Thanksgiving morning and Christmas morning hikes. But it really is such a great tradition and I love, ashley, how you said just getting outside and being in nature. You know, it really is a great way to start the day on both of those holidays and my kids it's like you know, not even a grumble. I mean it can't be before 10 am, but it's not a grumble.

Speaker 2:

Let's not get crazy there, right.

Speaker 1:

Let's not get crazy. All right, guys, let's move into kind of health and wellness around the holidays and I'm going to throw food and drink in here too. Ashley, and I know that you know, as I said earlier, for me and I think for a lot of people really trying to eat right, to be healthy, to have that self care, can you share with us? You know what's what's top of mind with people you're talking to.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, great questions. I'm just like where do we begin? I could talk about this forever, but where I really like to focus on with my clients, with myself, with just everybody that I share this information with, is really focusing on balancing your blood sugar. Balancing your blood sugar is so crucial for overall health and especially hormone health. So, you know, blood sugar, it's going to affect your energy, it's going to affect your cravings, your quality of sleep, your body composition, your mood. I mean, it just is crucial. So we can really work on balancing our blood sugar through different lifestyle strategies, but also with what we eat and what we put on our plate and, as you all know, during the holidays it's filled with temptation sugar very carb-heavy foods, more processed foods, desserts, alcohol and so on. So that is a recipe for blood sugar roller coaster blood sugar spikes and crashes. You're not going to be feeling good at all. So a couple of ways that we can balance blood sugar is number one by really trying to focus on building yourself a balanced plate. So you know and I like to put like little asterisks, like control, what you can control there's going to be situations where you're traveling or you're at a family member's house and maybe you can't have the balance that you'd hope for, but that's okay. But in general, if you can make a balanced plate, that's going to do wonders for your blood sugar levels. And when I say balanced plate, that just means that your plate is going to have a protein, a fiber you know a vegetable source some healthy fats and a complex carbohydrate that is going to keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day. You're going to feel satiated, you're going to have less cravings, so then you're less likely to reach for all the treats around you. So that would be number one. Number two is actually the order in which you eat. So studies found that eating your vegetable just even a few bites of your vegetable first at your meal, before anything else on your plate, has a significant impact on that overall blood sugar or glucose spike of that meal, which to me.

Speaker 2:

I have never heard this. Oh my gosh, this is like news. This is newsflash to me.

Speaker 4:

It's amazing because it's such an easy thing to implement into your life, but it has dramatic, you know, positive, dramatic positive impact on your health, on your blood sugar. So I could get into that in the whole other. I will stay on track for the purpose of this time. But so, if you know, just to kind of put that into perspective, if you sit down and you're going to eat the same meal let's say you have spaghetti on your plate, meatballs and broccoli If you eat the broccoli first, your blood sugar is going to stay stable throughout the meal and after the meal, if you ate a few bites of the pasta first, your blood sugar is going to spike. So just a simple trick of changing the order in which you eat can just make such a great difference on how you feel and how your body is digesting the foods. So those are a couple of you know tips when it comes to nutrition over the holidays.

Speaker 3:

And.

Speaker 4:

I would say you know, I really like to talk with my clients about mindset-wise. Just think about what you can add in. So so many times we're focused on what we shouldn't have, what we can't have, what we you know oh, I just ate a donut. I shouldn't have done that. I'm horrible. You know that negative self-talk. If you shift to a more positive, nourishing mindset and focus on what you can add into your day, it's going to do wonders for your mindset, for your body image, for the way you talk to yourself. And when you're traveling and you're in situations where you're not in your routines, having that, you know, kind of thought process can be helpful too. Can I add in more vegetables? Can I add in more water? Can I add in more movement? Can I add in my supplements? Things like that?

Speaker 1:

I really like that idea, ashley, of thinking about what you're doing right too right. I can take my supplements, I am drinking water, I am eating vegetables, rather than always looking at you know, looking at what you haven't done, because I think a lot of times, you know, we are not quite, as I don't want to say, off the program, as we may think we are right, but if you have that nourishing mindset, like you said, which I love, which is like how can you continue to nourish yourself with what you have at hand? I really think that that resonates with me so much, and eating my vegetable first will be the easiest change I'm going to make here in 2023. I mean, my God.

Speaker 4:

It also oh, I was just going to say it also goes wait, wait, tish.

Speaker 1:

It also goes to not eating the bread when they bring it at a restaurant.

Speaker 4:

First right you have to put that aside, and they do that for a reason. They do that for a reason because it's going to make your or increase your cravings, increase your appetite. They know what they're doing.

Speaker 2:

So I did have a question, and this is for both Lois and Ashley. A lot of people will be traveling in the car a lot. Okay, I want to know what your, each of you, what your top strategy is for eating in the car, what snack, what meal, what you know, because a lot of people will be in the car a long time and hitting all those fast food restaurants like what is like your top choice. So, lois, what about you Top?

Speaker 3:

choice for snacks in the car. Yeah, that's a good question and that's all about you know, preparing ahead of time and I think, like Ashley was saying, you know you want your plate to be balanced, so why not have snacks that bring some level of balance a good quality protein bar and apple? You know, get your macros covered and you know any way that you can not stop at those fast food restaurants. I mean, that just sounds awful. Long live fast food. Everybody in the car together. Oh, that's a big problem.

Speaker 1:

We've all been there.

Speaker 3:

It does go back to preparing, preparing it, planning ahead of time. I think that's key, Ashley. What do you think?

Speaker 4:

So I love chomps chompsix. I don't know if you've heard of those, but they're like the beef jerky sticks. Oh yeah yeah, grass fed grass finished, so higher quality. You can get a big box of those at Costco or Amazon or any grocery store. I love those super clean ingredients high in protein. I always suggest to all my clients just keep a box of those in your car, even not during the holidays for food emergencies, so you don't go through McDonald's, you just grab a chomps stick. So chomps sticks like Lois mentioned, protein bars, fruit, cutting up vegetables you can bring, like Costco has the little single guacamole cup things. Or like almond butter packs to go, peanut butter packs to go, things like that A lot of times. And it also depends who you're traveling with. So I have a lot of clients who they're not in control of where the stops are being made, so you're gonna end up being, you know, eating at a fast food restaurant. In that case, make the best option that you can. If there's a vegetable available, eat the vegetable first. That always helps. Can you get movement? I'm sure you'll be stopping at rest stops. My partner, tucker, and I were always that weird couple at rest stops, like doing squats outside the car, like doing leg swings, but just getting your blood flowing, things like that. But preparation is huge when it comes to road trips.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I know Tish is in her car a lot. She has a job that she drives a lot and those chomps sticks.

Speaker 2:

I think we've I'm looking at those chomps sticks. Oh yeah, I'm already on that one. Okay, I love that.

Speaker 4:

And also the Siete brand amazing, so they make like crackers, chips, a bunch of different things. They use avocado oil. They taste amazing, so I love that brand.

Speaker 1:

Yes, I think they're gluten free, because we I'm gluten free and I've noticed and they're all over Costco now, so it's not like you have to really go to a specialty store to get that brand. They have great, great things.

Speaker 2:

So good. Now I wanna bring up another topic. When we think about the holidays, right, we think about big family gatherings and big parties with lots of friends and stuff there. But you know what? That's not the case for everyone, right? And I think we need to address, you know, something that can be really tough during the holidays, which is loneliness, right, I know I'm on this chat with ladies from the area and it's called Next Chapter and one of the ladies had put out there that she didn't even want to decorate this year because her daughter had moved away, and it was like she had just given up on the holiday and I remember it just. It really touched me so deeply when I heard that and I reached out to her and I said you know, why don't you do like a video chat and decorate your tree with your daughter, have her send her a box cookies, or you all can decorate your trees together. I said, don't not have these moments and she said, you know she loved that idea because she really was just gonna give up on the holiday because her daughter wasn't there, and even though she has a partner and stuff, so, but it got me thinking about there's a lot of people that are gonna be lonely, and you know whether it's living far apart from family, or maybe the first year after losing a loved one or a post-worse. You know, it could be a lot of different things, but there is loneliness. So I wanted to talk a little bit about staying emotionally healthy during the holidays and what are some of the things that you think we can do if you're one of those people in that situation.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's a really big one and I think I love your suggestion that you gave your friend. I mean, you showed her how to pivot right, that was a great suggestion. But yeah, look, and this is another thing that is coming up for me with clients is loneliness just general loneliness, and it's not just loneliness because you're alone, it's loneliness because you are, you know, maybe not happy in your marriage or you have a really toxic family. So I think, with loneliness, I think the first thing to remember is when we think about when, tish, when you talk about the big holiday with lots of people, and there is some of that, but there are a lot of people who are doing the holidays alone. So you're not and again it's like a reframing You're not alone in your loneliness, right? Not that that makes it any less painful, but there are so many people like that who are having the holidays alone. And there are things you can do. I mean, first of all, you should be taking really good care of yourself, some really good self-care. You know, if Christmas is your holiday, have a lovely bath, you know, light some candles, have a cocktail or a glass of wine. So really taking good care of yourself, loving yourself. But also you know there are options to volunteer. If you need with other people, you can volunteer, or if there are friends that you can join, although I know, when we were talking about this earlier before the podcast, that, ellen, you were saying that one of your friends didn't necessarily want to go be with other people. That was highlighting the fact that she didn't have her own people. So I do think there are ways around it. But then the other thing is loneliness. It is painful, it doesn't feel good, but we also sometimes do have to sit in it and just experience loneliness. You know, some of it is being resilient to those emotions.

Speaker 1:

And I like, lois, what you said. I mean I've been in a bad marriage and been the loneliest around a lot of people, so it's loneliness is not always something that is a solitary thing, and I think that's a good thing for folks to remember too right that it's, and sitting in it can be hard, hard, hard, but a path forward.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, definitely Ashley, I'm thinking back to your journaling moments and stuff like that. But do you hear your clients, Ashley, talking about their concerns with loneliness during the holiday?

Speaker 4:

For sure. Yeah, it's a very common feeling for many women and we try to brainstorm ways. I like to ask them, like what are some things you can do to fill your cup, or what are some new hobbies that you can try to incorporate? Are there family members or friends, maybe, who you can FaceTime or get on Zoom with or get on the phone with and just have that sort of connection, whatever feels comfortable for them? But I really think, whether it's through journaling or just thinking about it, thinking of what can bring joy into your life like you mentioned Tish, your friend who didn't want to decorate because her daughter moved away, but I'm sure the decorations would bring her lots of joy. So that is probably just a little bit of more of a perspective change, and that doesn't mean you need to go all out the decorations, but just putting a few lights up or doing whatever makes that person happy is going to be really important, and I'm a big believer in like whether it's during the holidays or not like romanticizing things. So I had a client who went through a pretty rough breakup and she was having a really hard time being alone in her apartment. I was like you know, try to romanticize your dinner. It's like light a candle, play a podcast, like get some cute silverware or dishware and things like that, or play some Italian music. You know, try making a new recipe. Just whatever you can do to make things more enjoyable and more fun. It can make such a big difference.

Speaker 2:

I love those suggestions. I just love that. That's awesome.

Speaker 1:

Me too, and I think romanticizing yourself right is also something that can happen to New Year's Eve, which I know is also another holiday, like you know. Once we get passed onto New Year's, that can feel really lonely for people as well.

Speaker 2:

The expectations around New Year's Eve. Woo, wow, yeah, mm-hmm.

Speaker 1:

All right.

Speaker 2:

Well, so let's talk a little bit. Let's just talk a minute or two about New Year's. Do you see a difference? Did you see people struggle more with New Year's or more with the? You know the Hanukkah and the Christmas. You know which kind of? Or is it equal?

Speaker 3:

I think that people struggle more with holidays that are more of a family holiday, like Christmas or Hanukkah, and honestly, I think in my stage of life, in midlife, I think a lot of people are just kind of done with New Year's. I mean, that's late, it's past my bedtime, it's like a few hours from bedtime, but I do think New Year's is definitely overrated, just like I think these resolutions are overrated. I'm probably not a great idea, but I do think there's less opportunity for that more existential loneliness over New Year's than Christmas or Hanukkah, which is much more family-friendly.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I know what everyone thinks of, New Year's is like the date night. For me it's so funny. You know what New Year's was to me. My parents would always get real dressed up and go out and I remember spending New Year's with my grandmother and we had to have money in our hands because then you'd have money all year long and we would clink and bang on pots and pans on the porch and she made us eat pickled herring. That's New Year's to me Money in the hand, banging on pots, eating pickled herring. I didn't like it that. I don't like it now, but those are golden memories for me.

Speaker 1:

You know what Tish? It must have been an upstate New York thing, because I was always with my grandparents in Syracuse, you were with yours in Buffalo and we did bang pots and pans.

Speaker 2:

I don't know.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I'm not sure we didn't have the money to take us into the New Year, but I do like that. So you know what? I think it's time for us to wrap up this episode and I think we've covered four or five really great topics and really gone over some ways. We can all connect with ourselves and connect with others, hold our boundaries right and really change what we're doing at midlife, really establish new traditions and new boundaries around our midlife holidays.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think you know it's a wonderful reminder, ellen, you know, to be proactive, not to just sit back and feel sad and sorry for yourself, but really, like, take charge of reimagining, reframing what these holidays are and whatnot. And I can't tell you, ashley and Lois, thank you so much for being here. I was wondering if I could slip in just a little question, and Ashley Lois knows this question, but we're going to start with you, ashley, if you could tell people what your superpower is, what would your superpower be?

Speaker 4:

Oh, that's a great question. I would say, honestly, listening, like genuinely listening, I think you know, these days it's hard to find people to listen, to slow down, and I thought, lois, obviously this is probably one of her superpowers too. But to ask questions, to listen, to be curious about, you know, whether I'm doing that with my clients or my friends or my family members, it's so special to be able to experience life with all of the people that we're experiencing life with at the same time, and so being able to sit down, take the time and listen to their stories and what they have to say. I would say that's it.

Speaker 2:

Oh, I love that and I think it's a holiday. I think everyone should like adopt that superpower at their next family gathering Listen, yes, and ask questions before some of these relatives are gone.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, be curious, be curious.

Speaker 2:

Lois, lois. What are you going to claim is your superpower du jour.

Speaker 3:

It's similar to Ashley's and in fact I was having a conversation with a client about this today, about actually somebody who is starting to date and doesn't know how to start conversations in dating, and I was saying if you are genuinely curious about people and you can ask the deeper questions that get underneath, like the many underneath, many layered questions, that's going to make your dating experience much more powerful and interesting. So I would say that is my superpower is asking the right question that kind of gets to the nuggets and gets to the essence of who people are, because that's more interesting to me honestly. You know the deep end stuff.

Speaker 1:

Right, right, I love it. There's a great book.

Speaker 4:

There's a great book called Ask. I think it's just ask. It's a really easy read and I wish I could remember the author. But I could send it to you guys if you want. But you know, in line with all that, it's really great about how to ask the right questions and yeah.

Speaker 2:

Oh, I love that. I love that Awesome, thank you.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I just wanted to say, you know, I heard boundaries, I heard the words grace, which you know, tish and I. I think that has to be our word of the year and I loved hearing that pivot self care, self love. Ashley, you said this. I thought it was so profound Fill your cup. How can you fill your cup around the holidays? Right? And I think that that's a really great thing. I think we've covered so many great strategies and ideas for people to really have a healthy holiday here in 2023. And this is our last episode of the year, so I'd have to say we are honored to have both of you with us.

Speaker 2:

Yeah thank you, it's wonderful.

Speaker 3:

It's wonderful to be here again.

Speaker 2:

Thanks so much and you know to our listeners we've covered some. You know key areas and you know, going deep into these holidays, right, and going into 2024, that that we know they're going to be helpful for you, right. And I want to give a shout out to some of our listeners, you know, just to recognize that we see you, we can see where our listeners are coming to us from, right, and so I want to give a shout out to Melbourne, australia, reno, nevada and New Britain, connecticut. Okay, that's just some of them and we love having you as part of our tribe and please continue to share our podcast with your own tribes. So stay tuned till next time as we continue our journey of embracing life's adventure at every age.

Speaker 1:

That's right. Stay positive, stay strong, keep discovering. Visit us at PositivelyMidlifePodcastcom. Until next time, till 2024, midlifers.

Reframing the Holidays
Navigating Holiday Stress and Family Dynamics
Navigating Holiday Stress and Gift Giving
Gift Giving and Healthy Holiday Tips
Addressing Loneliness During the Holidays
Appreciation for Listeners and Holiday Coverage