My first taste of volunteer work came when I was 12 years old. It was 1976, and McDonald’s restaurants were encouraging kids to host carnivals to raise funds for muscular dystrophy. Though I had little understanding of muscular dystrophy, I loved a backyard party. My philanthropic mother had planted a deep seed in me regarding helping others. “To whom much is given, much is expected” was our motto.
I received my carnival kit and recruited the neighborhood kids to help. We had a fortune teller, sno-cone table, games of chance and more, raising about $70. But the major payoff was that I fell in love with good causes.
Since then, I’ve volunteered as a swim buddy for kids with spina bifida and worked with various organizations that focus on environmental issues, homelessness, poverty and AIDS. These days, I volunteer weekly at a soup kitchen, washing dishes and passing out fruit (when we have enough) to the down-on-their-luck men and women who come inside for soup and community. I also chair an eco-committee at my kids’ school. And though it seems counter-intuitive — after all, I’m a busy mom of three — I find myself with more energy to tackle my other commitments.
Holiday fun can wear you down — eating, drinking and festivities can take their toll on you mentally and physically. While a workout may seem like the last thing you have the time or energy for, it can enliven your spirit and alleviate stress. Think you have to choose between fitness and fun? Not so! Incorporate elements of the holiday season into your workout routine and you’ll add variety and interest and increase your motivation and enjoyment. Here are some ideas to help you put the holiday spirit into your workout:
Planning and scheduling time with those you love is obviously crucial to maintaining a healthy and happy relationship. We are all so busy these days that it’s always a good idea to schedule time to reconnect.
If you’re like most people, your dates/special times are based on “calories consumed,” whether that means eating at a new restaurant, getting snacks at a movie, meeting for a fancy coffee or a glass of wine after work. These things can be great ideas for spending time together but once in a while why not try looking at the opportunity to be with those you love a little differently?
Plan your time with loved ones based on “calories burned.” What I mean is to pick activities to do together that are focused on being active and expending calories.
Don’t get me wrong, Christmas is a great time of year. But as I’m recovering from the glut of presents, the copious amounts of cookies and sweets I’ve consumed, and the amount of credit card debt I’ve racked up buying gifts and decorations, I always resolve that I’ll offset my good fortune in the coming year by finding a few good causes to contribute to not just at the holidays, but throughout the year — when they need it the most.