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How to Choose Gratitude Over Stress This Holiday Season

via – Greatist.com

It seems as if the holiday season—that time-honored mixed bag of pleasure and pain—starts earlier and earlier each year, bringing with it a flood of emotional baggage many of us would prefer to leave behind. If you harbor memories of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or other holiday celebrations filled with disappointments and dread, you are not alone.

If you experience excessive anxiety and foreboding at the first sight of holiday paraphernalia in the department store, consider relaxing your expectations and shifting your mindset. These changes help make it possible to survive—and even thrive—during the stress-filled weeks from late November until early January.

Letting Go of Expectations

Stress During Holidays

photo via greatist.com

To release the grip of holiday stress, start by entertaining the notion that most of life’s disappointments wouldn’t be nearly as devastating if we kept our expectations more in line with reality. Think back to a time when something you were reluctant to do turned out to be not so terrible after all—that delicious moment when you thought to yourself: “That wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.” This revelation can bring a huge sigh of relief and remind us to hold expectations in check. Anytime we assume the worst, we set ourselves up to be miserable, even if the reality isn’t all that bad.

Similarly, it can help to be realistic about your chances for a holiday that’s filled with nothing but serenity and happiness (hint: The odds are pretty low). Have you already forgotten about last year’s holiday dinner where everything wasn’t what you had hoped it would be? Have you vowed that this year things will be different? Of course, this wishful thinking assumes you won’t be exhausted from cooking, cleaning, shopping, wrapping, and attending to all other holiday preparations.

Your holiday may not be everything you want it to be. By choosing not to set your expectations unrealistically low or high, but instead allowing events to unfold however they do, you can help to eliminate the pain of disappointment from your holiday season. Bonus points if you can cultivate a sense of humor and learn to laugh off all the missteps.

Shifting Your Mindset

Write in Journal

photo via greatist.com

Now that you’ve let go of expectations, it’s time to look at this holiday season through a different lens: pure, unadulterated gratitude. While it might take some effort to cultivate gratitude when stressors abound, it’s well worth it: Studies have shown that gratitude can reduce stress and anxiety, improve intimate relationships, and even promote physical health. A gratitude-filled approach to life has the potential to enhance your general well-being both this holiday season and all year long.

So what are some things to be grateful for? Well, for starters, how about any, or all, of the following:

  1. For family, even if certain relatives drive you absolutely wild with the desire to escape to another planet.
  2. For the awareness that you are not responsible for the bad behavior of others, even if they are related to you by blood.
  3. For those friends who love and support you no matter what—“through thick and thin,” as the old adage says.
  4. For the abundance of food set before you—knowing that people are starving in every corner of the world, while your plate is often overflowing.
  5. For the generosity of others who lead by example, whether by giving their time, money, or talent to lend a helping hand.
  6. For good health—possibly the most cherished gift of all; the one that can’t be bought, wrapped, or returned.
  7. For the wisdom of parents and grandparents, both present and deceased. Be grateful that even if you believe their mistakes wounded you in ways great or small, their intentions were, in most instances, well meaning, and who you are today is a result of their guidance and those struggles.
  8. For the knowledge that complete turkey dinners are available for purchase at the supermarket should yours suddenly go up in smoke.
  9. For the realization that something will inevitably go wrong, even under the best of circumstances, and that it is OK if it does. Look at the big picture and try to laugh it off.
  10. And lastly, be grateful that this day, dinner, or disaster will soon pass, and you can get back to your real life in January, the most boring, uneventful month of the year.

Each time you find yourself overwhelmed by stress, gently guide your focus back to one (or all) of the things for which you feel grateful. If it helps, write down your gratitudes on paper and display them prominently as a visual reminder of how you want to feel this holiday season. The more you practice this simple habit, the more you will start to notice a shift in your thinking, from fearful anxiety to the calm of the present moment. Wishing you a holiday season filled with gratitude, no matter what.

Suzanne Handler, M.Ed, is an author and the former director of mental health education services for Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network in Centennial, CO, where she was responsible for creating mental health curricula for classroom teachers, school counselors, parents, and the general public. She is the author of The Secrets They Kept: The True Story of a Mercy Killing That Shocked a Town and Shamed a Family. The views expressed herein are hers. To learn more about Handler, visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

And The Winner Is….

We recently held a Team AVAC “Champs Challenge” – a 4 week jump start to Fitness with 30 team members participating. The challenge was a success! We are excited to announce that we will be rolling this challenge out to our AVAC members in early 2016!
Kelly Jones was the first place overall winner. Kelly really took the challenge seriously going above and beyond with her commitment. She lost 1.5% in body fat after 28 days! Kelly increased her overall TRX row by 7, bodyweight squats by 17 and knocked off over a minute on her rower time. That’s awesome! She also lost inches in her body composition, and took advantage of the daily journal in the Challenge Booklet to chart her food, mood, and fitness activities. Congratulations Kelly Jones, all that hard work paid off!

via – Kelly Jones, Team AVAC

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Congratulations also to Gabby Tolentino and Sheena Dinga. Gabby Tolentino was a close third and won our overall usage award! She busted her butt with 33 workouts during the 28 day challenge and saw significant gains in her TRX row and body weight squat assessment. She also had decreases in her body composition measurements. Way to go Gabby!

Our final winner from the random raffle is Sheena Dinga. There were 10 participants who met the 12 workout requirement for the 28 day challenge. Shout out to everyone who was entered in the raffle who didn’t win prizes; Christy, Kristin, Chris, Andrew, Mira, Ryan Roderick, Brandie, Ashley and Scott. You all worked hard and are champions in our book!

An honorable mention goes out to Ashley Ingoglia who worked extremely hard over the last 28 days and gave Kelly a run for her money. She came in second overall. Nice Job, Ashley Venter Ingoglia.

Stay tuned for details on the upcoming 2016 Champs Challenge!

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AbsoluteFIT with Lydia | Turkey and Thankfulness

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a wonderful holiday!

Today’s post will be a brief one — my husband and kids are off of work and school, and I’m preparing to host a Thanksgiving feast featuring several old family recipes/methods (the gravy, the stuffing, the pecan pie), some traditions we’ve developed ourselves (my mashed potatoes, the husband’s awesome turkey, the Obligatory Total Afterthought Canned Green Beans), and of course, the capper: the season’s official first viewing of A Christmas Story, Thursday night.

No matter what your plans, be grateful for what you have, love your family and friends, and don’t use even an ounce of your precious energy worrying about calories — let one day be free of that tiresome crap, and just enjoy yourself. You can get back in the studio on Friday. Or, OK, Monday. Monday is soon enough. 🙂

—Lydia M. 

Behind the Scenes… AVAC® Members & Guests Get a Sneak Peek!

via -Mary Ann Smith, Team AVAC®

2On November 15, 38 AVAC members and guests carpooled to Levi Stadium.  None of us knew what to expect.  But we went on a Bye Week and had the entire parking lot free for us to get a more than great spot.

We knew that the Sunday Mercury News had two articles about the site of the Super Bowl 50.  One was about security issues.  We were given a taste of the tighter security procedures.  We didn’t experience the extended security but we did have to pass upscale procedures.  The other article was about the museum.  It was the last on the agenda before we left and I will add that we didn’t have enough time to see it thoroughly.7

We entered the escalator to go up to the entrance and once on the mezzanine we saw the Kezar Sports Bar and the awesome sight of the bowl.  We were taken to the seats on the 50 yard line and we were able to sit in those very comfortable seats.  After visiting several dining areas, we went to the Press area, visited a 22 seat glassed in box, a roof top garden where solar panels help the city of Santa Clara with power as well as the Stadium, had our photo taken on the field with a replica of the 49er Super Bowl trophy, the visiting team locker room, and the elite Mellon Dining Room.


Then on to the Museum with the life like statues of players of every era – Ronnie Lott, Joe Montana, Bill Walsh, Dwight Clark, Steve Young, Y.A. Tittle, John Henry Johnson, Joe Perry, Hugh McElhenny and more.  It was a memorable afternoon that was spent with, Sue, a wonderful docent and, Fred, who helped keep us in order.



We will have a Super Bowl party and wear the pins given to us with the emblem “50” because the Roman numeral for 50 is L and the powers to be said that most will think L will stand for loser.  We look forward to another gathering to watch the Super Bowl and think of the wonderful time we had together.

-Mary Ann Smith

Discover more AVAC® Wellness activities here


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AbsoluteFIT with Lydia |There’s No Place Like AbsoluteFIT For the Holidays!

via – Lydia M., AbsoluteFIT guru.

Put yourself first on your own gift list: give the gift of fitness!

            Put yourself first on your own gift list: give the gift of fitness!

With Thanksgiving only a week away, most people have probably already started thinking about their holiday gift lists — you have to, be, right? You get like a couple dozen reminders in your email every day, since pretty much every retailer you’ve ever bought anything from online is pinging you with “gift ideas” that may or may not make any sense as such … (whose stocking would a refrigerator water filter cartridge fit in, exactly??).

BUT! You should think first about giving yourself a gift: the gift of fitness!

There’s no better way to beat stress than a good workout — a little time in the AbsoluteFIT studio restores your good humor and natural charm (that’s just science!). Plus, with all the treats and peppermint mochas and stuffing coming at you from all sides, maybe you wanna burn a few extra calories right about now? Just bein real, here …

Don’t wait till January — do it today! [See Special below…]
Get a head start on improving your health, stay in fighting trim, and invest 45 minutes in yourself so you can have more to give to others. See you at AVAC.

—Lydia M. 

Why not share the gift of fitness with a friend?

black friday club special