5 Holiday Weight Loss Tips & Their Reality Checks

Do you find it almost impossible to stay conscious and contentious about weight and nutrition during the holidays? Of course you do. More than half of all Americans are overweight: You’re not alone.

A new government study might give you a ray of hope though: The study shows that Americans gain only about one pound over the holidays. The study found that people participating were influenced by two main factors over the holidays: The level of their hunger, and the level of their activity. In other words: Those who reported being less active or more hungry during the holidays had the greatest weight gain.

So common sense says: If you can stay focused on dealing with just those two things, you’ll probably win your personal holiday weight loss battle. At the very least, you’ll win by not adding more weight to what’s already waiting to be shed.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of weight gain,” says Dr. Samuel Klein, the Director of the Center for Human Nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. “Preventing the increase in weight is a lot easier and better than actually gaining weight and then trying to get it off again.”

So the answer seems simple: Eat less and exercise more. The reality of implementation of course, is far more difficult.

The good news is that most of the people overestimate how much weight they’d gained over the holidays. Fewer than 10% gain 5 pounds or more.

The bad news is: The small amount of weight gained is never lost. One pound of weight gain is quite a small amount, but since it’s not usually lost again: The weight adds up over time – to obesity.

Now we all know there are tons of tips out and about this time of year, designed to help us keep from putting on that extra pound or two during the holidays. Unfortunately what’s usually not talked about is: The reality of day-to-day holiday stress and situations. Let’s explore the tips… along with their reality checks… in depth:

Weight Loss Tip 1: Stay active. The best thing you can do is try to stick to your normal schedule and routine.

Holiday Reality Check: It’s pretty hard to have any kind of decent routine in the busy months of November and December. Busy people tend to sacrifice yoga classes, long walks, and visits to the gym because they need time for extra things like decorating the house, cooking, cleaning up before the visitors get there, and of course: Shopping.

The Good News: Walking around the shopping mall and stores is great exercise, and so is cleaning the house. In addition to those activities, decorating can be quite intensive too: You’re climbing up and down to hang things; lifting, lugging, and dragging boxes out of storage; bending, twisting and turning to get it all looking just right. So don’t beat yourself up about not making it to the gym… you’re getting plenty of activity and every little bit helps!

Weight Loss Tip 2: Don’t let yourself get too hungry. If you go to a party and you’re starving, everything will look even more scrumptious than normal. And of course, you’ll eat much more because of it. Try starting each day with a good, solid breakfast – particularly something with protein. And when you’re at the party, try munching on the veggies to help keep you feeling full. These two things will help your hunger stay under control, and will in turn help you refrain from “gorging” on anything you see just because you’re famished.

Holiday Reality Check: We’re all very busy during the holidays, and it’s not always possible to remember to eat – let alone eat well – particularly in the morning when we may have already overslept and are now running late for everything. And eating healthy at a party isn’t always possible either: Not everyone in this country serves vegetable plates, salads, or fruit bowls. Sometimes the only things in site are junk: Chips, candy, and cookies.

Here’s a suggestion: Try taking your own veggie plate to a party where you know there won’t be one available. A quick and easy way to do this is simply buy a bag or two of pre-cut veggies and some ranch salad dressing. Alternatively, eat a decent meal before you go to the party. Don’t overdo things, but don’t make it a light snack either. Eating first will help you to just “nibble” a bit on the worst of the holiday treats offered.

Weight Loss Tip 3: Stay away from the food. Literally. Just don’t go anywhere near the buffet table, appetizers, or treats… and you’ll be fine.

Holiday Reality Check: In most cases, the food is everywhere. And even if it’s not right in front of your face, you sure can smell it! Trying to just “stay away from it” is pretty unrealistic – and it can feel like torture for some of us. And for most people: When you can’t have something, you want it even more. So trying to stay away from the food will most likely just make you overindulge worse than you would have otherwise.

Try this instead: Allow yourself whatever you’d like. But with a catch. First: Take only half the amount you normally would. And take just one food item. Eat that and enjoy it without guilt. Then, wait a full 20-30 minutes before you get something else. Then repeat the process: One item, half the portion size as you normally would, enjoy it without guilt, then wait before getting something else.

Allowing yourself to eat gets rid of the mentality of “I can’t have it (and thus I’m more determined to have it)” It lets you enjoy the good food and the holidays, without beating yourself up. This is healthy and can help tremendously with the way you view food and eating in general. Only taking half of it though, will help you not take in as much calories, fat, sugar or other bad stuff you usually avoid. And then waiting 20-30 minutes before you get something else will help your body realize when it’s had enough… or too much. So you’re much less likely to overdo things, and feel horrible physically later.

Weight Loss Tip 4: Wear cloths that are slightly tight on you. This should help you feel full faster, and keep you from eating too much food.

Holiday Reality Check: We want to wear looser cloths because we’re looking forward to eating all that great food! Yes, wearing something tight might help us not go back for a second helping of potatoes… or it might ruin a favorite outfit.

In the end, how you approach this tip is up to you, and you alone. Make your decision and be happy with it.

Weight Loss Tip 5: Keep your portions small. Try to load up on salad and vegetables, and take just tiny amounts of anything else.

Holiday Reality Check: Taking just a “bite sized” amount of anything is going to put you into the have-not mental state mentioned earlier. You’ll feel as if you can’t have something, and you’ll want it all the more.

Try the tip noted above instead: Take half the size you normally would. Trying to have just a little bite of pie will whet your appetite for more, but having a whole piece is going a bit overboard – particularly if there’s 5 different pies for you to sample. So try actual sampling instead: Cut a piece half the normal size. This allows you to have a “whole slice”, and more than several little bites. Then wait about 20 minutes before you go and try the next pie. Even if you end up eating a bit of all 5 pies, by having a half-sized slice of each, you’ve drastically cut the amount of calories, carbs and sugars compared to what you would have had with whole slices. And you’ll still feel stuffed and satiated, instead of deprived and resentful.

So there you have it: 5 different, common holiday weight loss and eating tips, followed by the reality check of each, and a suggested compromise that should help you enjoy the holidays to their fullest, without depriving yourself of the great food we all look forward to.

Whatever you decide to do, remember to actually have Happy Holidays!

Bringing Peace Back to the Holiday Season Through Mindfulness

Peace, joy, and gratitude – these are things that we wish for during the holiday season and throughout the year. But those feelings are sometimes hard to come by in our stressful world, particularly around Christmas time, as we’re bombarded with our thoughts that may not be comforting or joyful.

I’ve been working with Charlotte, a mother in her forties, who usually becomes anxious and depressed during the holidays. She focuses on her negative thoughts and ends up being unable to enjoy or rejoice in the season. Each year, she finds herself in a prison made of her own ideas and thoughts, far from the blessings of her family and the celebration.

When Charlotte came to me, filled with self-blame and harsh judgments, I asked her what she would say if a friend came to her with such negativity towards herself. Charlotte said that she would show compassion and understanding. She would listen to her friend. “Why don’t we start there with you then?” I asked.

The first step for Charlotte was to learn and practice mindfulness or attention to the moment. This awareness can provide a connection between you and your surroundings, as well as the people around you. It is the act of just being – not judging.

I asked Charlotte to begin this practice of mindfulness by focusing on the simple pleasures of the holidays: the scent of the pine needles on the tree, the stocking fabric’s velveteen feel on her fingers, and the taste and texture of the Christmas cookie as she slowly and she thoughtfully chews. I asked her to be present, to experience those sensations as they occurred. And, should a negative thought find its way through, to simply notice the thought, acknowledge it, and then return to the moment: the scent, the touch, the taste.

The effect of happiness has a biological basis, something unique to humans. Research has shown that a focus on kindness and appreciation actually promotes the release, the secretion, of two chemicals that help us feel pleasure and wellbeing: oxytocin and dopamine. This helps us feel connected to others.

The opposite is also true. If we think negatively, attacking ourselves and others with negative thoughts, our brain triggers the release of adrenaline and dopamine, two substances that can increase agitation. This drives us away from others.

After a while, Charlotte began to notice just how often those negative and destructive thoughts interfered with the simple pleasures of the holiday season. At one point, she said that she now realized that negativity had somehow become her “default” way of thinking, that she had been moving through life on autopilot. This made her miss out on much of the world around her.

The next step came once Charlotte realized how she had been thinking and that she had control. She then began to judge herself harshly when she wasn’t being mindful. At that point, we needed to go back to the idea of helping a friend. “What would you say or do if this was a friend saying these things to you?”

Charlotte’s withdrawal into autopilot began in childhood, as she grew up in an alcoholic home. This past needed to be accepted before she could truly embrace her present. I worked with Charlotte to label the negative thoughts as judgment, fear, or hopelessness. As Charlotte went through this exercise whenever the thoughts occurred, she began to see how she had been so successfully programmed in that negative way of thinking. Even better, she began to see how she had choices.

Why is it important to share Charlotte’s story with you now? Because learning mindfulness is possible and the holiday season, with its ups and downs, joys and stresses, and hopes and expectations, is a good time to learn to take care of yourself and your thoughts. As neuroscientist Dr. Wayne Drevets observes “In the brain, practice makes permanent.” We can begin to change how we think, to change our perceptions during the holidays. This time of year gives us the opportunity to redefine how we think about ourselves and those around us.

If you would like to try some practices to foster your peace of mind during the holidays, here are some suggestions:

1. Focus on your breathing. When breathing in, thinK “be.” When breathing out, think “calm.” Breathe in and out slowly and purposefully.

2. Spend 30 seconds (or more) to allow your attention and senses to be fully in the present, IN here and the now.

3. Label your negative thoughts. Label them as “judgment,” “fear,” or “reliving the past,” as they pass through your mind. Then, redirect your attention back to the here and now.

4. Work on generating those positive chemicals, the oxytocin and dopamine. Called Loving Kindness Meditation, repeat in your mind:

• May I be at peace

• May I be healed

• May I send out living kindness to others

• May you be at peace

• May you be healed

• May you be filled with loving kindness

5. Notice when you feel moments of joy. Notice when you feel joyful towards someone else.

6. Notice when you feel jealous or resentful and ask yourself why that happened.

7. Forgive yourself. Say, “For the ways I was jealous or resentful, may I forgive myself.”

8. Offer appreciation to yourself. Appreciate when you have offered kindness and love to others.

9. Allow yourself to focus on what brings joy to you and those around you.

10. Remind yourself of the here and now. Notice the many blessing around you. Consider writing down these blessings as the day ends.

11. Intend to look for joy, love, and miracles around you. If you have trouble noticing such things, ask yourself why.

Charlotte is learning to notice the abundance of gifts around her and now finds the holidays offer a myriad of opportunities to practice mindful awareness.

Tis the Season to be Curly – Holiday Hair Care Tips

With the holiday season fast approaching, and countless parties and festive social events you might have to attend – you want to make sure your hair is fabulous! Remember our hair is as delicate as it is beautiful, therefore it is imperative that you treat your hair like you would a fine silk blouse – with extra care. Regular conditioning, daily moisturizing and quality hair care products are a must!

Winter Hair Care Tips:

Winter is the season that wrecks the most havoc on curly tresses. From the seemingly instant change in climate to the daily assault of dry, brittle wind and frizz-producing rain — a curly girl just doesn’t have a chance! However, you can counter the evils of winter by incorporating a good hair regime and using only quality products for your hair. Product choice is paramount. Look for moisturizing cleansers and conditioners and hydrating stylers and leave in products.

 Over shampooing and under conditioning are common culprits for dry, frizzy hair. Winter weather further exacerbates the issue. Therefore, shampooing more than 1x a week is not recommended. I recommend shampooing 2-3x a month, for dry and/or damaged hair, and 1x a week for undamaged curly hair.

 Proper conditioning is one of the most important steps for maintaining a head of radiantly health hair. Unfortunately, most of us do not take the time to adequately do so. Deep conditioning, with heat, is recommended,

 On the other “shampoo-less” days do a conditioning rinse – rinse hair to remove styling products (this is where using the right products that are water soluble come in….such as our products), apply an ample amount of conditioner comb through, rinse and proceed with styling. Doing so will pump much needed moisture back into your hair without stripping away essential nutrients, rinse away unnecessary dirt and oil and give you a fresh clean start.

 Avoid products that contain mineral and/or petrolatum oil as an ingredient. Do not use products with these ingredients for your curly hair or scalp. Both of these synthetic oils coat and suffocate the hair shaft blocking moisture out. Further, they clog pores in your scalp and can retard hair growth. Read your labels. Remember, the ingredients are listed in order of volume. If you hair requires an oil, use only natural oils that penetrate the hair shaft (e.g. coconut, almond, olive, pomegranate seed oil).

Holiday Hair Do’s

 Give your hair a pre-holiday deep treatment, with heat, especially if you plan to heat style your hair. This extra step will help protect the cuticle from damage.

 Nothing is more unattractive then sparse, stringy ends, especially on girls/women with curly hair. Regular trims should be a part of your hair care regimen. Curly hair should be trimmed at least every 3 months, and 1 week before a major event or party. But don’t just trust anyone with your gorgeous locks. Ensure that your stylist is familiar with styling and cutting curly hair.

 Use the right tools when styling your hair. Always opt for natural boar bristle brushes and not nylon brushes, as they tend to break the hair especially during winter months.

 Don’t overdo the heat styling. Excessive blow drying, flat ironing and curly will perpetuate dryness and encourage breakage.

 Go natural! Explore you hair and its glory. Go for the sexy, messy look. Cleanse, condition, moisturize your curly tresses and let them be.

STYLE TIP: Once your hair is dry, gently secure various ringlets tautly to your scalp with bobby pins. Allow a few curly tresses to dangle in your face.

Let the sparkle and shimmer of the holiday season inspire you to have fun with your hairstyle. A little red dress, stunning stilettos, accessories to die for and a hot handbag are just what a woman needs to turn heads at any holiday bash. Top it all off with the perfect hairstyle and you’ve got a look that’s simply stunning!

Types of Holiday Reps

Overseas/Holiday Reps are also known as Customer Services Rep, Resort Rep and Overseas Rep depending on the tour operator you work for but they all basically have the same role. To be a successful overseas rep, you must be outgoing, enjoy meeting and interacting with new people and embrace new experiences and cultures. It is also important that you have excellent sales skills as well as an energetic approach as it can be a very busy but very rewarding job.

The role will often include meeting customers at the airport, presenting them with information that is useful and accurate, holding welcome meetings, visiting hotels on a regular basis to offer guidance and support, displaying high levels of customer service and resolving any problems in a calm and collective manner. Other aspects of the job include guiding excursions, carrying out health and safety checks on the hotel/s and completion of paperwork.

Club Reps

There are many different names for this type of rep, young person’s rep, Club 18-30, Escapades Rep, 2wenty’s Rep, Club Freestyle Rep However, they are all essentially the same. A young person’s rep is a person that ensures that groups of men and women aged between 18 to 35 have the time of their life on holiday. By applying to become this type of rep you will be sent to the liveliest and busiest resorts. The main responsibilities of a club rep are almost identical to that of a holiday rep.

However, in addition to these daily esponsibilities they must also organise the evening entertainment such as pool parties, bar/pub crawls, party nights and beach parties. And while you guests are sleeping you will need to be up early to perform your daily responsibilities such as holding welcome events and dealing with customer complaints.

Entertainment Reps

An entertainment rep is a very demanding role and you will also be expected to join in a wide range of other activities to assist the overseas reps. During the day, you will be making yourself known to the customers, helping everyone join in the fun and presenting a full and varied programme of family focused activities. During the night, you will be on centre stage performing a wide variety of shows to provide the evenings entertainment. From performing in West End style productions such as Frankenstein and variety shows to hosting TV game shows to keep the children entertained.

For this role you will ideally have a talent or keen interest in dancing, singing or performing although it is not essential.

Children’s Reps

These will often perform a similar role to that of the entertainment rep with their focus mainly one the younger children. They are often in charge of kids clubs providing a welcomed break for parents while at the same time, organising games, challenges and activities for young children to ensure they enjoy every minute of their holiday. This role requires a number of key skills. For example you must enjoy working with children and have the patience to deal with children. Their parents will only want to leave their children in your hands if they feel you are confident and capable in your role.

As this role specifically deals with young children there are often stricter requirements when applying for this role. You should ensure that you check with the operator as to what these requirements are. Many will often require at least 6 months experience of professional childcare and/or a childcare qualification at NVQ 2. Alternatively, you may be eligible if you hold qualifications such as BTEC National Diploma in Childhood Studies. You will need to check the requirements of the tour company you want to join.

A transfer rep is somebody who mainly accompanies holiday makers to and from the airport and hotels. A transfer rep is normally the first person the holiday maker sees to represent the tour company so must always be friendly and approachable as they are the face of the company. During the coach trips to the resorts you will be responsible for conducting a welcome talk that includes details of basic information about the resort, which drop offs you will be going to and how long the trip will last plus most importantly about when their welcome meeting will be conducted.

Transfer reps must also ensure that the guests are booked into their accommodation and that they are dropped off and the correct resort. In the event that the departure flight is delayed it is the responsibility of the transfer rep to keep the customers informed of any developments. As with the role of overseas rep the transfer rep may also act as a guide on excursions.

Enjoy a Relaxed Ski Holiday In Peisey-Vallandry

Whether we like it or not, winter has arrived in the United Kingdom! Although the autumn season was remarkably prolonged this year, rain and colder weather has finally reached the shores, just in time for us to begin planning a Christmas break!

And while many Britons will take the chance to catch up with friends and family during the holiday season, just as many are likely to head out on a slightly more exciting type of break – like a stay in a catered chalet in a ski resort in Europe.

The Unbeatable French Alps

For many, a preferred destination is sure to be the French Alps. After all, it is here that some of the best skiing and snowboarding pistes and slopes in the world are located, as well as some of the most famously luxurious resorts. Over the decades, this part of Europe – along with neighbouring Italy, Switzerland and even Austria – has deservedly carved a reputation for itself as the winter holiday destination par excellence, explaining its popularity among tourists both in Britain and further afield.

But for every person willing to pay top dollar for a catered chalet in Val D’Isére or Morzine, there will be another looking to scope out quieter or more affordable options elsewhere in the country. Inevitably, this type of traveller will discover that France holds more than meets the eye in terms of the scope of its ski resorts.

With plenty of scenic places to visit – and a few excellent ski resorts – the Savoy region is ideal for those wishing to enjoy a catered chalet holiday while staying relatively secluded from the winter-sport crowds yet within easy access of quaint villages and natural attractions.

Peisey-Vallandry

One of the best resorts from which to enjoy all that Savoy has to offer is Peisey-Vallandry. Part of the Alpine region known as Paradiski, this resort offers the perfect mix of challenging pistes, breath-taking scenery and extra activities and sports – making it perfect for families as well as for individual travellers or groups of friends.

Adrenaline junkies for whom the thrill of whisking down slopes is not enough, for example, will delight in the opportunity to engage in ice climbing – up frozen waterfalls, no less – or paragliding, while families might enjoy snowshoeing, pedestrian walks, or even cultural sessions held at the resort itself.

Peisey-Vallandry also offers special nursery days, so that parents with small children may have a personal day to enjoy the slopes on their own. A health club and regular entertainment events are also a fixture at this resort, ensuring that tourists who choose to book a catered chalet there get an extra something out of their skiing holiday!

For all these reasons and more, Peisey-Vallandry is an excellent under-the-radar option for a Christmas break in France.

Easy Entertaining – Frugal Holiday Entertaining

One aspect to take into consideration when entertaining is the financial cost. If you aren’t careful, expenses can add up, pushing you over budget when feeding a crowd. Follow these easy tips to keep your holiday gatherings memorable and budget-friendly!

1. Don’t worry about decorating the entire house. Focus the festive decorating in the room where you are entertaining. Concentrate on the food and the table if you are on a tight budget.

2. Use what you have. Re-purpose items you already have on hand instead of buying new ones. Collect branches and pine cones yourself and use for decorating instead of purchasing them.

3. When choosing a menu, make budget-conscious choices. For example, a standing rib roast is a beautiful entrée, but it will push your budget way up. Host a Buon Natale theme, an “Italian Inspired Christmas” and prepare two delicious, yet inexpensive pasta main dishes along with salads and a loaf of foccacia. Choose recipes that call for lower cost ingredients.

4. If you are hosting a large gathering, warehouse stores can save you quite a bit of money. Use a shopping list when grocery shopping and do not stray from your list even if the store carries irresistible new items you would like to try. Stick to your list and you will stick to your budget.

5. Filling in your menu with purchased items is a great time-saver, but be aware that it can increase your overall costs substantially. Preparing all the food yourself or taking guests up on their offer to bring a dish is one of the most cost effective ways to save money when entertaining.

6. If you serve alcohol, skip the mixed drinks and serve wine and/or beer along with other non-alcoholic choices. Or if you wish to serve a cocktail, make a “Cocktail of the Evening” and serve it in a pitcher or punchbowl, rather than having an open bar.

7. Skip the disposable party ware and use dishes and serving pieces you already have for your table setting. Washing a full load of dishes in your dishwasher saves money and energy over washing them by hand and is less work for you!

8. For a centerpiece, think fruit and vegetables rather than flowers. For Thanksgiving, use a serving tray and fill it with squash, mini-pumpkins, apples, pears, nuts for an attractive centerpiece. Use a silver bowl with pomegranates, apples or clove-spiked citrus fruit for Christmas. You can eat most of the items after your holiday gathering is over.

Do a few things and do those well. If you concentrate your efforts and budget with this in mind, you will pull off you entertaining with style and efficiency.

Comfortable Self Catering Holiday Cottages!

Holidaying is something that every one of us loves and we almost wait for the time of year to have fun. We get to relax and rejuvenate our moods only when we go out for holidays or at least when we have a short trip for two or three days. Every time when we think about holidaying, the first thing that comes to our mind is the place where we can enjoy and the budget that we have to spend over it. Though a lot of us know that hotel accommodations are costly, we have no other choice other than bearing it as we won’t have friend’s home or relatives who could give us room to stay until we are there.

Apart from the accommodation charges, food and travelling is the next two important expenditures that are unavoidable. When you plan to spend holidays in big groups, the expenses increases and the trouble of finding cheap but good food and accommodation will become more. You can never underestimate any hotel and its unexpected charges, especially when you have children around you. Though there are countless hardships in arranging comfortable holidaying, you will have to take necessary steps in order to make your process easy as well as cheap as much as you can.

Just think how good it must be if you have a home like atmosphere to stay where you holiday! When we say home like, it includes furnished rooms hall as well as kitchen where you can cook what you want. Now you will have to take in account that the amount you might have to spend on outside food is also cut off in this. Yeah we are talking about the most comfortable as well as economical Self Catering holiday Cottages. Especially when you travel along with many people or in a group, hiring holiday Cottages can make a great difference to a lot of stuffs.

When you can have the comfort of home and get home cooked food at the place where you are holidaying nothing can be as good as this. The advantage of these Holiday Cottages is that they have all necessary facilities and cookware that are necessary for a regular kitchen. The experience of staying together with your buddies or relatives in a cottage during your holiday is something that can give you evergreen memories that can be cherished for years. There are a variety of cottages to suit your taste as well as budget, these cottages range from small ordinary ones to luxury cottage. When you get a chance to tighten up your bond with your close ones with the freedom of staying at a home like atmosphere and enjoy home food while holidaying is such a great experience. You should never miss to have this fun during your lifetime.

What to Say and Not Say at Your Company’s Holiday Party

Yes, it’s that time of year again, when businesses across the globe become more festive than ever-with holiday music piped throughout the buildings, dazzling decorations and of course a big party to celebrate the season.

At these parties, you’re sure to participate in conversation with your colleagues. What an opportunity this gives you to create bonds with newcomers, and to enrich longtime workplace partnerships!

You don’t want to can these conversations, of course, because they would come across as artificial and robotic. It’s helpful, though, to keep in mind some guidelines that will make the evening more pleasant for everybody you associate with-and prompt your teammates to remember you more favorably. So I suggest you consider these four tips for chit chat at your club’s annual party.

FIRST: Steer away from politics. Because many of us stay informed by watching the news, we get saturated with interviews and commentary about who the good guys and ladies are and likewise who are the bad ones. Most of us hope that when we go to our corporate party, we won’t be bombarded again with conversation about indictments, treason, accusations, lawsuits, resignations, firings, inappropriate comments, e-mail misuse and other distressing topics.

Not only are you and your colleagues weary of hearing political pundits who seem to get paid by the word, there’s another fact to consider: In most cases, talking about politics is not going to change anybody’s mind-either yours or theirs. What happens instead is that highly opinionated people will get frustrated, angry, and even hostile.

The recent funeral for President George H.W. Bush reminded me of his call for a “kinder, gentler nation.” Unfortunately, we’re not there yet. Too many zealots bristle when more moderate individuals question their judgment.

SECOND: Stay highly positive. This is not a time for gloom and doom. We get so much of that the rest of the year. For a couple of hours, all of us want to unwind and remain upbeat. Examples:

–We may be tempted to say, “Service at our table seems especially slow. That table over there is enjoying desserts, while our main course hasn’t even arrived.”

In place of that negative approach, you could comment: “Well, I noticed that other table got its dessert sooner than we got our food. But I commend those food service professionals-they have a big assignment serving so many meals at one time. Amazing how well they do!

–Again, we may be tempted to say, “Aren’t you shivering? Below freezing outside, and feels like that here, too”? Far better to stand and say, “I’m going to ask our host if he can adjust this thermostat. I think we’d more comfortable with a couple of more degrees of heat.”

Reminds me of one of the times my wife and I took a cruise. Every night we ate with the same two couples. One couple was jovial, upbeat, and positive. The other couple spent the entire dinner talking about all that had gone wrong that day. Guess which couple we remember fondly and would want to dine with again.

THIRD: For tip number three, be very careful about your jokes and off-the-cuff remarks. Headlines throughout the year have confirmed this new reality: language that might have been tolerated previously has become unacceptable, offensive and in extreme cases leads to highly undesirable publicity and even legal action.

Naturally, we can still compliment another party goer about how they look and how well they dance. Tastefully expressed compliments are welcomed. Good judgment tells us the language borders we shouldn’t cross.

FOURTH: My fourth tip is also very important for conversation. Long ago I read this advice somewhere: “When holding a conversation, be sure to let go of it once in a while.”

Think for a minute about the men and women you enjoy being with the most. Chances are strong that you will not name the gentlemen or lady who tells many long-winded stories that dominate the time with you. Quite the opposite… you’ll

have high esteem for the acquaintance who makes remarks like these:

“Very interesting… tell me more… then what happened?”

When you become the keenest listener at your club’s party, you can easily become the most memorable conversationalist.

In closing, I recommend putting these talking tips into action at your company’s holiday party. You’ll be glad you did, and so will everybody you associate with at the event.

Holiday Gifts: 15 Best Gifts for Runners

The holiday season is approaching and finding the perfect gift for a runner can be a struggle, especially if you are not a runner yourself. It is easy to assume that the only things they’re going to want are running shoes. Fortunately, there are many other good gift ideas that provide comfort or help runners recover more quickly from long runs or races.

Compression Garments

Compression shorts, socks, sleeves, and pants are all the rage in the running community because of their comfortable materials, styles, and colors that coordinate with their running attire. Compression gear squeezes ever so gently to enhance circulation, help reduce swelling, and aid in optimal recovery while wicking sweat from your body. While compression gear can get a little pricy, they’re a highly recommended gift because they provide a layer of protection from the winter weather. Prices range from $7 to $258.

Running Watch

A running watch is at the top of every runner’s gift list for a very good reason: it provides information on time, distance, heart rate, and more. The watch help runners set goals and measure their progress without using pen and paper. They can simply download the data onto a computer and view whatever information they want. So if you want to splurge a little, a sports watch is probably the most exciting gift that any beginning or experienced runner would want. Prices range from $150 to $400.

Music Player

If your runner likes to listen to music or audio books during their workouts, a music player may be the ideal running gift. While many runners opt to listen to music from their smart phone, the concern is that the sweat and moisture may cause unintended damage. MP3 music players are inexpensive and a durable alternative, which allows runners to still play their favorite music to stay motivated. There are a lot of great choices with some of the best MP3 players being reasonably priced and most offering quality sound. Prices range from $30 to $490.

Hydration Belt/Pack

Proper hydration is one of the key elements to any runner performing at their peak whether training for a 10k or 26.2 marathon. Depending on your runner, a handheld 12-ounce water bottle with a pouch is a useful gift for runners of all levels. They come with an adjustable strap that tightens to your hand so you can run without actually having to grip the bottle. However, a handheld water bottle simply does not carry enough water for a long distance runner. It would require too many pit stops to refill. Long distance runners tend to use hydrations packs/belts, which will allow them to run greater distances and still remain hydrated. Generally, hydration systems hold between 18 and 100 ounces of fluid and include pockets to carry food, cash, a phone, and other essentials. A hydration pack is an excellent marathon gift choice for a distance runner. Prices range from $10 to $265.

Massage/Spa Gift Certificate

After months of training and running the big race, their body is in need of some special care and this is a unique post-run gift. Not only does a massage feel good, but it helps restore flexibility, reduces muscle soreness, and promotes injury healing. Whatever the running level, a gift certificate to a local spa or sports massage therapist is always a good gift idea. Prices range from $100 to over $500.

Running Book

Running books are the best gifts for runners for under $15 that provide helpful running tips on every topic from marathon training and running form to nutrition and running workouts from experienced runners. There are tons of books and eBooks available on Amazon. Just put a gift certificate in a gift bag and let your runner pick the books that they want. Prices range from $6 to $14.

Marathon Gift Basket for Runners

A gift basket for runners is designed to provide many of the essential nutritional products runners need so that they can carb load before and replenish vital nutrients after a grueling run or interval training. Also, they contain runner’s favorite brands of energy gels, recovery protein bars, water, energy drinks, and more conveniently in one package. If you’re not too sure what gift to give to celebrate their race, get them a gift basket and it will show your support. Prices range from $30 to $160.

Pedicure Treatment

The feet are a runner’s most important feature and they take quite a beating while running. All that pounding adds up to sore feet, blackened toenails, and tired ankles. A good foot scrub, massage, and pedicure will be welcome gifts for female or male runners from time to time. Most local spas sell gift certificates. Prices range from $25 to $50.

Running T-shirt

A technical shirt is an important part of any runner’s running apparel. A shirt protects the runner’s skin from the elements while it wicks away sweat during running sessions. Look for a lightweight, breathable performance t-shirt made of 100% polyester, mesh, or similar synthetic fabrics. When choosing colors, runners seem to prefer brighter colors. Avoid selecting cotton t-shirts because they become heavy once they become wet and the constant rubbing during a long run causes chafing. A running shirt is a good gift for under $25 that will keep them inspired. Prices range from under $25 to $70.

Marathon Display Case/Metal Holder

Do your runners have a fair number of cherished race metals accumulating on a doorknob or inside a shoebox? Why not give them this unique running gift to display their most memorable metal and race bib. A well-crafted medal display framing kit can be assembled within 10 minutes. If they have lots of race metals, a customized metal holder with several hooks would be the better option. Hung on a wall, it’s a daily remainder of their most proud achievements and amazingly inspirational for friends and family to see. Check them out on Amazon. Pricing ranges from $40 to $140.

Gym Bag for Runners

Runners need a good gym bag to stow their running shoes, towels, and other essentials on trips to the gym or travelling to race events. A stylish sports bag is a functional present for runners that travel a lot or participate in multiple races each year. You can choose from the smaller sack pack-type bags or the larger traditional gym bags. Prices range from under $20 to $80.

Massage Stick/Foam Roller

If the runner in your life doesn’t yet own a foam roller/stick, this is a must-have running gift. Runners use this recovery tool to self-massage sore, tight muscles and help prevent injuries. It’s particularly effective at increasing flexibility and accelerating muscle recovery. This is a nice running gift that every runner should have and it is small enough to fit into a runner’s gym bag. Prices range from $10 to $160.

Running-themed Gift Coffee Mug

What better way to start a runner’s day off than with a cup of coffee or tea from their favorite coffee mug? This motivational mug is perfect for the running and fitness enthusiast who needs that pre-workout boost. Prices range from $10 to $20.

Reflective Running Gear

With most runner’s busy schedules and longer nights, running workouts happen either during the early morning or in the evening after dark. Runners simply must have reflective running gear to increase their visibility to protect themselves from distracted drivers. Get a reflective vest, headlamp, strobe lights, or bright and reflective clothing so they can be seen out on the road. Prices range from $20 to $100.

Running Sunglasses

Running sunglasses not only look super cool, but they protect the runner’s eyes from harmful sun rays. A good pair of sunglasses won’t slip and glasses should be shatterproof and durable. Prices range from under $20 to $300.

Other Notable Stocking Stuffers

Running socks – Comfortable socks are a runner’s best friend. Extra padding on the ball and heel of the foot provide maximum comfort and protection against blisters. Prices range from $10 to $65.

Running gloves – These gloves are made of breathable and moisture wicking fabric to keep your hands dry from moisture. Prices range from $10 to $80.

Hats/head bands – It’s a good fashionable accessory to wear year-round to protect runners from direct sunlight and keep hair and sweat away from their face. Prices range from $15 to $50.

Running Ear Phones – For music lovers, running with quality ear phones is a must. They are compatible with most portable devices and smart phones.

Nutrition – Protein bars, energy gels, and electrolytes are popular among runners as they provide the nutrients lost during a run. Prices range from $1 to $30.

Final Thoughts

This gift list was written to share some running gift ideas that will make your special runner happy when they unwrap their present on Christmas day or on any special occasion.

Avoid Plastic Pitfalls This Holiday Season

The holiday shopping season has commenced! Merchants aren’t the only ones who want to capitalize on all the holiday spending. Credit card companies will make even more money than the retailers. To attract your business, credit card companies aggressively promote low rates and special offers. While there are some legitimate good deals to be found, there are also a host of pitfalls in the fine print. Be sure to keep your credit sanity in check by avoiding these potential credit hazards.

The first of those is found in the words “interest-free.” A favorite of retailers who promote their in-store cards, they promise you can buy something “interest-free until 2018.” While it is true that you won’t pay interest, the monthly statement usually encourages a minimum payment that won’t have you paying off the purchase by the time your interest-free period runs out. This leaves you a high interest rate on the remaining balance at the end of the promotional period. Even worse, sometimes-retroactive interest is applied to your debt if not paid off in a certain time period.

Beware of store credit cards. Even though they may come with tempting coupons or purchasing discounts, they probably come with a high interest rate – sometimes as much as 21%.

Watch out for balance transfer fees. Most major card issuers charge 3% on average for transferring a balance. For example, if you transfer a $5,000 balance, you could pay as much as $150 fee.

Always read the fine print. Make sure you know the terms of your credit card. Does it offer a low introductory rate and hit you with a higher rate at a later date? What about cash advances? Do they come at a higher interest rate than normal purchases? Don’t overlook those costly details that hide in the fine print.

Thousands of Americans use credit cards as a way to finance their holiday spending, and then aren’t able to pay it off. With high interest rates, that can be the start of a vicious cycle of bad spending and credit habits.

Instead of potentially becoming a victim of the problems of plastic, take out a low-interest holiday loan from your local credit union. If you are short on money this year, start saving for next year by putting money away in a Christmas Club account. Both of these options make you less dependent on plastic, affording you peace of mind that you’ll avoid all of the pitfalls over the holiday season.