Finding Balance Through the Holidays

THE specific BLOG

Dr. Chris Collins & Kirstin Hill, RD

My friend Kirstin and I were having lunch the other day, and were talking about all things health (like a couple of nerds), and one of the common themes of our conversation was what our clients have been struggling with during these holiday months.

You have lots of demands from family and friends. You’re cooking and eating things that you are not used to and instead of carving out time to relax, you’re spending your time carving a large turkey. 

Other than resorting to holiday cocktails, how can we stay sane and enjoy some sense of balance in the holidays?

Well, my lunch friend has some ideas.

Allow me to introduce a newcomer to the Chattanooga health expert field, Kirstin Hill. I was introduced to Kirstin because of her qualifications as a Pilates instructor, and I soon found out she has much more to offer than just that.

Enjoy this blog about taking the stress out of moving and eating well during the holidays.

As a child I remember nothing but genuine joy and excitement for the holidays-time off from school, no commitments, good food and relaxation. 

Naturally, perception changes in adulthood; joy and excitement may be overridden by stress, anxiety and burnout. This article aims to provide simple, wellness tips that can help you mitigate these unwanted feelings during the Holidays.

80/20 rule

Every kind of sweet treat makes its debut during the holidays. 

My nostalgia and pleasure is found in stollen (German fruit bread), pizzelles (Italian cookies) and persimmon pudding. It’s common to have an all or nothing approach during the holidays, meaning you allow yourself to over-indulge with promises to start fresh in the new year. 

The 80/20 rule is a more practical and sustainable way to leading a healthy lifestyle throughout the year. The 80/20 rule is all about consistency-the key to long-term wellness. It involves eating whole, nutrient dense foods 80 percent of the time with the remaining 20 percent reserved for freedom to eat as you please.

Generally, this allows a healthy relationship with food by enabling mental and emotional freedom. Consistent actions create consistent results. A salad does not result in weight loss just like indulging in an unhealthy meal does not result in weight gain. Plan on having a nutritious breakfast, lunch and dinner most days of the week so you can slide in that cookie, pie, etc after lunch or dinner. 

Eating a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat at each meal will reduce cravings and the risk of binge eating. It’s healthy to enjoy experiences and find foods you love without feeling guilty.

Boost Magnesium

Adequate magnesium intake is a non-negotiable since it plays many crucial roles within your

body. It supports things like your sleep cycles, energy production, immune function, hormone

balance and much more. 

The recommended daily allowance for adults is about 300-400 mg. Leafy greens, nuts, seeds, bananas and avocados are good sources of magnesium. 

Common signs of low magnesium levels include fatigue, muscle cramps, anxiety, depression, pms, constipation, difficulty sleeping and poor memory. 

There are several different forms of magnesium:

  • Magnesium glycinate or bisglycinate is one of the most highly absorbable forms and supportive of PMS and period relief, improved sleep and reduced anxiety. 
  • Magnesium chloride is a form that’s used topically for quick absorption to help improve sleep and promote a sense of calm. 
  • Magnesium citrate provides constipation relief.


This probably seems like a laughable suggestion, but from my experience most people are shallow breathers. I am guilty of this too, so you are not alone. 

When I see Pilates clients the first thing I have them do is take a few minutes to settle into their breath and body. The stressors of daily life tend to have people breathing from their chest. 

A fuller, oxygen-rich breath reaches the deep belly, lower lobes of the lungs, waist and low back. These deep breaths also help to support calming the nervous system so that you feel more grounded. 

Follow the guidelines below for a minimum of 5-10 minutes a day to reap the benefits of more peace and calm to your body.

Exercise 1:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent to the ceiling and feet flat to the ground. 
  2. Place each hand on your ribcage
  3. Inhale to draw the breath in through your nose counting to five. Imagine the breath drawing down toward your belly button and filling your abdomen concentrically. 
  4. Exhale the air out through gently pursed lips, counting to five. 
  5. Repeat this cycle for 3-5 minutes or until you start to feel more relaxed.

Exercise 2:

  1. Sit with your knees bent to the ceiling and your feet flat. 
  2. Rest your hands on your knees, keeping your elbows and shoulders soft. 
  3. Pick a point across the room to maintain a level eye gaze so as to keep your head centered between your shoulders. 
  4. Inhale here through your nose drawing the breath in deep to a five count. 
  5. Exhale as you round your spine and allow your hands to slide down to your ankles. Your head will now be gently looking down toward your thighs. Keep a fist-sized space between your chin and chest. 
  6. While in this rounded seated position, inhale through your nose again to a five count. You should be better able to feel expansion of your breath into your ribcage and lower back area. 
  7. Exhale through pursed lips counting to five feeling the ribcage naturally condense as the air leaves your body. 
  8. Repeat the breath cycle 3-5 times.

My wish is for you to have a joyous and relaxing holiday. Experiment with one or all these suggestions if you are experiencing stress, anxiety or burnout. Take time to listen to and trust your body, it always communicates what it needs.

Kirstin Hill is a Registered Dietitian, Life Coach, and Pilates Instructor. In this blog post she provides three great health tips to help you move through the holidays with less stress and more space for joy.

Thanks for reading the specific blog.