[Hooping.org columnist Abby Schwartz takes on the holidays.]
Lately my life has been a blur, and it is not the happy spinning kind created in the hoop. It is that time of the year again, when Halloween skids into Thanksgiving, which careens into Christmas before crashing into the New Year. I don’t know why it surprises me every year, but it does.
For me, the same patterns emerge annually: my intake of sugar increases with Halloween, continues through the handful of family birthdays we celebrate in November (right now there is a piece of cake taunting me from my refrigerator), and it only gets worse as the parties begin and people start gifting cookies and candy and baked treats. Every year, my scale climbs as the holiday season builds in intensity. Add to that the stress of trying to “get it all done” before the end of the calendar year, and it is no wonder I start each January with the same resolutions of losing weight, exercising regularly, de-stressing and finding balance. I could be good all year and then October 31st hits, and boom…it all comes crashing down.
I want to break that pattern this year and I am going to do so using my favorite go-to tool: my friend, the hoop. Here are five ways hooping can help us survive the holidays.
1. Hooping forces us to slow down. When I start getting super busy, I start dropping the things in my life I actually need the most: social time with friends, regular workouts, and playtime. It seems counterintuitive to put aside those things that “should” get done for those that are just for fun, but fun plays an important role in recharging our batteries so we don’t burn out. For me, fun provides the added bonus of bringing creative inspiration — something that I need to perform well in my job as a writer and designer. I am going to make a point of stopping each day to put aside what I am doing and lose myself in the hoop. Even if all I can manage is 10 minutes at a time, it will give me a much-needed opportunity to regroup.
2. Hooping can help prevent the creep of holiday weight gain. Calories in versus calories out. Simple enough, but most of us end up eating more and exercising less this time of the year. Given what we now know (but always suspected) about hooping as an aerobic exercise burning approximately 210 calories per 30-minute session, just a half-hour of waist hooping alone can counteract that extra piece of pumpkin pie that you snuck back into the kitchen to snarf down.
3. Hooping helps balance the blues. Many people have a difficult time emotionally during the holidays, for a number of reasons. This Thanksgiving and the coming holidays will be touched by sadness for me since it will be the first time celebrating without my dad. While it cannot change the circumstances that cause sadness, hooping has been known to boost the spirits with its calming, rocking motion and massage-like feel. I’ve heard countless testimonials from people, including Hoop Path founder, Baxter, who credit hooping with helping them cope with depression. You’ve got nothing to lose but the blues.
4. A hoop is a reminder of what really matters. This time of year, we are bombarded with advertising messages that push us to spend, spend, spend on big-ticket items like electronics and cars and furniture. We are encouraged to be the first in line on Black Friday to fight the crowds for special deals. Seriously, I can’t stomach Walmart at 4 p.m., let alone 3 a.m. Now put all that noise and pressure aside for a moment and consider the joyful simplicity of the hoop. It is a ring of plastic that is decorated with pretty colors. It is fun to play with and makes people smile. Pick up your hoop and remember for a few minutes that for most of us, it is the little things that create happiness. Yes, it is fun to get a new iPad, but the novelty of just about everything fades in time, and what remains are the small pleasures like spinning inside a hoop or figuring out a new hoop move.
5. Establish a hoop habit now and start the new year right. One of my regrets of the last few months has been falling out of my hoop habit. I’d really like to get back to hooping a minimum of 30 minutes a day, most days of the week. Instead of waiting until January 1st to pull the trigger on that resolution, I am going to start right now. They say it takes 21 days to start a habit. By the time New Year’s rolls around, I will be in a happier place mentally and physically thanks to a return to my hoop practice. And, I can take advantage of the post-holiday sales to rock a new pair of jeans. Maybe even a smaller size!
Hoopy holidays, everyone!