Healthy Holiday Gifts: Some Thoughts. Because What the Hell.

Portable music players: always a classic!
photo: xray delta one

By Crabby McSlacker

Holy guacamole, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted on this blog. I kinda thought I might be done forever.

But here I am again! I’m not entirely sure why, it just felt like time to reconnect. And if anyone is actually still out there, it would be lovely to touch base with y’all again. My guess is, posting will still be quite sporadic, but who knows?

One problem with not posting for a long time: there are a million shlabillion gerbzillion things that have piled up in my head that I feel like I should talk about. (Okay, perhaps my grasp of the nomenclature used in advanced mathematics is a little tenuous).  Yet none of them seem all that profound when I start to write about them. And I hate to just throw a bunch of travel pictures at you, which is often my default when I’ve been blogslacking for extended periods of time. But I do promise an update at some point, if blogging becomes a Thing again.

So in my first attempt at a post, I somehow got sideswiped by a bitter, fury-fueled rant about the horror of our recent elections. I couldn’t help it. And I’m not sorry I went through the exercise: like an episode of violent vomiting when stomach flu strikes, it actually made me feel a little better afterward. But I realized that a screeching protest about the surreal state we find ourselves in as a nation might not the best way to begin again after a long hiatus. Especially for a health and fitness blog.

Instead, what makes for a more innocuous, google-friendly, and unvomitlike fresh start than a blog post topic like:

Healthy Holiday Gifts!

(And ok, there’s a timing reason for this too:  there’s a BIG SALE on one idea that ENDS TODAY. (Although there is still time for a discount, just not as big.)

So yeah, except for a couple items, this is more about Thoughts on Gifts and less about the actual Gifts themselves. Because I like thinking a lot more than I like getting off my ass to do actual research.

However, don’t despair! If you’re looking for a more traditional compilation of material items, other far more industrious websites have already done the heavy lifting:

Glamour has a bunch of gifts ideas for health nuts, has healthy gifts under $50
Greatist has gifts for your fit friends,
Wellness Mama has a natural and eco-friendly gift

Late breaking update: A funny and original yet strangely useful list by the awesome Gigi!

Bizarrely Unique Gift Guide.  You can go there first.

Anyway, first, let’s start with a couple General Gift Giving Principles.

Don’t Be a Christmas or Hanukkah Gift Nazi


 No. No, no, no, no.

Giving a Bootcamp class gift certificate to someone who would rather have all her teeth ripped out with rusty pliers by a posse of drunken rodeo clowns is a crappy idea.

“Healthy” gifts should be calibrated to the recipient’s comfort zone, and should even feel like a luxury, an indulgence.

And yes, I’m aware that there are indeed people who consider it an indulgence to do burpees for time til they puke with a group of like-minded masochists. You may be one of them yourself. But seriously, if you’ve got a groupon account and an itchy trigger finger, get her a fucking massage. If she truly wants to endure extreme physical torture in the name of good health, she can sign up for the class herself.

But Don’t Be an Evil Asshole Enabler Either

If someone has been trying their hardest to eat healthier, lose weight, get their blood sugar and cholesterol numbers into a healthy range, and their dreary salads and stir fries and vegan casseroles make you sad and you don’t like to think anyone actually has to eat that rabbit food all the time, isn’t it ok to buy him or her a little something tasty to brighten up her holidays?


That’s just mean. Restrain yourself. Eat that crap yourself if you need to, but don’t tempt your loved one down the road of self-loathing and regret. (Unless your loved one is hinting around big-time that they want a little holiday jail-break from diet prison. But you better be damn sure you’re reading the signals right).

Alternative Healthy Holiday Gift Ideas

Online Mind-Expanding Programs

Why limit gifts to material physical objects? Mess with other people’s heads!

Or, consider these sort of gifts as possible Christmas presents to yourself, giving alternative suggestions to people who might otherwise give you a down jacket in a hideous color or a novelty kitchen appliance you will use once and discover it takes 3 hours to clean and thereafter consign to it to the basement.

The website Sounds True is a good resource for a lot of  these, and they often have sales this time of year.

But yes, it’s inevitable: long-time readers know I’m a big fan of Rick Hanson’s programs. In fact, I’ve been downright stalkery over the years. So you guessed it, it’s time again to pimp his awesome Foundations of Well-Being program.

Rick has totally helped me (and other folks I know) rewire my neurotic brain into a new, improved, and way more functional (though no less bizarre) piece of cranial software. The program lasts all year, it’s scientific, and (if you keep at it) its quite effective. Yet it’s fun and comfortable and full of heart and even a little bit of silliness at times. Lot’s of bonus presentations by Other Smarty Pants Personal-growth experts, and quizzes etc.

Do I get a commission if you sign up through me? Yes! Is that why I’m running this? No! I just genuinely think Rick’s program is a truly great resource. But if you don’t like the commission aspect, just google it and find someone else to give the $$ to when you sign up.

Anyway, save $180 if you sign up and pay in full by Dec 12, which is, ulp, today. Or they’ve got payment plans that aren’t too much more.

Foundations of Well-Being banner

In the lightly edited words of Rick’s Promotional Literature, (because good promotional copy shouldn’t go to waste):

Rick uses the 12 Pillars of Well-Being to teach you practical, effective ways to see more of the good in your life, and grow greater calm, contentment, and confidence from the inside out.

It’s thorough, it’s deep, and it works—with insightful talks, guided practices, revealing quizzes, monthly live-streamed events with Rick, creative activities, and inspiring guest experts like Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield, and Gretchen Rubin. You also get vibrant community forums, the science behind the program, special interest areas (e.g., children, addiction) – and a money-back guarantee.

You really can change your brain for the better, and in the Foundations of Well-Being program, it’s straight-forward, fascinating, and fun.

Start feeling less stressed or worried, become more mindful and grateful, free yourself from past painful experiences, and experience more pleasure and joy in daily life.

But don’t panic if you’re not ready to pull the trigger today, there’s still a pretty darn good sale going on through January 3rd, almost the same deal. Check the site for more details.

Another personal-growth brain rewiring resource is Shinzen Young. His amazing series of lectures, The Science of Enlightenment, has now been reformulated and updated into a handy book. He also does lots of recordings and videos, and best of all, hosts monthly online retreats. (My head is still floating from a couple of courses I took this weekend). Anyway, this dude takes the best of Eastern and Western spiritual discoveries, blends with modern science, removes the dogma and woo-woo and puts it all into a pragmatic series of steps to optimize your consciousness.

And if you like your personal growth integrated with other health and fitness advice, consider a magazine subscription to Experience Life.

I don’t get any commission or anything, it’s just that Experience Life is the only health magazine that doesn’t infuriate me. Other choices seem to be sexually segregated these days, and “women’s” health, best I can tell, is now totally a function of makeup, hairstyles, clothing choices, and overall “hotness.” (Note: the beige wall-to-wall carpeting in the background is NOT included with your subscription price. Here at the Cranky Fitness Graphic Design Studios, we were too lazy to crop).


The Hedge-Your-Bets Combo

So what if you still want to give a Shiny New Thing for your loved one to have fun with, not some goddamn wholesome educational learning experience?

Well, if your recipient has given you a suggestion, by all means buy the Thing Itself. But if you’re just making half-assed guesses, consider sparing your loved one the awkwardness of returning expensive items that don’t fit, either physically or psychologically. Returning things makes most people feel petty and ungrateful, no matter how earnestly you say it’s totally okay.

But on the other hand, it’s nice to have something physical to open, something with satisfying three dimensionality. So buy something small and cheap, but then pair it with a generous gift card from a store that embraces active pursuits. I personally like REI, but for your recipient it might be Big Five or Lululemon or Nike or whatever.

(The problem with a more general sort of store like Target? Sure, they have athletic stuff but then your recipient might feel like she should be purchase vacuum cleaner bags or toilet bowl cleaner instead of the heart rate monitor or cute yoga pants she actually wants. So choose a store with nothing remotely practical in it.)

So yeah, the “gift” is not really the edible treat or socks or lotion or cheap geegaw you saw next to the cash register, but if you wrap that sucker up to go with the little envelope that’s good for something Big and Fun you’ve got your bases covered.

What do you guys do about holiday gifts? And how the heck are you? I miss you!

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