Holiday Traditions

I’m so excited Christmas is this week! My family and I have traditions that make our holidays somewhat unique. So that’s what I wanted to share today, and hear about yours!

Christmas Eve

In Paraguayan (and in many other Latino countries) culture, we celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. The 24th is when we have a big family dinner and then at midnight we open our presents. We stay up to celebrate the birth of Jesus at midnight. In Paraguay, when the clock strikes 12 you will hear a million fireworks going off as people celebrate and rejoice. 

I used to hate opening up my presents at midnight, so I would leave half for Christmas morning…because there’s nothing like opening gifts on Christmas morning right?! But now I don’t care and we all open our gifts together and make it this big photo shoot. Last year we actually captured a photo of my dad holding up a shirt we gave him but as we were all watching him we didn’t realize the bottom caught on fire from a candle. Best photo ever.

We will set up the self-timer and take a good tree picture. It usually takes FOREVER because my mom is so picky about how she wants the photos to turn out…and usually my brother ruins them by making a stupid face. This is probably my favorite one ever though because we tried to include our cats :-D

Here’s our typical photo:

In Paraguay, they actually don’t exchange gifts on Christmas – it’s more about the religion and spending it with loved ones. Children get gifts in January (I forget the date) from the Three Wise Men.

Christmas Day

So since we don’t open gifts on Christmas day, what do we do? Our annual tradition is to go to New York City and see all the sights and sounds of Christmas. Yes, it is absolutely mobbed, but I like our little tradition :)

We always go see the tree at Rockefeller Center, which is the craziest part. Jeez people go crazy to try to take pictures and will push you around to do so. Relax people, you’ll get your moment! Here are some of our past Christmas pictures:

Rockefeller Center in 2011

Rockefeller Center in 2011

Rockefeller Center last year.

Rockefeller Center last year.

As I was writing this I messaged my dad to tell him we need to get a selfie stick for this year…it’s so hard to take pictures/find someone willing to take a quick photo of you.

Usually Rockefeller is our last stop though. We try to do something else each year. Last year we also went to Bryant Park to walk around for a bit, and in 2012 we went to Brooklyn to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. We only live 45 minutes outside of the city but somehow have not done a lot of the typical “touristy” stuff.

Not sure what we’ll do this year. I kind of want to go to the 9/11 Museum that just opened. I also would like to go eat at this restaurant remodeled after a train car (on the 6th floor of Bloomingdale’s…so random!).

I’m open to ideas so please leave some! Preferably inexpensive :)

What are your holiday traditions? What do you love most about the holidays?


Follow Reach Your Peak:


How to NOT Gain Weight During The Holidays

Holidays are here…can you believe Thanksgiving is next week? I’m excited to go out with friends for “Thanksgiving Eve” and then eat my favorite foods on Thanksgiving! I said I would do my Christmas shopping earlier this year but it hasn’t happened yet. Not sure if I’ll partake in Black Friday this year.

Anyway, the holiday season can mean lots of food…unhealthy food. People prepare themselves to gain weight and then plan on losing it in the new year. I know a lot of people who are okay with gaining weight and not working out as much during the holidays because “it’s the holidays.” What?? Why??

How To Not Gain Weight During The Holidays

“Holiday season” is usually two main holidays – Thanksgiving and Christmas. That is only 2 days. Why do we span it out over almost two months? Why is it okay to eat whatever you want for 2 months?

Trust me, I’ve been guilty of this too. I’m used to say, eh whatever I’ll just start back up after New Years. But if you don’t want to gain weight and don’t want to start over on Jan. 1, then don’t let the “holidays” take over. Here are a few tips:

Don’t go nuts for 2 months. I know people have office parties, and then you have your own parties, and then you have your friends’ parties. But really try to be mindful of what you’re eating. Choose the events where you really want to savor the food and company. For me that would be Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family. I’m actually going to “Thanksgiving dinner” with my sister tonight at her school, but plan on keeping portions small and loading up more on veggies than on stuffing. Don’t be complacent with eating whatever during the months of November and December.

Exercise. An obvious one right? If you do splurge, don’t make yourself feel guilty. It happens, and you don’t want to deprive yourself either during this time. But just make sure you counteract it with exercise. Stay active this winter. Try to go to the gym every day or every other day if possible and do whatever you love that makes you sweat. Going to the gym more often may actually help deter you from bad food choices too, because who wants to undo all that hard work??!

Sign up for a holiday race. This kind of goes with the above point, but find a Turkey Trot or a Santa Race and run with friends and family. Sure it’s cold, but it’s a great way to stay active and get others involved. Plus, running a 5K the morning of Thanksgiving means an extra serving of mashed potatoes right? ;)

Don’t wait until the new year. Why wait?? You can start now. Why do we always wait until Monday or “the new year” for a fresh start? What are your goals? Start working towards them now. By waiting until January you’re wasting a whole month you could be working on something! You’ll be ahead of the game once Jan. 1 comes around. If you do end up wanting to wait, then at least start writing down your goals now. Make a concrete plan of how you’re going to achieve those goals, so you’re not one of the high percentage of resolutioners who fall off around February or March.

Remember, the “holidays” are not every day from now until January. Use those days that are not a holiday to stay on track and you won’t gain weight this winter. I know it can be hard and tempting, but really think about what’s more important: staying healthy or indulging in food. And hey, if indulging is more important than go for it! But as I always say to my mom when I give her tough love, “don’t complain later on.” ;)

What tips would you add?

What’s your favorite holiday gathering and food?


Follow Reach Your Peak:


Happy Holidays!

I haven’t posted in about a week, but I’ve been pretty busy and enjoying time with family. My uncle who lives in Florida came up to visit us, and we haven’t seen him in about 7 years because he moved to Paraguay for a period of time. Since he’s the only family we have here in the US, it is great to be spending time with him!

As per Paraguayan (and other Latin countries do this as well) tradition, we celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. We have a big dinner, and stay up until midnight to say Merry Christmas and open presents. I used to hate this as a kid because I wanted to open gifts on Christmas morning, so I’d just keep a few unopened for Christmas morning :-P

On Christmas Day, we have our own tradition of going into New York City to see the tree and walk around. Last year, we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge.

This year we just ended up visiting Rockefeller Center and the World Trade Center Memorial, because my uncle hadn’t seen it yet. The memorial is beautiful.

Rockefeller was absolutely packed…obviously. But we always like going to see the tree and snap a few pictures even if it is almost impossible to navigate through the crowds.

Since then, I’ve just been relaxing since I’m off from work. I apologize for the lack of posts!

Yesterday, Dan and I went to the Devils game. It was a fun time, although they lost :(

Who else loves hockey??

Did you have a few days off for the holidays? What did you do?

Do you have New Years plans?


Follow Reach Your Peak:


Happy Holidays!

I apologize for not posting much the past few days…I’ve been busy doing last minute Christmas shopping and wrapping. I always tend to wait until the week before to start shopping…oops.

I probably won’t post for the next few days so I want to wish everyone a very happy holiday season! Enjoy!


Take a few minutes & help children have gifts for the holidays

Every year, Rutgers University hosts the Big Chill 5K race. Instead of paying a registration fee, runners just have to bring a toy, which is then wrapped and given to local children whose family may not be able to afford holiday toys.

Our Recreation team created this video and have entered it into a Johnson & Johnson contest. With your help, we could win a grant that will help us fund Big Chill and help make the 10 year anniversary special. Please consider taking a few minutes to vote and help make sure children are able to receive gifts during the holidays.


Watch the video and vote here!