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Staying Fit During the Holidays

POSTED BY: Candie Swager, RN

We love it when holidays become visible on the calendar.  Visions of turkey with gravy and ham with sweet potato casserole begin to tease our senses, especially our tummies. 

But we know in the back of our minds that January and resolutions will follow along with the word “diet” as we try to justify the overeating we’ve embraced throughout the holidays. So before it starts, let’s be proactive when we see the increasing numbers on the bathroom scale. 

Being proactive requires discipline: leaning towards protein and shying away from carbohydrates, participating in some type of exercise regime, and pushing the plate away when you are full.

Here are some thoughts on how to eat better this holiday season:

  • Learn to like sugarless beverages without turning to diet brands.
  • Stay away from hard candies which are melted and remolded sugar products.
  • When dining out, skip the appetizer section in all menus.
  • When the main entrée is served, eat slowly and when feeling full, stop eating. Enjoy fellowship at the table more than your food and if you recognize hunger, then slowly eat another few bites then wait a few minutes and reevaluate. 
  • Share a dessert with those at the table and have just a bite or two. 
  • When dining at home, pair a simple salad or cut fruit with the main entrée.
  • Say goodbye to meat and potatoes with gravy. Learn to like lean meat grilled without sauces paired with a green vegetable and a simple salad or fresh fruit cup.

Work Out the Muscles While You Work Out the Credit Card

The secret to exercising during the holidays is to not be aware you’re doing it. For example, mall walking while holiday shopping is more effective than you may think. Taking the scenic staircase in the mall rather than the escalator is a plus. Calf tightness of post-mall walking is usually felt the following morning. Remember, this is not bad thing. Tearing down muscle to rebuild it bigger and stronger is the goal.

Add to the routine reaching over your head while browsing shelves and pushing clothing along the racks from left to right as you search for that perfect gift. This is known as resistance training. These activities, along with the balance it takes, strengthen your core muscles.

Carrying your own packages rather than distributing them among your children or handing them to your spouse is considered weight training. Again, the lifting of weight with balance will also strengthen your core muscles. 

Of course, if you want to really push your work out, park your car on the edge of the parking lot to walk in to and out of the mall. 

When you’re ready to take the next step, look for one of the many free online exercise routines tailored to the individual wanting to increase activities gradually in order to prevent injury.  A popular online routine called “Couch to 5K” is a great place to start.

Remember, even the most disciplined eater fights temptation. For the upcoming holidays stay focused on your choices. Share your plate with a friend. Take small bites, chew thoroughly, and then evaluate for that full sensation. Engage in activity following meals, and never eat after dark. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.