Staying healthy during the holidays

QUESTION OF THE MONTH
I love holiday festivities — family, friends, food … food … food …. Is there any way to stay healthy over the holidays?

ANSWER
Can’t you just smell it: The turkey roasting in the oven, the potatoes being whipped to perfection and the fresh rolls steaming in a festive basket? Wake up! You are probably about to shove over 3,000 calories into your mouth. The good news is that it takes about 3,500 calories to put on a pound. Unfortunately, nearly 50 percent of those

Thanksgiving feast calories came from fat. Like those annoying relatives, fat is difficult to get rid of, and it tends to linger in places where it is not appreciated.

Isn’t eating delicious foods part of the fun of the holidays? I could tell you to watch what you eat over the holidays, exercise more, cut out the fatty foods and desserts, but it just isn’t reasonable for most of us. Some simple planning might make it a little easier to enjoy your favorites without all of the guilt.

First, forget the diet. Trying to lose weight during the holidays is not practical. Instead, focus on maintaining your current weight. Scout out the table before filling up your plate, and make a plan of attack. Don’t deprive yourself of your favorites, but take small portions of high-calorie items, fatty foods and breads. Enjoy larger portions of proteins, fruits and vegetables. Beware of alcoholic beverages. They may help you deal with the relatives, but they can be full of empty calories and high sugar content. Focus on eating until you are satisfied, not stuffed. You will feel much more content and relaxed, and you may even have room to partake in a little dessert.

While you may feel like you are running a marathon getting to all of your holiday activities on time, it is important to keep your regular exercise routine in place. People often go to extremes around the holidays — either extreme exercise to combat unhealthy eating or quitting their programs all together. Excessive workouts are not the answer; you will likely end up sore, grumpy and maybe even injured. Quitting is certainly not the answer! You will just have to work that much harder later. Try to continue your regular gym schedule, even when things get hectic. You will have more energy to face everything on your calendar. Don’t have a gym membership? There are plenty of things you can do around the house to maintain your health. Work in the yard, take a brisk walk or participate in a fitness program on TV. Again, your mind and body will be much better prepared to tackle holiday activities.

The holidays are all about enjoying time with friends and family. With a little thought and planning, you can take away the guilt over unhealthy eating. Have fun, and remember to count your blessings. A healthy body should definitely be on the list!

Anthony G. Barnes is the club owner at Anytime Fitness in Chester and holds a degree in sports medicine and exercise science. To submit a question for future articles, please contact the author at anthony.barnes@anytimefitness.com

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