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Healthy Holiday Habits

One curse of being in the fitness industry is retaining information that prevents me from enjoying certain foods. I like food. I like to eat. However, a lot of little unhealthy decisions will make a big difference–on my hips.

Maybe you’re wondering what kind of knowledge could possibly prevent me from eating? Well, I know that the number of burpees it takes to burn off a large fry is 524. What’s a burpee? It is basically a repetitive belly flop where you stand up and jump up in between each flop. They are horrible.

I would rather not do one burpee, much less 524 of them. I know that I am better off not consuming processed, high calorie foods. That does not mean that I did not struggle and finally decide that this time I will make the healthy decision.

This type of guilt-provoking knowledge becomes especially annoying for me during the holidays. For example, I know that it would take running five miles to burn off one slice of an eight-inch pecan pie. Five miles! I see the pie, I want to eat it, but I don’t.

Why don’t I just have one piece? Well, for one, I like chocolate pie better. And two, I am stingy with my calories. During the holidays I only splurge on the special things, like chocolate pie.

The average American gains five holiday pounds from Halloween to January 1. It all starts with the Halloween candy, football parties, Thanksgiving meals, Christmas parties, Christmas dinner, and end with New Years parties. The amount of food and drink calories consumed during November and December can completely ruin a weight loss goal that you’re working towards.

Do not let this weight gain happen to you. You do not want to start over. Have some self-control.

I tell all of my clients that their goal during this season is to maintain, not gain. The keys to maintaining are to keep up your exercise routine and continue to watch your calories. If you quit either, your weight will start to creep up. You should start the New Year confident instead of guilt stricken.

Give yourself a head start for 2015, don’t gain weight over the holidays. Maintain!

Consider the following tips to get you to through this tough season all the way to January so that you can continue your healthy life style.

Continue your exercise routine. Add an extra workout in if you have a particularly high calorie meal. This is the worst time of the year to abandon your fitness regimen; you need to burn those extra calories!

Weigh yourself twice a week. This will keep you honest: if gain a pound you can add a workout and pay close attention to the calories you consume over the next week. Don’t be surprised if you avoid the scale and when you finally do weigh on January 1 that you’ve gained five pounds!

Save your calories for the special foods. Don’t fill up on rolls and appetizers that you can have anytime of the year. Splurge on one item. Only one.

Ask family to exercise with you. Each year at Christmas my huge family takes a long hike at an Arkansas State Park.

Remember that the holidays are about people. Look up during dinner and have a conversation with loved ones. You’ll eat less and fill up your heart more.

Make an exercise date with a friend or family member to attend a fitness class together instead of a food oriented date– research shows that you’re more likely to workout if you have a buddy to hold you accountable.

Make and take a healthy side dish to parties. Your host will appreciate the gesture and you are covering yourself so that you don’t overeat high calorie foods.

Educate yourself with guilt evoking knowledge. Seriously. Learn which foods have the highest calories and limit yourself to your favorite one.

The graphic below is one of my favorites. I actually print it off and put it on my fridge right before Thanksgiving, to keep myself in check. It’s called the “marathon meal” because you would have to run an entire marathon (26.2 miles) just to burn off all this dinner.

That is about 2,600 calories. You only need 2,000 calories in one day. The healthier decision would be to have much smaller portions, and limit the sugar (wine and sweets). Also, try grazing: spread the meal out over several hours so your body has time to burn off the food.

I hope you enjoy the holidays with your loved ones. Just remember: everything in moderation; that includes exercise!