With the holiday season closing in, visions of stuffed turkeys with all the fixin’s, mashed potatoes and Grandma’s famous pumpkin pie begin to fill our heads, and our stomachs.
For some, the holiday season is a dangerous time for maintaining health goals, but it doesn’t always have to be that way. Here are some helpful hints on how to avoid unwanted holiday pounds, and stay on track with your health or fitness goals.
• Keep a food log. Writing down everything you eat is always a great way to keep yourself accountable for what you put in your body.
• Make exercising a priority. The holiday season can make life a little hectic, but by making exercise just as big of a priority as gift shopping, finding time to work out is simple. Working out in bursts as short as 10 minutes, three times a day can be as effective as working out for 30 minutes straight!
• Drink water. Drinking water throughout the day can help you feel full and less likely to grab a cookie or two between meals. When you feel the urge to snack on something you maybe shouldn’t, drink a glass of water first.
• Eat what you want, just not all of it. Moderation is extremely important when trying to maintain weight through the holidays. For some, saying no to their favorite pie is just impossible, but if you can eat a smaller slice and skip the whipped cream, your stomach and waistline will thank you.
• Get adequate sleep. Feel free to dream of sugarplums (just don’t eat them). Staying on a regular sleep pattern is important year around, not just through the holidays. During sleep, your brain may feel asleep, but your body is actually very much awake. The body uses this time to metabolize everything we eat and drink and stores the nutrients we need and wastes what we don’t. When we don’t get adequate sleep, the body sends food on a “fast track” which can mean storing excess nutrients as fat. Sometimes, the infamous “turkey coma” can be a good thing.
• Write down your fitness goals. Writing out goals and keeping them somewhere you will see them every day is a great way to stay on track. By creating a calendar, you can plan out when you have time to work out ahead of time in order to eliminate excuses later.
The holidays are a magical time of year, bringing friends, families and communities closer together. Give thanks, spread love and cheer, and stay healthy through this very special time of year.
Information provided by Chelsea Harris, Wellness and Fitness Coordinator, Boone County Family YMCA, 608 Carroll St., Boone, 515-432-5925, www.dmymca.org.