The Holiday Season. Survive or Enjoy?

Halloween marks the beginning of the overeat, and stop exercising season. Why do you think New Year’s resolutions are made in January? There are a million articles and tips on how not to gain weight and loose condition this holiday season. I tend to ignore most and just continue with my regular healthy eating habits and exercise. There is no reason I have to eat more calories even if they are shoved in my face, blaring at me from inside magazines, given to me as gifts, and beckoning me at the holiday party. Food temptations are all around me the rest of the year, so why should I change now? And if I commit to my regular exercise schedule, chances are that extra cookie won’t stick around past January.

If you are one that tends to gain a few pounds over the holidays, ask yourself if that is what you really want to do again this year. Do you want to start the new year with excess baggage? Or do you want the new year to begin without added burdens, so that you can concentrate on what you really like and love to do?

To maintain your weight and fitness level, the first step is to just make that a priority. Eat right and exercise FIRST.

Then if you have time for that holiday party, shopping trip, decorations, cards, etc, after you’ve already stocked your kitchen with healthy foods and got in your workout, then go ahead and do it. But make a deal with yourself that you will not address those cards until you have exercised. You will not go shopping unless you have eaten well. You will not put up the Christmas lights until after you have gone for a walk or a bike ride.  Make this commitment to yourself the first holiday gift you give and receive. It’ll be a gift that will truly last a lifetime.

Ok, and if you do end up eating a few more cookies, left-over Halloween candy and mashed potatoes, that’s fine. Enjoy it. Food is fuel, not an enemy. But don’t forget that you’ll either have to eat less unhealthy foods and calories at the next meal and/or exercise more.  Weight is lost and gained over a week, so plan your week well, write down exercise appointments with yourself and treat them like any other important appointment that you would not break. Take a mental note of that extra cookie and if you know stuffing or pie is your favorite part of the meal, plan ahead for it so you can really savor and enjoy it.

For some more practical tips on how to stay on track with your weight and fitness goals, listen to this excellent audio file by Ben Greenfield of bengreenfieldfitness.com. He talks about what and when to eat and exercise to tweak your metabolism and hormones for optimal results. Here’s a great short workout that you can do just about anywhere; at Grandma’s, in your hotel room, and even  at the gate while waiting to board your plane. (Please leave comments about the looks you get from fellow passengers in the “Comment” box!). Do this quick workout before you sit down to watch the game or to play a game of Pictionary with the family. Please be sure to modify it for grandma and the kids!

And guess what? If you take care of yourself first, not only will you not gain weight, your stress level will be lower, your stamina higher, your mood more jolly and you will no longer have to “survive” the holidays, you will actually enjoy them!

Remember there are many commercial forces out there telling you how to define the holidays. They are telling you that you must bake cookies, you must eat pie & gravy, you must buy lots of gifts, you must decorate, and if you don’t send out cards, your friends will disown you. Define the holidays for yourself. Define your health. Don’t let the powers that be convince you that buying and consuming their unhealthy products is more important than your health. Merge your lifestyle with what meaning the holidays represent for you. Give thanks for, celebrate and take care of the gift that is you!

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