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from Monya Funderburke

I trust that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and truly enjoyed all that this special holiday has to offer. Counting our blessings. Family. Friends. Football. Lots of food. More food. And even more food! Typically, the holiday season means that we are eating and drinking more, hanging out with our family and friends, and running around with 100 more things added to our to-do-list. Add all this together, and it oftentimes translates to WEIGHT GAIN! Yikes!! Shockingly, most Americans gain an average of 5-10 pounds during the holiday season!!! As a result, we then pledge to make a change with a rock-solid New Year’s Resolution that incorporates better eating habits, more exercise, more sleep, more water, and the list goes on and on . . . all to no avail.

I, like most, find the holiday temptations of delicious foods and delectable drinks irresistible. And, like most, I admit that I over- indulged this past Thanksgiving, which is what prompted me to write this article. The following items offer some helpful tips to avoid the unwanted “extra” pounds.

By faithfully adhering to these recommendations, we can all avoid being one less “holiday weight gain” statistic, and make a New Year’s Resolution that will immeasurably benefit other important areas of our lives, including our spiritual walk, finances, relationships, business interests, etc.

HOLIDAY TIPS

1. Make up your mind to continue with your workouts, whether you stay at home to entertain or travel for the holidays. If you are traveling to celebrate with family and friends, be sure to plan ahead. In advance, find out where the nearest gym or fitness center is located and the hours of operation. Invite a few friends or relatives to join you. Who knows, by showing dedication and commitment (even over the holiday!) you might inspire others in your family to make a New Year’s Resolution to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

2. Okay, you’ve found the closest gym and know the hours of operation. Now, find the best time to incorporate a workout into your busy holiday schedule; mark it in your daily planner and stick to it. When we have a daily schedule of events written down as a helpful reminder, the likelihood that we will accomplish these tasks rises exponentially.

3. Don’t forget your workout gear! Pack your running shoes and/or gym shoes, workout clothes, gloves, heart rate monitor, ipod, and a good book (The Triangle Formula of Success, of course!) or your favorite magazine for cardio sessions. Have all these items packed first so you don’t forget them. This will also eliminate the most widely used excuse for not working out over the holiday season – “I forgot to pack my stuff!”

4. Pack 1 or 2 snack size baggies of pre-cut fruit and/or veggies, nuts, or protein bars to avoid the unhealthy snack options at airports and shopping malls. Don’t forget your favorite protein powder! Measure out a single serving into a plastic shaker so that you can make a shake on the plane, in the car, or at any time you wish. Shoot for 15-25 grams per serving. This ensures that you get an adequate serving of protein to keep your metabolism up and energy levels high! (For a selection of protein powders, go to www.uckele.com. Click here to learn how to make three delicious protein shakes!!)

5. Don’t skip breakfast. If you are spending the holidays away from home, select healthy, easy-to-prepare foods to help get your morning off to a good start. I recommend oatmeal, scrambled egg whites, and mixed fruit. Fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals provide sustainable energy levels to accommodate your hectic schedule, including traveling, shopping, and entertaining family/friends.

6. Drink plenty of water. I know it is hard to think about drinking water when it is cold outside, especially during the winter months. Actually, it is just as important to drink water in the winter as it is during the warm summer months. Water helps combat the dehydrating effects of traveling, consumption of alcoholic beverages, and surprisingly, quenches your appetite since thirst is often mistaken for hunger.

7. Avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeine (if possible). I understand some people wish to drink during this festive time of the year. But remember, alcohol is a high-calorie beverage, especially eggnog, a traditional holiday favorite. One cup of eggnog has 343 calories, the average alcoholic drink (beer, for example) has up to 140 calories, and a four-ounce glass of wine contains 80 calories. Not just any calories, but the worst kind – empty calories! If you do plan to drink, be responsible and keep the number of alcoholic and/or caffeinated beverages to a minimum. Caffeine is a stimulant that may create increased feelings of undue “holiday” stress on an already overworked nervous system. Try drinking hot green tea instead of coffee, and replace soda with flavored water instead.

8. Don’t overindulge. Obviously this is easier said than done, given the fact that most holiday-related activities are centered around those delicious foods and delectable drinks. Please enjoy everything that the holidays have to offer. However, eat moderate portions. You don’t want to dread the holidays and beat yourself up because you’ve stuffed yourself like a pig. Don’t make the holidays a food-frenzy or all-you-can-eat buffet. Instead, focus on this special time of fellowship with family and friends. And if you do find yourself in a stuffed-little-pig state, don’t just plop down on the couch and sulk; throw your coat on and take a brisk walk. Getting outside will be refreshing. It will help you burn a few calories. And it will improve your mental outlook too! Keep in mind that a “big” meal one day doesn’t necessarily – emphasize necessarily - mean you’ve gained five pounds. If you start thinking that way, you’ll keep indulging until the New Year’s Resolution rolls around. You’ll then promise yourself, “This time it will be different.” Really? The body can handle one day, but it doesn’t respond well to a daily onslaught of overindulgence.

9. Take time for yourself. Although spending time with family and friends is essential, it’s also important to have an uninterrupted time of relaxation. The holiday season is a very stressful time, wrecking havoc on your central nervous system. Pray, take a short walk, or read a good book (The Triangle Formula of Success!). In addition, try practicing deep breathing exercises when you feel stressed out. Trust me, a few minutes can make a world of difference when someone is walking – yes walking – on your last “good” nerve!

10. Relax, let go, and laugh. The holidays can be a joyous time of the year to strengthen relationships with family and friends, but they can also bring added stress and anxiety. That’s why it is so important for all of us to relax and take good care of ourselves. So let go and enjoy the quirkiness of your brother, the unavoidable uncle, your chatty aunt, or tenacious mother-in-law. Your family is, well, your family. Learn to laugh at the oddities that drive you crazy. Laughing is a great way to relieve tension, burn calories, reduce stress, and add years to your life! Enjoy the precious gift of life. After all, this is what the holidays are all about.
I pray that these tips will help you get through the holiday season without eating too much, stressing too much, and gaining too much weight. Go ahead. Eat some deserved goodies. In moderation, of course!

Happy Holidays!

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