Enjoy your holiday food and stay fit

by Jeff Howerton

It may seem contradictory for your personal trainer’s first column to discuss the enjoyment of holiday food, but that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Well, sort of.

There’s no getting around the fact that holiday meals are loaded with calories, nor is there much chance that you’re going to pass up your favorite foods around this time of year. So I’d like to familiarize you with certain strategies you can implement that will help cut your losses (or gains).

Your body is accustomed to taking in a certain number of calories per meal. Too many at one time will result in fat storage, and since holiday meals have proven to stack as many as 3500 calories per sitting, it’s worth keeping track of how much food you consume.

Watching what you eat may NOT be the most practical way for good holiday eating management, though, since most of these meals consist of traditional staples that don’t match up with great nutrition. Instead, watch HOW MUCH you eat.

Good strategies to curtail taking in large quantities of food include using a smaller plate, drinking water with your meal, including plenty of protein, choosing larger portions of vegetables and smaller portions of other carbohydrates, and limiting dessert to a few bites. And, oh yeah, don’t go back for seconds! No one in the world will starve because you only had one plate of food.

Next, look at your physical expenditure — or put more plainly, how much you exercise. You may focus a great deal on what’s going in, but what about what’s going out? Keep in mind that all the food you eat is energy! You take in that energy to fuel movement and to maintain your healthy body. As you eat your holiday meals (or any meals for that matter), regulate your food intake by taking stock of the exercise for which you’re preparing your body. A good analogy would be this: for every dollar you spend, you have to earn a dollar. So, for the calories you eat, you need to think about the exercise you’ll do to burn those. Hold yourself accountable.

Planning an activity before and after a holiday meal is sure to change your approach to the big meal. Something as simple as a brisk walk not only reminds you of your dedication to being healthier but it also goes a long way toward distancing your body from another piece of pecan pie.

Remember, nothing encourages overeating like a lack of activity and boredom. Plan to MOVE after your last bite!

Enjoy your holiday food (just a little) and stay fit! 

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