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Remembering the holidays for all the right reasons

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The holiday season is meant to be celebrated and enjoyed with family and friends.  But it doesn’t have to be remembered because of the pounds you added!  Did you know the average American gains five pounds over the holiday season?

Here are some tips you can use to navigate through the holiday season feeling energized and alive!

1.    Stay active! With all of the errands, parties, decorating and gift giving, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and tired.  Seek energy-creating activities. Get up early and hit some cardio.  These brisk, chilly mornings are a great time to walk.  Cold temperatures increase your metabolism and help you shed unwanted pounds.  Remember this: 30 minutes a day keeps the Santa belly away!

2.    Skip the alcohol!  Easier said than done, I know. Most social gatherings will include the latest cranberry cocktail and delicious wines.  Unfortunately, alcoholic beverages will only dehydrate you and give your body empty calories to process. If you do partake, stick to one and then drink water (aka, a “blue dolphin”) for the rest of the evening. You’ll pat yourself on the back in the morning!

3.    Avoid giving gifts in the form of food.  It’s a time-honored tradition to give cookies, caramels, popcorn balls and many other delicious holiday sweets.  But times have changed, as obesity rates continue to grow.  Changes must start at home.  Rather than sending a dish full of fudge to your co-workers, give something that will last and create a memory.  Ornaments are easy to make and inexpensive to buy.  Instead of a baking day, have a craft-making day. Kids love to create! Check out Pinterest.com and make a gift they can give their teachers.

4.    Eat before you go to a holiday dinner or party. Have a large salad full of all sorts of veggies before you head to the company dinner party.  Be aware of the fact that amazing foods are about to be screaming your name.  If you aren’t real hungry when you arrive at the party, you’ll be prepared and able to just have a taste here and there.  And you’ll be a better guest if you’re socializing instead of stuffing your face!  I’m not suggesting offending your host by passing on all of the hard work that went into the night’s preparations. Go ahead and enjoy the wonderful flavors of the season.  It’s the over-indulging that will get you. By filling your belly with vegetables and space-taking leafy greens, you stay in control, and maintain your hard-earned figure.

5.    Maintain restful sleep.  Recent research shows that just four nights of sleep deprivation can affect your insulin sensitivity. When you don’t get enough sleep, your fat cells respond in a way that leaves you groggy and irritable, and craving sugar. We’ve all heard that obesity and lack of sleep appear to go hand and hand. Now there is evidence that your need for sleep goes to a cellular level.  Pay attention to the nights you were able to sleep soundly.  What created that sleep? Some tips to restful sleep include:  avoiding caffeine past 4:00 PM, or earlier; engaging in an evening ritual of calming activities; limiting your alcohol; and reading a good book to wind down.

I wish you the happiest, and healthiest, of holiday seasons!

Chani Overstreet is an NASM Certified Personal Trainer and co-owner of Strada Fitness & Wellness Center with her husband, Luke.  Strada is a state-of-the-art fitness studio located at 3041 Churchill Drive, Suite 100, in Flower Mound, across from Lifetime Fitness.  Call 972.330.4300 or visit www.StradaFitness.com for more information.

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