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10 Dec 2013

9 Ways to Celebrate Health and Fitness this Holiday Season

For many of us, the holidays are a rush of time-saving measures. A postcard with a family photo has replaced a handwritten Christmas card, and our Christmas tree comes out of a box in the attic rather than a wooded field. With December 25th approaching quickly, skipping your workout is as tempting as indulging in another sleigh-shaped sugar cookie.

When December rolls around, I encourage my clients to see the holidays as a meaningful celebration rather than a frenzy of fattening foods and feverish shopping. After all, counting your blessings adds up many of your reasons for staying fit and healthy.

When you’re healthy, you have more energy for the loved ones sitting around your holiday table. Eating nutritiously and exercising regularly can ease holiday stress. Being fit means keeping up with your son or daughter. When you live a healthy lifestyle, you are inspiring others with whom you wish to spend many more Christmases.

In many ways, taking the time to eat well and exercise is a better gift to those you love than anything you find at the mall.

Being motivated is your first step towards sticking to your fitness goals. When your calendar is filled with high-calorie potlucks and high-stress shopping, sound strategies can take you the rest of the way. When you use the tips below, you’ll be ready to sprint into the New Year.

  1. Shorten your workouts when you are short on time. The holidays are an opportunity to learn a lesson in balance. Between working, shopping and socializing, a long run may be more stressful than beneficial. If you run half the distance, you can practice the art of celebrating your accomplishment even if it falls short of your original expectation.
  2. Work out early in the morning. With so many names on our gift list, it’s easy to put off taking care of ourselves. Shorter days and heavier meals make evening workouts difficult. Making exercise your first activity of the day will give your mood and self-esteem a boost while making your health a priority. Remember to go easy on your sleepy, un-caffeinated brain by preparing your workout clothes and water bottle the night before.
  3. Schedule yourself for an event. There is nothing like the motivation of money spent. When you pay the registration for a New Year’s Day 5K or pay for December’s training sessions at the beginning of the month, you are more likely to reach your fitness goals.
  4. Build a community of health-minded individuals. You’re not going to eat that Christmas turkey by yourself, so why go to the gym by yourself? Most areas have running groups or weight support groups. If you prefer the buddy system, scout out a handful of people who can keep you motivated. One friend may enjoy the same exercise class as you, while another may have some great recipes for healthy meals. Or you can bring your healthy lifestyle to a new level when you work with an experienced wellness coach.
  5. Drink plenty of water. People who drink water lose more weight and keep it off longer. One study even suggests that drinking water alone can increase your metabolism by 30 percent. Mild dehydration can cause fatigue and cravings for salty foods. Drinking two cups of water before a meal will reduce the amount of calories you eat. Most importantly, drinking half your body weight in ounces in water daily brings calm and balance to your body.
  6. Bring a healthy dish to potlucks. Cut vegetables with dip make a healthy and filling appetizer. And most grocery stores sell ready-made vegetable platters to save you time. The protein in mixed nuts satisfies hunger. Fresh salsa and organic blue tortilla chips, also readily available, are a good source of antioxidants.
  7. Make simple swaps in your favorite recipes. You can reduce calories and improve taste by replacing oil with applesauce in breads and muffins. When you use Yukon Gold potatoes with skins, your mashed potatoes will be creamier and contain more potassium and fiber. Organic butter contains healthy omega-3 fats without the harmful trans-fats found in margarine. And you can lose weight when you use coconut oil in some of your favorite dishes.
  8. Celebrate the nutrition in holiday meals. It’s easy to focus on everything bad about holiday feasting; sugar in pumpkin pie, calories in eggnog, even fat in the turkey can make your inner health nut crack in hopeless despair. Prepared sensibly, the high nutrient content of favorite holiday dishes should be enjoyed year-round. Turkey provides B-vitamins and protein. Cranberries fight cancer and pumpkin is loaded with vitamin A.
  9. Invest in your health by calling Mind Body Motion today. Sometimes, it feels like really good health–the kind that infuses you with energy and gets you thinking about possibilities again–is about as realistic as Santa Claus. That’s when the team at MBM can help you see a future without the pain of injuries, the burden of extra weight, or the shackles of chronic illness. When you call us, we’ll give you a free consultation and tour of our facilities. Most importantly, you’ll be investing in a healthy lifetime of counting your blessings.

From advent calendars to department store commercials, it’s easy to focus on the clock ticking toward holiday celebrations. Keeping your attention on your fitness goals will help center you on the meaning of the holiday season. A healthy lifestyle raises your awareness of your body. From there, it’s a short step inward to nurture your spirit.

“Keep on moving”

Luis Ponce Sr.

(408) 778-5577

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