Healthy Hints for the Holidays

Monday, December 20th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

SFA author Jim Evans is a 40-year veteran of the health and fitness industry and an internationally recognized senior fitness consultant. Today Jim provides practical solutions for mature adults who have concerns regarding holiday weight gain.

DEAR JIM: It seems the older I get, the more weight I gain — especially during the holidays. I seem to be able to hold my own during the rest of the year, but I probably gain at least five pounds every year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. At this rate I’ll be a blimp by 2011, and I’ll only be 69. What can I do to control my weight this holiday season?
HEFTY IN HELENA

DEAR HEFTY: The holidays are here again, and the average American can expect to gain from one to 12 pounds during the holiday season depending on what statistics you want to believe. It’s the same old story every year. Most Americans will make the same New Year’s resolution every year too: to lose weight! How to break the cycle of failure? Try these healthy hints to help you control your weight while still enjoying the holidays:

  • WALK AFTER EVERY MEAL. Instead of sitting around feeling stuffed and uncomfortable after every big meal, get up and walk. You don’t have to be a party pooper and leave your company behind to talk to themselves — invite them to walk with you. A brisk walk around the block will be invigorating for everyone, and you can continue your conversation along the way.
  • DRINK LOTS OF WATER. Drink a full 8-ounce glass of water when you first get up in the morning and right before you sit down to eat that big meal. Another helpful trick is to take a drink of water between every bite of food. All of this will help you to eat less and improve your digestion too.
  • EAT SMALLER PORTIONS. Serve yourself smaller portions — you can always go back for another serving if you are really that hungry — and cut the servings into several small pieces. Of course, this is a psychological ploy to fool your brain into thinking you are eating more than you really are, but it does work because generally you will eat less if you take smaller portions. Eat more slowly, too, instead of trying to wolf your food down as if there were no tomorrow. What’s the hurry, anyway? Enjoy!
  • EAT BREAKFAST. Be sure to eat breakfast on the day of any big holiday meal, even if you sleep in late and the meal is only a few hours away. It will keep you from eating too much at one time and help you digest your food more efficiently.
  • WALK IN PLACE. Most people will be watching lots of television during the holidays and, between all of the football games and Christmas specials, we are creating a nation of couch potatoes in just a few short months every year. Well, fight back without sacrificing your favorite television programs. How? Just stand up during every commercial and walk in place in the middle of the room. It might sound stupid, but just think about how many commercials appear on each program. You can log a lot of miles and burn a lot of calories without even leaving the house. Think you might be embarrassed in front of family and friends? That’s their problem, not yours, and you might be pleasantly surprised when they join you (it might be fun for grandchildren too!).
  • STAND UP AND SUCK IT IN. It sounds simple because it is simple. Many people walk around slouched over, shuffling along dragging their feet with absolutely no sense of energy. They are sleepwalking through life. Make a concentrated effort to stand up straight, throw your shoulders back, hold your chest high, suck in your tummy and walk with purpose. Try it while you are holiday shopping. Walk like you mean it. It takes a little more effort in the beginning, but after a while it will become a habit.

These simple suggestions can help you to have a healthier holiday season this year and every year hereafter. And, maybe you can convince Santa to join you.

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