Author, James  Evans, demonstrating the use of a "PAR COURSE" station. 

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Healthy Holiday Hints

8 Simple Ways to Watch Your Weight During the Holidays

James M. Evans

The holidays are here again, and the average American can expect to gain 8-10 pounds between now and December 31. 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? Try these healthy hints to help you control your weight while still enjoying the holidays:


1. WALK WHILE YOU TALK. Instead of sitting around feeling stuffed and uncomfortable after a 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.


2. DRINK LOTS OF WATER. Don’t just sip on your water bottle during the course of the day. Drink a full 8-oz glass of water when you first get up in the morning, before every meal, before every snack (but ask yourself WHY you are snacking), and before you go to bed at night. Another little 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.


3. TRY CIRCUIT TRAINING. Circuit training is more effective in burning up calories and reducing body fat than almost any other form of physical activity. It is a total body workout that stimulates your cardiovascular system while firming and toning your muscles at the same time. The best part is that it only takes about 20 minutes! It’s quick, and it’s easy. Hydraulic circuit training, in particular, is the best if you can find it at your favorite health club.


4. EAT SMALLER PORTIONS. First, serve yourself smaller portions – you can always go back for another serving if you are really that hungry – and cut the servings into several smaller 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 eat smaller portions. Eat more slowly, too, instead of trying to wolf your food down as if there was no tomorrow – what’s the hurry, anyway? Enjoy!


5. ALWAYS EAT BREAKFAST. Studies indicate that people who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight. But you don’t FEEL like eating breakfast, you say? Do it anyway. Start small with something like a glass of orange juice and a bagel, but eat something. Gradually increase your consumption until you are eating a full, healthy breakfast. If you don’t eat breakfast, you are forcing your body into a self-preservation mode, so that when you DO finally eat, it stores more fat. The main reason why many people don’t eat breakfast is simply because they are always in too much of a hurry and have gotten out of the habit. Remember, you probably ate breakfast every morning as a youngster. What happened?


6. 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 embarassed 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 the kids, too).


7. 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 Christmas shopping. Walk like you mean it. It takes a little more effort in the beginning, but after a while it will become a habit.


8. CLIMB STAIRS THE “RIGHT” WAY. You probably didn’t know there was a right way and a wrong way to climb stairs, did you? Typically you just put one foot on the step in front of you, lean forward on your toes, and lift the other foot off the ground to advance to the next step. WRONG! You will probably have knee problems if you continue climbing stairs this way. Instead, stand up straight and push off of your instep – NOT your toes – using the larger hip and thigh muscles to lift you to the next level. As these muscles become more accustomed to being used, they will become stronger and more supportive, and it will be much easier for you to climb stairs. Then, skip the elevator, and climb the stairs whenever you can. You don’t need a stairclimbing machine to get a workout if you learn to climb properly!


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.

Jim Evans is a 38-year veteran of the health and fitness industry and a nationally recognized consultant on fitness for seniors. He is also host of the popular radio talk show “Forever Young” on San Diego’s KCBQ 1170 AM ( on Saturdays at 10:00 A.M. (PST).


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