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10 Tips for Surviving Holiday Weight Gain
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Sondra E. Z. Hines, AILT, is an adjunct professor of health & wellness and is certified to teach group fitness exercise and Zumba. Wednesday Wellness - Fitness News You Can Use is published weekly. Email: sondraezhines@yahoo.com.

Ah, Thanksgiving has arrived -- a nonstop feast of fellowship, food and fat.

This holiday season, concentrate on living healthy and enjoying time with family and friends, not weight gain. In fact, you should savor the seasonal festivities. It’s possible with a few tips:

Tip #1: Get involved for the long haul. In other words, don’t add exercise just to fit into a holiday dress, etc. Make fitness a part of your daily lifestyle, and you’ll always fit into that favorite outfit. Studies show that people who are motivated externally – those who attempt to magically transform a beer gut into a six-pack -- don't stick with it. But those who make fitness a part of their daily lifestyle tend to stay in it for the long run, even during the holidays. Commit to start now!

Tip #2: Shake It Up. Find an exercise that connects with you, whether it’s walking, aerobics, Aqua Zumba or cross training. Use free weights one day, exercise bands the next, or exercise gliders another day – all which help keep muscles toned and exercise interesting. Remember to choose activities you enjoy. For example, if you are stressed about getting your hair wet, skip water aerobics.

Tip #3: Find a Buddy. We all benefit from regular exercise, so include friends and family to help keep you motivated on your fitness journey. You are less inclined to say no to a buddy who’s also working toward staying healthy. And don’t forget to include children. During the holidays, make fitness (vs. heavy eating) a family affair.

Tip #4: Start Slowly but Steadily. Don't push yourself too hard. It’s ok if you haven’t worked out in a few weeks. Take baby steps and aim for regularity. Sadly, half the people who begin a holiday/New Year exercise program jump ship within the first year of starting.

Tip #5: Be Realistic. If you’re not a trained runner, you probably won’t run a marathon by year-end. However, if you start training now, chances are you can participate in a 5k run (approximately three miles) within the first quarter of 2013. Add distance and intensity in slow but steady increments.

Tip #6: Schedule Exercise. Sounds kooky, but it works. Health experts recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. So schedule exercise into your day, just as you schedule doctor appointments, meetings, etc. When 30 minutes is not doable, divide exercise sessions into 10- or 15-minute increments. Use your smart phone as a scheduling reminder.

Tip #7: Track your progress. Journals/mobile apps work beautifully to track exercise -- how much you run, walk, lift and the amount of calories burned. They are also effective to use as food journals.

Tip #8: Be Inspired. My new mantra -- Fitness is a state of mind -- is borrowed from fitness professional/life coach Allan Fine. Stay inspired by reading industry material/websites, such as fitness columns, e.g. Qcitymetro’s Wednesday Wellness, etc., to help keep you motivated and successful. One of my favorite reads is Shape Magazine, which always offers great wellness tips.

Tip #9: Patience is a Virtue. Many years ago, when I began adding free weights to my fitness program, I found this intimidating and boring. But with patience, I saw results and now enjoy this part of my fitness program. If I had given up, this would not have happened and my arms might now be flabby.

Tip #10: Same Time…Same Place. Generally, the holidays arrive the same time annually. Therefore, plan for them by sticking to your fitness program. If you’re like me, I plan to enjoy as many home-cooked meals and holiday gatherings as I can. What I don’t welcome are unwanted pounds. Thus, I’m already committed to include exercise and eating in moderation during the holidays, so I don’t deprive myself of good food.


Until, next time, I wish you good health, nutritional wellness and a blessed Thanksgiving.
Editors Note: For more health & fitness-related articles, visit www.qcitymetro.com/health

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