Healthy living: How to avoid the Jingle Bell jiggle
by Julia Blanton
Nov 19, 2010 | 1065 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
We’ve entered the time of year when cookies, candy and other temptations seem to lurk around every corner. While it is important to partake in the merriment of seasonal treats, you won’t want to begin the New Year scavenging the sale racks for a bigger pant size.

During November and December, try to strive for weight maintenance, as opposed to weight loss. By indulging selectively and staying active, you will find that you can thoroughly enjoy the holidays while avoiding the Jingle Bell jiggle.

When faced with a plethora of sweets day in and day out, the best tactic is to indulge selectively. Allow yourself to enjoy the things you truly love — in moderation, of course — and pass on everything else. This strategy will keep your overall sugar intake low, while still allowing you to take pleasure in the occasional treat. Over-consumption of sugar is a predominant cause of the unwanted jiggle, because every time you eat sweets, it creates a domino effect of calorie storage, energy spikes and crashes, and intensified sugar cravings.

It is helpful to stock up on healthy delicacies of the season, such as pomegranates, persimmons and pears. You will feel a lot less deprived passing on the cookie plate when you know you have a juicy, sweet Satsuma tangerine waiting in your purse. If you are a chocolate lover, satisfy your cravings with antioxidant-rich, low-sugar dark chocolate (say, 70 percent cacao).

When it comes to parties, plan ahead. Pick the two best parties where you can go all-out, no restrictions. For all other gatherings, follow these guidelines: Eat regular meals and snacks throughout the day, so you don't show up "starved." Drink a glass of water between alcoholic drinks, and limit alcohol consumption to two servings. Eat large portions of vegetables, medium portions of protein-rich foods, and small portions of everything else.

Squeezing in your workouts during the holiday madness may require some creativity and flexibility, but it can be done. Plan to meet up with a friend or personal trainer to reinforce accountability and ensure that you don’t bail out on your workouts. When time is tight, exercise for 20 minutes instead of 60.

Felton resident Astrid Huala, a 54-year-old violin teacher, said she will stay fit this holiday season by walking an hour each day and going to yoga once a week. She plans to enjoy a little bit of everything, but not too much of anything.

“This is the best way to live year-round,” she said

Walking or running from your house is an excellent way to fit in a short workout — and you can give it a power boost by adding a few hills or speed intervals.

If you have guests staying in your home, take them to a local park such as Fall Creek, Big Basin Redwoods or Henry Cowell Redwoods state parks for a group hike. This is a great opportunity to show off the natural treasures in our area, as well as escape the confines of an overcrowded house. Chances are, your guests will crave open air just as much as you.

Staying active through the holiday season can be challenging, but it is worth the effort, as it may very well save both your waistline and your sanity.

Franklin Roest, a 60-year-old electrician and longtime Boulder Creek resident, says that while he plans to “mostly eat healthy foods” through the holiday season, he very much looks forward to indulging in the pecan pie his wife, Diane, makes for him each year. He said he will stay active by using his elliptical trainer every other day and swimming at the San Lorenzo Valley High School pool on the weekends.

Here’s to a happy and healthy holiday season.

Julia Blanton is a nutrition, fitness and wellness coach. An avid runner, she works at Club One in Scotts Valley and keeps a health blog at www.juliablanton.com.

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