Preparing for the holidays: Fitness and wellness hurdles

Photo By Laurie Pearson | Eating healthy during the holidays makes you feel better about yourself.



Story by Laurie Pearson 

Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow 

It is that time of year again when people may eat, drink and be a little too merry, falling off their health regimen wagons aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow.

Shelley Lamey, Semper Fit’s health and fitness director has some tips to help address the mindsets and habits that may lead people to overindulge year after year.

“One of the mindsets that cause people trouble is setting overly ambitious winter goals,” Lamey said. “Accept that you are winding down for the year.”

With relatives visiting and people traveling, there may be more meals and social gatherings. Traditional dishes which are rich in fats and carbohydrates are likely to be found at everyone’s tables.

“Instead of trying to hightail it to the gym excessively to burn calories that are coming, accept realistic plans now with a progressive action plan for when life calms down again,” Lamey said. “It’s as simple as giving yourself permission to just show up one session per week at the gym, drink an extra glass of water a day, or devote 10-15 minutes each day to walking.”

This breaks things down into simple, doable tasks to focus on and makes people feel more positive and successful.

Another difficult hurdle for most people is feeling helpless in the face of temptation. One trick is to decide, in advance, what indulgences are worth it, so you don’t go overboard, but allow yourself the enjoyment of your favorite thing. There is simply too much temptation, and it is everywhere. So have a plan.Stress can also be a big hurdle for many people around the holidays. This can trigger unhealthy habits such as eating more sweets or foregoing the exercise, which would be helpful to relieve that stress.

“When stressed, we make more emotional and impulsive decisions,” Lamey explained. “We must identify the holiday-related stress trigger points, so we aren’t caught off guard. Emotional-eating, related to stress, is just one of the challenges during the holidays. If your trigger point is ‘Aunt Clara’s’ controlling behavior in the kitchen as you are trying to cook, maybe allow her to do more of the work and you go lie down on your bed with your feet up on a pillow to relax. Perhaps try playing some meditation music with a cool cloth on your forehead as you take some nice soothing deep breaths. You get to decompress, relax and renew and Aunt Clara can stress in the kitchen. You have to ask yourself if it is better to be right or to be at peace?”

One way to beat the holiday funk, the overindulgences and the stress is to focus your holiday plans around fun rather than food.

“Instead of focusing on the inches and pounds, place the importance and value on building more family bonds by reminiscing, playing games, laughing and creating new traditions,” Lamey suggested. “Take walks together as a group. Open up the heart to this and, as the holiday season is over you, can focus on your personal goals. What you decide to eat has no bearing on the joy that is created from being together and celebrating life and creating memories you can cherish forever.”

Play a family game of dodgeball at a local park where children and adults get to take a turn kicking or throwing a large inflated ball at the other team. Shoot some hoops or play a game of “Horse” on a basketball court. Take a hike with family dogs and challenge each other to take photos of random things from strange angles, so others have to guess what the image actually depicts. Then, as holidays wind down, prepare for a new year. That should start with a realistic plan.

“Don’t decide to run a half marathon suddenly, when it’s already difficult to walk, without being out of breath, to the pizza parlor around the corner,” Lamey said. “Get with a plan to just start moving and commit to baby steps that you can build on. Go to the gym three times per week to start, and start moving with some cardio. Or, start walking every day after dinner for 30 minutes. Achieve this first goal, then build on it. Seek help from a fitness professional to design a plan that really works for you.

• Did you know that your stomach is slightly larger than your fist? Picture that when you serve yourself, if you can to help with portion control.• Having a small snack of protein like nuts or cheese an hour or so before a meal creates a level of self-control.
• Drink a glass of water when you are about to eat.
• Decide in advance that you will enjoy the dishes, but in small portions. You will feel rewarded and successful knowing you can treat yourself to everything you want, but in small quantities
• Chew your food slowly and at least ten times before putting another forkful in your mouth.
• Leave a few forkfuls on your plate instead of consuming all of it. You will reset your stomach instead of force-feeding it to the max!
• Eat lighter the day before the big celebration, and the day after to lighten the load!

• Use chicken broth in mashed potatoes instead of milk or cream.
• Use butter alternatives made with flax and olive oil, instead of butter, for fewer calories and cholesterol.
• Use more creative spices instead of increased sodium.
• Try brown rice flour for thickening your natural gravy instead of regular flour or corn starch.
• Avoid packaged products: Use the turkey juices for gravy and add the brown rice flour instead of making up a packet of gravy. You’ll consume fewer chemicals like preservatives.
• Add chicken broth, a little bit of white wine and fresh raw garlic to your turkey while baking for a delicious gravy.
• Use honey or maple syrup instead of sugars for desserts.
• Use low-fat condensed coconut milk for pumpkin pie instead of canned condensed milk.
• Use organic bread crumbs for stuffing, or make homemade cornbread for the stuffing mix.
• Try many healthy green bean dishes without the packaged fried onion mixture and canned soups. For instance, try lemon, garlic, soy sauce and rosemary baked in the oven or sautéed on the stove

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