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Fitness Cheer & Holiday Fear
By Laurie Batchelder   View more articles by this author
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December 21

It’s holiday time and the New Year is just around the corner.  I know it is said that the average weight gain between Thanksgiving and the New Year is approximately 8 pounds, but so is the weight gain from a week vacation on a cruise ship.  If we were to look at both scenarios, the holiday weight gain takes place over a two month period and the vacation gain occurs within 7 to 10 days.  In order to gain 8 pounds within a week you would have to eat non-stop, however, 8 pounds over the 8 week holiday period (one pound per week or 3,500 extra calories) is very easy to achieve.  So, you could just let yourself go and worry about those extra pounds in the New Year or adjust your calorie expenditure by exercising and enjoying the holiday season just the same.

You have to make a commitment to yourself no matter what your plans are during the holidays.  You do not have to sacrifice your exercise program for any reason.  Exercise must become a necessity just like brushing your teeth.  One of the best ways to stay on track is to exercise first thing in the morning.  If this is not possible, then you need to plan your day with exercise on the top of your list.  The holiday season can be a stressful time especially during the current economy, but what better way to release those stressful feelings than with exercise.  Exercise is always the first thing people give up and think it will be no big deal to resume in the New Year.  Why would we want to give up something which is so good for us and struggle with the feelings and the discomfort of starting all over again?

Although I would like everyone to continue their current exercise program during the holidays, I understand this may not be realistic and modifications may need to be implemented.  Cardiovascular training is the type of exercise where you will expend the greatest amount of calories per minute, to avoid storing those extra 3,500 calories.  The average calorie expenditure for cardiovascular exercise is between 7 and 10 calories per minute.  If you did 30 minutes of cardio per day this would equate to between 210 – 300 calories per session or 1,470 – 2,100 per week.  If you were to add 15 minutes then your calorie expenditure increases to 315 – 450 calories per session or 2,205 – 3,150 per week.  Keep in mind, we are just talking about exercise calories.  We all expend calories getting through our day, which increases the caloric deficit even more.

Some options for expending daily calories could be parking far from the store so you have to walk more.  Shopping at a mall keeps you on your feet longer rather than getting in and out of your car.  When you are at the super market, bag your items.  Take the stairs when ever possible or walk up the escalator.  Use those unwanted fruit cakes gifts as weights (only kidding).

The underlying point is for you to understand that with a small commitment, you can avoid being part of the statistic.  Exercise also acts as an appetite depressant, therefore, we eat less.  The funny thing about the holidays is that we often go to many parties in our new clothes meeting new people and reuniting with old friends.  Why wouldn’t we want to stay on track so we look and feel good?  Think about it, what’s the first topic people discuss the day after a party aside from saying they had a great time?  You are right!  The way people look and feel.  My husband recently went to his high school reunion and there was one person who stood out among the rest simply because she worked out.  I find that whether a person exercises regularly or not, the person who is most fit gets noticed and we all know who the other people are that also get noticed.  Which person would you like to be?

Your goal for the holidays is to keep moving.  If you know you will be out at a party consuming more calories than usual, plan for it.  Eat healthy before you go and try to burn more cardiovascular calories that day.  Drinking lots of water gives you a full feeling which will aid in eating less.  Happy Holidays & Stay Healthy!

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