Stay Healthy During the Holidays

Part I: Exercise

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By Lisa Browdy

Health Blogger

It's the most wonderful time of the year...for weight gain. You really don't want to start your new year with an extra roll of tummy flab, do you? The five-pound holiday weight gain is not as inevitable as you think. You just have to be a little more mindful and organized than you have been in years past. Think of it as the gift you give yourself.

Personal trainer and nutrition coach Tommaso Sanna of Oak Park Fitness says it is much better to keep (or even start) a fitness routine in December than to run amok this month and get with the program in January. "After all, people want to look sexy for their holiday parties," he says.

"The point is to create a plan now, because when stress levels go up then the plans go out the window," Tommaso says. Even the enjoyable parts of the holiday season – parties, family gatherings, and finding gifts for friends – can be pretty stressful at times. And stress hormones can slow down your metabolism and lower your immune system.

Adding a short workout to your morning routine will give you more of the energy you need to tackle your to-do list and keep the pounds from creeping on. Tommaso recommends doing 30 minutes of strength training (pushups, lunges, squats, etc.) with a cardio session at the end to flush out the lactic acid that has built up in the muscles. Even a daily 20-minute walk will help you maintain your sanity and energy. And what better way to deal with all the extra calories that are presented to us this time of year? (Monday's post will discuss ways to mindfully manage our intake of holiday treats).

Those of us who aren't motivated or disciplined enough to work out regularly might want to request a holiday gift of a gym membership or a personal trainer from a loved one. You may also consider giving such a gift to someone you love that you'd like to have in your life for as long as possible (but not if the recipient is likely to take offense!).

Tomasso tells his clients to re-commit to fitness every day, and not to give up after one evening or weekend of excess. "I just tell them to hit the reset button and start over. Each day is a new opportunity to live."

Email: Twitter: LisaBrowdy

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