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Maintaining Fitness Goals During the Holidays

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For many, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of one of the most challenging periods for the effective management of food consumption. The holiday is the starting block from which we all dive into a month long struggle against many food and drink temptations. Don't let this Thanksgiving start you on a decline in your commitment to healthy eating, regular exercise and sensible prioritizing. With a little careful planning you can get through Thanksgiving and the Holiday season without gaining any weight and still enjoy the delicious, seasonal fare. First of all be sure you are armed with knowledge about the food you are eating and the exercise you are choosing. You must burn 3,500 calories more than you take in to lose just one pound. Knowing how many calories you burn while exercising and how many calories are in the foods that you are eating can help you manage your weight during this holiday and for the years to come. Actual calories burned from an activity varies with the intensity of your efforts as well as your body weight, but here are some averages of calories burned per hour for a variety of exercises you might try--Bicycling 6 mph 240; Bicycling 12 mph 410; Jogging 5.5 mph 740; Jogging 7 mph 920; Jumping rope 750; Running in place 650; Running 10 mph 1,280; Skiing (cross-country) 700; Swimming 25 yds/min 275; Swimming 50 yds/min 500; Tennis (singles) 400; Walking 2 mph 240; Walking 4 mph 440. As you can see, you probably burn fewer calories than you think so be sure that you are not fooling yourself into thinking that you have "earned" extra calories due to your workout. Too often people rationalize over consumption by declaring the virtues of their workout when in reality the number of calories that they burned was far less than what they chose to eat. The approximate calories found in some of the foods that you might enjoy this holiday season are--3 ounces turkey, white meat, skin removed-119; ¼ cup gravy-30; 2 ounces cranberry sauce-86; ½ cup mashed potatoes-119; ½ cup bread stuffing-178; 1 medium sweet potato-103; Average slice pecan pie-500; Average slice apple pie-411; Average slice of pumpkin pie-316; 10 chestnuts-206; 1 cup hot chocolate-(w/nonfat milk)-150; 1 ounce (12 chips) potato chips-160; 4 oz glass of egg nog (w/o alcohol)-350; 4 oz glass of wine-100: 4 oz cranberry cosmopolitan-150. Again, be sure to look at the portion sizes and realize that you are likely eating more than the amounts listed here. For example, most people have 1 cup of mashed potatoes and one cup of bread stuffing. By doubling your portion size on just those two items (and adding some butter to the potatoes!!) you have increased your calorie intake by close to 400 calories (the equivalent of a fast-paced, hour-long walk)!! Now that you have some information, you can make smart choices this holiday season. Don't sacrifice eating the foods that you enjoy-life is short, you know-just be aware of what you are eating and how much. Choose foods you really enjoy and pass on the others. Avoid nibbling on foods just because they are there in front of you (you will eat more than you realize and you won't really enjoy the food since it is rather mindless consumption). Watch out for alcohol, there are lots of hidden calories in the mixers and in the alcohol itself. Control your portion sizes (by having a little taste of lots of different foods you will feel as if you have enjoyed all of the wonderful offerings without over doing things). Use a small plate when you can so that you can't fit as much on your plate. Try to avoid going to a party hungry by having a light, healthy snack before you leave (a small cup of yogurt with nuts or some baby carrots with humus) . Fill up on water. Shift your focus for the holidays away from food and instead socialize with friends and enjoy some relaxing time. Be sure to find time for exercise each day. Whether it is a quiet morning walk or a fun family hike, there is time for something no matter how busy you are-just make it a priority! Don't try to lose weight during the holidays, but rather maintain your current weight. Set your sights on a maintenance plan and consider keeping food and exercise records to keep you on track. Maintenance=Success!!! Healthy eating and regular exercise are important lifestyle habits that we need to adopt not only during the holidays, but all year long. Now's the time to get started!! Have a happy, healthy holiday season.

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