Follow the ground rules to stay active, healthy this holiday

OK, now you have seen the power of workouts. Congratulations! This week continue with the workout from last week; many find this week's schedule hectic as well. As we move into Christmas vacation time let's go over some ground rules.

OK, now you have seen the power of workouts. Congratulations! This week continue with the workout from last week; many find this week's schedule hectic as well. As we move into Christmas vacation time let's go over some ground rules.

First, the amount of activity you get each day matters. The Surgeon General recommends at least 30 minutes of activity each day for adults and 60 minutes for children, with a side note that more may be necessary for goals of weight loss, weight maintenance and weight gain. So get moving every day. Activity can be many things: take the stairs, park and walk, carry in your groceries, vacuum, play with your kids while their out of school, play with grandma, dance in your living room, just move! Exercise on the other hand is about goals. We move a certain amount of time, at a certain intensity so we can gain weight, lose weight, maintain health, train for an event, regulate diseases, maintain sanity. There are all sorts of reasons why we exercise.

The last four weeks we've been creating a progressive, time efficient workout to help us navigate the holiday season. We used a combination of cardiovascular and strength exercises to accomplish this. Cardiovascular work is anything that raises your heart rate for an extended period of time. Strength training should focus on at least one exercise for each major muscle group.

Second, pay attention to your food intake. Remember, food is just energy. As you reach for that bite of holiday goody think, "how much energy is in this morsel?" This will help you begin to see the connection between what you eat and why your body stores it as fat (fuel) for a later energy need. A small chocolate chip cookie (50 calories) is worth 10 minutes of brisk walking. Start thinking of your food in relation to the activities which require its energy.

Food is fuel, your body needs fuel to function, and the more you eat the more fuel you have, the more you need to store, which results in body fat. The quality of the food you eat contributes to how satisfied you are and how many nutrients and vitamins your body has, which directly affects how you feel, which can lead to a possible reason why you may want or even need to eat more. Many people have created an addiction-like response to certain foods. This pleasure response leads them to eat more of the same high calorie, low nutrient foods resulting in a cycle effect regarding food consumption. Typically, this is coupled with low activity levels, fatigue, emotional highs and lows, and general dissatisfaction.


After reading the above you may say, "I am not eating anything!" I caution this tactic.

A) it is not realistic

B) some of your favorite foods will be available, and

C) if your caloric intake is too low your body will not lose weight, gain weight, or be able to sustain the activities you do enjoy.

Remember, even during sleep your body is doing a lot of work; it needs energy.

The real solution is to be smart about food consumption. If you see a treat, sit down, eat slowly, taste each bite, smell it and be present to eating it. We call this mindful eating. When we mindfully eat we are more likely to feel satisfied by a smaller portion, we are less likely to overeat, and we are more likely to choose foods we really want to eat. How many times have you polished off a bowl or bag of something only to not remember how it tasted or why you wanted it?

Make a commitment not to do that during holiday gatherings this year. Food is important to our social rituals, our physical function, and our well-being.

Third, enjoy your days. As we move through solstice -- the shortest day of the year -- we move back toward longer days and more sunshine. T


he next few weeks are about new beginnings, family, friends, rituals and celebration. Enjoy them and those you are with. If you aim for 30 minutes of activity most days and put some focus on exercise three to five times a week coupled with smart, mindful eating practices you are well on your way to reaching your goals and creating a renewed beginning for you!

Healthy Lifestyles Weekly Challenge:

Add exercise three to five times this week for at least 30 minutes. On the other days do something active for at least 30 minutes. Begin to establish the connection between the food you eat and the reason you eat it.

Stacy Reuille-Dupont is a former fitness director and owner of Superior Balance Fitness Center and Personal Balance Consulting. She can be reached at or 392-9860.

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