Holiday season pep talk

Susan Dawson-Cook

Family is coming into town, parties are scheduled every night of the week and shopping and package mailing need to get done. The excitement and chaos of the holiday season has arrived. Soon that sabotaging voice in your head says, “I don’t have time to exercise and I need to splurge to deal with all this stress.”

Before you drop your running shoes in the back of the closet to collect dust, and dive into the chocolate, take a deep breath and ask yourself these questions.

1. Will I accomplish more by skipping workouts? If you’re honest with yourself, in most cases the answer will be no. An endorphin-releasing workout will reduce stress, enhance mood, give you a sense of accomplishment and make it easier to approach your day more efficiently. Every single one of my top productive days has included an hour of exercise.

2. Will I fully enjoy the holidays if I let my healthy lifestyle program go? Remember, exercise is stress management and so you will feel calm and happy and more in the moment after exercise. Eating a well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables (rather than overpowered by chocolates, pies and multiple glasses of wine) will optimize mood and energy levels and remediate stress. Salmon and spinach are two of my favorite healthy, mood enhancing foods.

3. Do I want to pack on several pounds and start the New Year in a slump? Even though most people cringe at the thought of weight gain, many also resent disciplining eating during the holidays. My suggestion is to lose the all or nothing philosophy. Instead of adopting a restrictive diet or an anything goes eating and drinking program, try eating healthy throughout the day and then sampling favorite treats on special occasions. Then you won’t feel deprived. Remember, you have to consume an excess of 3500 calories to put on a pound. So if you have one piece of pie at a party, but ate healthy the rest of the day, you will be fine. What you want to avoid is eating two pieces of pie and washing that down with four glasses of wine, which then leads you to try a bit of chocolate as well!

4. Am I here for the food? At parties, focus on connecting with others instead of eating. Socialize a distance away from the buffet table instead of next to it where you may fall into the trap of mindless eating.

5. Can I fit in another bout of activity? If you have a few spare minutes, take a short walk, sit and stand twelve times from the couch or do a few pushups against a wall. Even a little activity is better than none.

I’m jumping up and down cheering for you, expectant that this pep talk will give you a boost and this holiday season will be your healthiest ever.

Susan is a personal trainer and instructor for Vital Moves (850-4089).