Create Healthy Habits in 2012

As the Holiday Season comes to an end, many of us have thoughts of diet and exercise looming over us. Due to busy schedules and children home from school, we have placed our exercise routine and healthy eating habits on the back burner. All is not lost! Here are a few tips from our panel of expert contributors to help us through this last week of 2011 and set us up for a healthy 2012.

Get Outdoors!

Make sure you get outside and take a post-dinner walk–in fact, sprinkle your holiday with extra walks to offset the extra calories. In my outdoor fitness classes and with my individual clients I make sure they add some muscle building, strengthening exercises that boost metabolism. For example, you can do push-ups and sit-ups on a park bench–or any bench! Bring a friend and spice things up!

Nancy Bruning, President and Founder, Nancercize

Listen to Your Taste Buds

For any delicious dish, the very first taste gives you the most intense pleasure. After that exquisite first taste, each following bite is less and less flavorful. The secret to successful weight control is to NOT eat everything in sight “just because it’s there”. Be more selective. Listen to your taste buds: they won’t lie to you! Enjoy the intense flavor of food, but stop eating immediately, just as soon as the flavor begins to diminish. The benefits are enormous: you’ll keep the weight off, and everything you eat will taste great. Stop eating when the fantastic taste starts to fade.

Nasser Shukayr, Professional Square Dance Caller / Instructor

Top 10 Healthy Eating Tips for 2012

1. Incorporate at least 30 minutes of exercise into your daily routine to help offset increased holiday eating. Try walking or jogging for 15 minutes twice daily; remember exercise time accumulates – two 15 minute workouts are equivalent to one 30 minute workout.

2. Don’t skip meals. Starving yourself before a party increases the risk of overeating. In addition, the temptation to eat higher fat and higher calorie food choices intensifies if you are hungry. Before a party, eat a piece of fruit, a box of raisins, a small carton of non-fat or low-fat yogurt, or a string cheese so that you are not famished when you arrive at the party.

3. Eat fiber rich foods first so that you will feel full from “healthy foods” as opposed to refined starches which can cause a plummet in blood glucose (sugar) levels and turn into a never ending hunger cycle. Examples of high-fiber foods are fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes and whole grains.

4. If you’re hosting a party, make sure you offer your guests plenty of vegetables instead of chips and other food devoid of nutrients.

5. Offer to bring a “healthy” dish to holiday parties, that way you’ll know there will be something “safe” available.

6. Eliminate or limit high-caloric beverages such as sodas, juices, smoothies, blended coffee drinks and alcohol.
Before your first alcoholic drink, sip on a glass of water or seltzer. Do the same after your first drink. This will slow down how much you drink. And remember that alcohol increases appetite and lowers inhibitions. So the more you drink, the more you eat. Another vicious cycle.

7. At the meal, enjoy the roasted salmon, chicken, and turkey without the skin and cranberry sauce, which is naturally lower in fat and calories, and eat less of the gravy and stuffing. Select only one dessert.

8. If you are hosting a party, send the leftovers home with your guests.

9. Eat slower – you will consume less and feel full and satisfied at the same time.

10. Plan on not dieting after the New Year. Anticipation of food restrictions sets you up for binge-type eating over the holidays. Besides, restrictive diets don’t work in the long run. They increase anxiety, depression, food preoccupation, binge eating, loss of lean body mass versus fat, and makes weight re-gain more likely.

Reyna Franco, Registered Dietitian and Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition and Exercise Coaching

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