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Holiday Fitness

Local experts offer their holiday tips and tricks

story by Nicole Sharp

They’re coming. The turkeys, the hams, the stuffings, the rolls, and Aunt Celeste’s famous chocolate caramel stuffed cookies. Oh, but you worked so hard this year to lose those pounds! Despite the many stressors, this really is the most wonderful time of the year. Besides, it’s sweater weather, and there’s no better way to hide those second Thanksgiving helpings than under a warm sweater.

As you try to steer your way through the holidays without too much of a changing waist line, here are a few tried and true life hacks that just might help.

Get moving and make some memoires. Look for some fun running and/or walking opportunities—there’s no better place than the Greenbelt! Sign up the whole family. There are also a wide variety of seasonal runs this year, including Turkey runs, Christmas runs, and New Year’s runs. After the big meal, why not appreciate the changing season with a family stroll?

With the growing popularity of cooking shows and magazines, there are plenty of ways to cut back on calories while maintaining the same great taste in your holiday recipes. There’s never been a better time than now to reinvent great grandma’s famous potatoes. In case you need a few ideas, Lauren Sassadeck from Anytime Fitness in Eagle adds, “Our blog has amazing tools and tricks and tips to help stay fit during the holiday season. And you can find healthy versions of not so healthy recipes on the site as well.” Find Anytime Fitness on Facebook for fun Holiday recipes and activities throughout the season.

We all want to save calories for the big meal, but if you go in the door starving, you’re going to go overboard and feel worse. Reid Merrill of Studio Fitness Training Center in Eagle suggested starting thanksgiving dinner with a large glass of water. You will eat a lot less and feel better an hour after you eat, he advises. You can still enjoy your food, but you probably won’t feel the need to go back for seconds. It’s really pretty easy to “eat very well, enjoy your food, and not hurt yourself nutritionally by making good choices,” he says.

Get some sleep, although sometimes that can be tough during the holidays. Between getting everything organized for the big celebrations, the food cooked, and those last minute presents wrapped, who has time for visions of sugar plums? Still, getting a good night’s sleep seems to be the best gift you can give yourself. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, a good night’s sleep can help maintain a strong immune system, reduce stress, and can even help keep you slim.

The holiday season tends to be synonymous with an overabundance of visiting friends, dinners, parties, and family. Let’s be honest, sometimes things get a little overwhelming. Jason Pumphrey of the Idaho Athletic Club advises, “Making time for yourself is important during the holidays, and exercise is the best remedy for stress.”  Even if it’s just taking a time-out for a short walk, even small amounts of exercise can go a long way towards alleviating holiday stress.

If the weather is too daunting, you can always get a head start on that New Year’s resolution and head to the gym. So many area fitness centers are very affordable, helpful, and are offering great holiday specials.

The last helpful hint we found for you, and maybe most important one, is to always remember to be kind, especially to yourself. In this season of giving, give yourself a break. If you have a piece of pumpkin pie after you told yourself you weren’t going to, don’t let it get in the way of the important things. Smiling with friends, laughing with family, and celebrating traditions is what the holidays are really about.