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Don’t Let Holiday Food Traditions Derail Your Weight Goals

The holidays are a special time for many, filled with new and long-standing traditions. This includes food traditions. How can you turn down grandma’s famous pecan pie or your aunt’s spectacular mashed potatoes and gravy? Your objective should not be to deprive yourself, but indulge smartly and maintain your current weight with calorie balance.

When you are experiencing calorie balance, your weight is stable. Calories consumed through food and beverages must be balanced with the calories used through physical activity and body functions such as the energy you need to make your lungs breathe, your heart beat and your brain think. Check out the CDC “Finding A Balance” video for more ideas and tips:

Tip the Scales in Your Favor

Calories In / Calories Out Scale Diagram

If you are tipping the balance on the “calories in” side with traditional holiday foods, look for ways to give your dishes a Holiday Makeover. You can also tip the scales in your favor by focusing on the “calories out” side of the scale by sustaining consistent physical activity or even bumping it up to keep extra weight from holiday parties and snacks at bay.

What does “regular physical activity” mean to you? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the following regarding physical activity levels:

  • For adults, doing:
    • 2 hours and 30 minutes every week (about 22 minutes each day or 50 minutes 3 times per week), of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, and
    • muscle-strengthening exercise on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
  • Increasing the intensity or the amount of time that you are physically active to improve health benefits and control body weight.
  • Encouraging children and teenagers to be physically active for at least 60 minutes each day, or almost every day.

Fit Physical Activity into Your Day

Don’t think you can commit to that much time in a day? Did you know that performing physical activity for just 10 minutes at a time counts toward your daily goal? If you are just starting off, do what feels comfortable for you.

As your body gets used to physical activity, add in five more minutes per session and work your way up to your daily goal. Incorporate physical activity into your holiday traditions; taking a walk after a holiday meal or playing a friendly game of football or soccer with the family.

Consider these 10 tips to fit physical activity throughout your day.

Stay Motivated

How do you keep motivated? Staying on track with your weight and wellness goals can be challenging during the holidays, but balancing your daily activity will ensure you won’t be derailed.

Remember, physical activity is not just about maintaining or achieving your weight goals. Physical activity can also reduce your risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes; reduce high blood pressure, arthritis pain, symptoms of depression and anxiety and the risk of osteoporosis and falls.

Before starting any exercise program, be sure to consult your doctor.

Guest contributor:

  • Army MAJ Deana Lawrence, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, FMP

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