Having a healthy holiday


Barbara Prevost-Nedd, Staff Writer/Social Media Editor

After Thanksgiving, and all the feasting on traditional fairs like belly busting turkey and gravy, ham – baked to golden perfection –  and maybe, a heavenly piece of over-indulgent dessert to top off your meal, the reality of weight gain is likely at hand.


With December upon us, there will be parties to attend with lots of rich foods, not to mention lots of cooking at home with the family.


People often feel that holiday festivities leads to lots of excess weight gained, which ironically, is not supported by current research. Nevertheless, research does support the need to limit weight gain during the holidays.


According to an article in Webmd.com “weight gain during the holidays is a fat, ugly myth.  Very few people really gain as much as five pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years.”


The Webmd.com article, used a study which appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine in March 2000 as evidence, “People who were overweight or obese to begin with [during the holidays], were more likely to gain five pounds or more during the initial six-month  season.”


Author Jack A. Yanovski, MD, and a growth and obesity expert at The National institutes of Health, who was interviewed for this study, stated that “this is a good/bad news story.“


“The good news is that most people are not gaining five or six pounds during the holidays, but the bad news is that weight gained over the winter holidays isn’t lost during the rest of the year.”


Clearly, even if many people do not gain as much weight during the holidays as they feel they have, a good eating and exercise routine during the often busy periods of the holiday season, is a good approach to maintaining good health.


So what are ways to maintain one’s weight by exercising and eating right during the holiday season?


One option is to keep workouts as simple as possible.  For instance, put on some comfortable walking shoes and go for a brisk walk.  For added intensity to your walk, include hills when possible, walking for at least an hour.


In an article written in nbcnews.com, fitness expert, Ann Green, M.S, who is also a past heptathlon world athlete, cited some of the benefits of walking.  “Walking improves fitness, cardiac health, alleviates depression and fatigue, improves mood and creates less stress on joints,”  Green said.


Another good way to increase the intensity of your walk is to do some strength training with dumbbells after a brisk short walk to warm up your muscles.


There are endless dumbbell workouts online.  For example, Womenshealthmag.com has a 20 minute full-body dumbbell workout which includes a pair of 10 to 20 pound dumbbells.


Still another effective and economical workout is to go for a hike.  How about recruiting a friend to join you on your hike?  The benefits of hiking include working the core and natural stress relief, according to an article at health.harvard.edu.


A good exercise routine is just one part of staying healthy during the busy holiday season.  Next, eating healthy meals will satisfy your hunger, lessening the need to fill up on the rich, often unhealthy foods of the holiday season.


Tips for eating healthy, according to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, include: Make half your plate fruits and vegetables, choosing a range of colors in your vegetable choices – orange, red and dark-green vegetables, make half the grains you eat whole grains, choose a variety of lean protein foods, and drink water instead of sugary drinks.


Other tips for healthy eating are abundant online.  Eat whole foods- that is, foods that you could actually grow, is one of 25 ways to eat healthy based on an article in self.com.


Making the time for quick workouts, and making smart eating choices during the holidays will result in better health and very likely, less weight gain during the holidays.