But now, as you begin the countdown to 2012, all that vim and vigor might have given way to sluggishness and exhaustion.
Does this sound like you? If so, you are not alone.
“The period between Thanksgiving and the New Year is always hectic,” says Matt Scott, a personal trainer at Lincoln Impact Fitness. “We overschedule and overextend ourselves, so it’s no wonder that we may feel totally wiped out by the time January rolls in.”
To make matters worse, we often eat badly and don’t exercise as regularly as we should, all of which can lead to that “weak and weary” feeling, Scott says.
“If you are like most people, you probably overindulged in heavy fats and refined sugars, which is a typical fare at holiday parties. It takes a great deal of energy to digest a large and heavy meal. It’s no secret that eating this kind of food and not getting enough healthy nutrients will sap your energy,” he points out.
Not only that, but when you are tired, your immune system is weakened and more receptive to all kinds of ailments, such as cold and flu viruses, and even depression.
When you feel like this, the last thing you probably want to do is exercise, but that’s exactly what you should be doing – no matter how “worn out” you are.
Plenty of evidence indicates physical activity is one of the best remedies to combat the after-holiday crash. One study, conducted a few years ago by researchers at Georgia University, revealed that even low-intensity workouts can reduce fatigue by 65 percent and boost energy levels up to 20 percent.
To pack the most fatigue-busting benefits into your workout, Scott suggests choosing vigorous and brisk activities that will make your heart work harder than it does when you are inactive.
“While you work out, your heartbeat increases and more oxygen-rich blood flows through the brain,” Scott explains. “As a result, you feel more energetic and invigorated. It’s really quite simple.”
So, if post-holiday “blahs” make you listless, a “sweat session” may be just what you need to recharge your batteries and rev up your engine for the New Year, Scott says.
Plan time for exercise. Exercise helps relieve holiday stress and prevent weight gain. A moderate and daily increase in exercise can help partially offset increased holiday eating. Try 10- or 15-minute brisk walks twice a day.
Don’t skip meals. Before leaving for a party, eat a light snack like raw vegetables or a piece of fruit to curb your appetite. You will be less tempted to over-indulge.
Survey party buffets before filling your plate. Choose your favorite foods and skip your least favorite. Include vegetables and fruits to keep your plate balanced.
Eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed. Savor your favorite holiday treats while eating small portions. Sit down, get comfortable, and enjoy.
Be careful with beverages. Alcohol can lessen inhibitions and induce overeating; non-alcoholic beverages can be full of calories and sugar.
If you overeat at one meal go light on the next. It takes 500 calories per day (or 3,500 calories per week) above your normal/maintenance consumption to gain one pound. It is impossible to gain weight from one piece of pie!
Take the focus off food. Turn candy and cookie making time into non-edible projects like making wreaths, dough art decorations or a gingerbread house. Plan group activities with family and friends that aren’t all about food. Try serving a holiday meal to the community, playing games or going on a walking tour of decorated homes.
Bring your own healthy dish to a holiday gathering.
Practice Healthy Holiday Cooking. Preparing favorite dishes lower in fat and calories will help promote healthy holiday eating. Incorporate some of these simple-cooking tips in traditional holiday recipes to make them healthier.
Gravy — Refrigerate the gravy to harden fat. Skim the fat off. This will save a whopping 56 gm of fat per cup.
Dressing — Use a little less bread and add more onions, garlic, celery, and vegetables. Add fruits such as cranberries or apples. Moisten or flavor with low fat low sodium chicken or vegetable broth and applesauce.
Turkey – Enjoy delicious, roasted turkey breast without the skin and save 11 grams of saturated fat per 3 oz serving.
Green Bean Casserole — Cook fresh green beans with chucks of potatoes instead of cream soup. Top with almonds instead of fried onion rings.
Mashed Potato — Use skim milk, chicken broth, garlic or garlic powder, and Parmesan cheese instead of whole milk and butter.
Quick Holiday Nog — Four bananas, 1-1/2 cups skim milk or soymilk, 1-1/2 cups plain nonfat yogurt, 1/4 teaspoon rum extract, and ground nutmeg. Blend all ingredients except nutmeg. Puree until smooth. Top with nutmeg.
Desserts — Make a crustless pumpkin pie. Substitute two egg whites for each whole egg in baked recipes. Replace heavy cream with evaporated skim milk in cheesecakes and cream pies. Top cakes with fresh fruit, fruit sauce, or a sprinkle of powdered sugar instead of fattening frosting.
Enjoy the holidays, plan a time for activity, incorporate healthy recipes into your holiday meals, and don’t restrict yourself from enjoying your favorite holiday foods. In the long run, your mind and body will thank you.
Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, tis’ the season of temptation – plenty of food and drink, all of which seems to be calling your name. It takes loads of self-control not to cave in, especially if everyone around you indulges like there’s no tomorrow.
Even if you end up gaining only a pound or two each holiday season, studies show that you might carry this extra weight for years to come. As the saying goes: a moment on the lips leads to a lifetime on the hips – and around your waist, belly, as well as other parts of your body. Not to mention the havoc all this heavy food is likely to wreak on any pre-existing conditions you may already have, such as elevated blood pressure and cholesterol level, as well as type 2 diabetes.
But don’t worry – there are ways to avoid the holiday food trap and still satisfy your taste buds. It’s all a matter of making smart “no excuses, no regrets” choices.
Ready? So let’s start with…
…six waistline-expanding, fat-packing meals and snacks you should run away from.
Nutritional trap no. 1: Eggnog
Yes, it’s delicious, we don’t deny that. However, with ingredients like eggs, sugar, whipping cream, and bourbon, it is also a caloric bomb. One cup has over 300 calories, 150 milligrams of cholesterol, and 21 grams of sugar, which is nearly as much as the daily limit recommended by the American Heart Association of 36 grams for men and 21 grams for women.
If you love the taste of eggnog and don’t want to give it up altogether, opt for a healthier version made with ½ cup of egg substitute, 2 cups of low-fat milk, ½ cup of fat-free creamer, 2 tbs of sugar substitute, 1 tsp vanilla, and ½ tsp of cinnamon or pumpkin spice. One cup of this “better-for-you” eggnog contains 156 calories and 18.8 milligrams of cholesterol – hands down a better choice than the “real” McCoy.
Nutritional trap no. 2: Spinach and artichoke dip
Okay, so spinach and artichokes are healthy, but blend them with mayo, sour cream and cream cheese, and you can do some serious damage – 285 calories and 17 grams of fat per serving!
(As a general rule, any dip that’s creamy and/or cheesy will be laden with fat and calories).
A better bet: Tomato-based salsa, which has (on average) only 36 calories per serving and no cholesterol.
Nutritional trap no. 3: Dark turkey meat with skin, which has 70 more calories and three times more fat per serving than white meat without skin. Stuff it with a traditional stuffing (breadcrumbs, sausage meat, and other “heavy” ingredients) and you will be stuffed too. Make a much healthier (and lighter) stuffing mixing together and baking mushrooms, chestnuts, onions, and – for a sweet / tangy touch – chunks of apples.
Nutritional trap no. 4: Candied yams. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a yam. It is a good source of fiber, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium, while being very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. However, bake it with brown sugar and top it with marshmallows, and you are asking for trouble: at least 400 calories per serving, 38 grams of sugar – more than the recommended daily allowance – 10 milligrams of cholesterol, and 240 milligrams of sodium. Is this really what you want?
Consider instead a healthier and lighter version of this dish, a sweet potato casserole. Even without sugar and marshmallows, it retains its natural sweetness and is more figure-friendly.
Or, you can think out of the box and incorporate the sweet potato into a hearty yet healthy tart – see recipe below.
Nutritional trap no. 5: Cakes and pies. The calories and fat content in most traditional holiday baked goods is incredibly high. For example, a serving of fruitcake covered in marzipan packs in whooping 280 calories and nearly 7 grams of fat. If you absolutely must have a piece of something sweet, opt for angel food cake. Made from egg whites, it’s virtually fat-free, with only 72 calories per slice.
Nutritional trap no. 6: Any food that’s deep-fried, full of saturated fat, sugar, or salt is best avoided – no matter how good it (momentarily) tastes.
Does this mean you have to give up all the holiday treats and stand in a corner eating lettuce while everyone else is having a feast?
Not at all! You can still enjoy most of the foods…
…as long as you follow these three steps (and not just during the holidays):
1) Conscious /mindful eating
Let us explain:
1) Don’t just pile up your plate with everything that’s on the table – or you’ll end up consuming far too many calories and too much fat (as you can see in the Nutritional Trap examples cited above). Instead, decide ahead of time how many calories you can safely take in, and then choose which foods you can eat without guilt.
2) Practice portion control. Put just a little serving of the foods you selected on your plate and absolutely NO SECOND HELPINGS!
3) Do we even need to tell you how important it is to exercise during this “all-you-can-eat” season? No matter how tired you are or how hectic your schedule is, NEVER skip your workouts. Even a shortened version of your regular routine will help burn off some of the fat and calories, and keep the extra weight from making itself at home on your body.
Yes, it is a challenge to stay on track with your food and drink intake during the holidays, but you are not alone! Contact me today for more information, guidance, and encouragement on healthy eating and weight control.
“When nothing is certain, everything is possible.”
Sweet potato, red onion, and Fontina tart
Recipe and photo from: Eating Well Magazine
Sweet potato is a delicious and nutritious source of fiber, as well as beta-carotene and vitamins C and A, both of which are powerful antioxidants. As for red onions, they are rich in vitamin C and B6, potassium, and folic acid. They also contain flavonoids, which are known to prevent heart disease and cancer. Try this roasted-vegetable tart, which is a great alternative to traditional (and much heavier) candied yams.
Ingredients for 12 servings:
3/4 cup walnuts
1 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour (see Note)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme and/or rosemary
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
7 tablespoons ice-cold water
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced red onion
1 cup shredded Fontina or Cheddar cheese
1 large egg white mixed with 1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme and/or rosemary
TIPS & NOTES:
Make Ahead Tip: Prepare the crust (Step 2), wrap tightly and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 6 months. Cool, cover and refrigerate the baked tart for up to 1 day. Reheat at 350°F for about 20 minutes.
Ingredient Note: Whole-wheat pastry flour has less gluten-forming potential than regular whole-wheat flour and helps ensure tender baked goods.
Per serving: 309 calories; 18 g fat (4 g sat, 10 g mono ); 10 mg cholesterol; 30 g carbohydrates; 7 g protein; 3 g fiber; 332 mg sodium; 177 mg potassium.
Carbohydrate Servings: 2
Exchanges: 2 starch, 3 1/2 fat
Nutrition Note: Vitamin A (140% daily value)
You have just worked out and broke some sweat. Now it is time to replenish your body with a tall glass of refreshing, cold … chocolate milk.
Surprised? Don’t be! A new University of Texas study found that low-fat chocolate milk is a great post-exercise drink.
“After resistance training, it is very important to help the body recuperate,” says Matt Scott, a personal trainer at Prairie Life in Lincoln. “This new research confirms that chocolate milk is excellent for this purpose because it has a good carbohydrate to protein ratio, which helps replenish energy systems, as well as repair and build more muscle than traditional sports drinks.”
We all know that cigarettes are bad for us. But research conducted by the U.S. Department of Health, in conjunction with the University of Hong Kong, shows that a sedentary lifestyle can be as detrimental to our health as smoking.
Several other studies also found that prolonged sitting makes us more prone to heart disease – already the leading killer of Americans – as well as cancer, obesity, diabetes and even premature death.
“We’ve always known that sitting for long stretches of time can make us more vulnerable to serious diseases,” says Matt Scott, a personal trainer at Lincoln IMPACT Fitness in Lincoln.
Despite medical advances in recent years in preventing diabetes, a just-released study shows that the number of people suffering from this disease worldwide has more than doubled in the past 30 years.
This research demonstrates that currently 347 million people around the world have this invasive and often debilitating sickness, which can lead to heart disease, stroke and even premature death, especially in people who have other risk factors such as obesity.
These alarming findings should strike a chord among Americans, because the incidence of diabetes in the United States is increasing twice as fast as in Western Europe, says Matt Scott, a personal trainer at Lincoln IMPACT Fitness in Lincoln.
We all know that regular exercise goes a long way in preventing some deadly diseases. But did you know that it can also greatly improve our mental health and emotional well-being?
A new study from Southern Methodist University in Dallas and the University of Vermont in Burlington shows that people who regularly work out are less likely to suffer from anxiety disorders (such as panic attacks) and depression in general.
“A severe panic attack is a frightening experience, which can happen to otherwise healthy individuals,” says Matt Scott, a personal trainer at Prairie Life in Lincoln.
Scott notes that nearly 19 million adult Americans suffer from some kind of anxiety disorder.
“They can strike anywhere, at any time, making sufferers feel very ill,” he says. “That’s why it is so important to find ways to prevent these attacks from happening.”
Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disorder that affects about 37,000 Nebraska residents.
While there is no cure at the present time, a growing body of evidence suggests that physical exercise is one of the most effective ways to prevent this invasive disease, which impairs memory and thinking skills. According to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation (ARPF), over 5 million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s so far and, because the population of the U.S. is aging, the number of cases will continue to rise.
“Fortunately, regular physical fitness can forestall the onset of this incurable condition,” says Matt Scott, a personal trainer at Lincoln Impact Fitness. He points to data showing that exercise reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 50 percent.
Research has shown that regular physical activity can help reduce pain, swelling and stiffness of arthritis. However, a new study suggests that the majority of 46 million arthritis sufferers in the United States are not getting enough – or any – exercise.
The just-released findings from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine show that only 13 percent of men and 8 percent of women afflicted with various forms of arthritis meet federal guidelines of 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity, low-impact activity per week.
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The IMPACT program was the idea of Dr. John Spencer Ellis, founder of the National Exercise Sports Trainers Association and The Adventure Boot Camp Program. John and his team at NESTA did research on the best format for fat burning and muscle conditioning and came up with the formula for IMPACT.
John invited Kelli Calabrese, Clinical Exercise Specialist and Master Trainer to co-create the program including the original 12 IMPACT Method workouts. Together John and Kelli have 45 years of experience in the fitness industry and have amassed 7 college degrees and a combined 35 fitness, nutrition and lifestyle certifications. Kelli and John have many media appearances to their credit including NBC, ABC & CBS. They have spoken internationally, have co-authored books and fitness programs and have dedicated their lives to the pursuit of well being and fitness.
Kelli and John have poured all of their years working with clients from weekend warriors to athletes into the IMPACT program. They have read research, interviewed coaches and taken all of their successes with the Adventure Boot Camp program and wrapped it into the IMPACT Method for you to get the most excellent results.