Friday, December 12, 2014

GUEST COMMENTARY: 10 tips to staying fit through holiday season

KANSAS CITY, KAN. – The holidays are often associated with two things: gifts and food.

While running around the mall grabbing last-minute presents might help to burn some calories, studies show that Americans gain at least one pound over the holidays (usually more) and over the years these pounds can really add up.

Parties, get-togethers, sit-down dinners and stress-eating make keeping weight in check extremely difficult around the holidays.

Here are ten tips from Vatterott-Kansas City Personal Fitness Trainer Instructor Cherrie Castro for staying fit through the holiday season.

  • Find an exercise buddy.  The harder you try to stick to an exercise program, the harder people try to lure you away, especially during the holidays.  Find an exercise partner and make a commitment to exercising together and supporting each other through the season. 
  • Pop in an extra workout.  If you’re eating more calories than usual, balance it out with one extra workout a week.  Getting in just one extra can help fight those pounds.
  • Make exercise an event you can’t miss.  Don’t look at exercise as less important than other things on your to-do list.  Mark it on your calendar and commit yourself to it, just as you would with a holiday gathering.
  • Take a stand!  Instead of sitting down at events or parties, make a point to keep standing and walking around from time to time when you can.  It can be easy to stay sedentary at events if you don’t pay attention. 
  • Distract your mouth – with mint!  Studies also show that peppermint suppresses the appetite and impacts the tastes of other foods.  Try popping in a breath mint or swiping on peppermint lip gloss, or even sucking on a candy cane – it takes a long time to eat and will keep your hands occupied.
  • Eat with your non-dominant hand. This simple trick will slow you down when you are chowing down, making you more aware of how much you are eating.  One study found it helps eaters reduce their intake by a whopping 30 percent!
  • Go for lean meats, fruits and veggies. Have a healthy snack before the party, then you’ll be less likely to crave the fatty cheese platter or sugary cookies.  At the party, fill your plate with raw fruits, veggies (hold the ranch dip) and lean meats such as shrimp or turkey slices.
  • Make the most of your other holiday activities.  There are other holiday activities that can involve moving such as shopping, looking at neighborhood decorations, picking out a tree, etc.  Maximize the fitness level you get out of those with brisk walking, shopping in a store instead of only online, etc. 
  • Get enough sleep.  It’s easy to stay out late during the holidays but getting enough sleep can help control your appetite any time of the year. It’s especially crucial to get enough Z’s during December when you’re probably eating more.
  • Bend, don’t break.  ‘Tis the season to bend the rules, not break them.  Consider the holidays a time to maintain fitness, rather than set new fitness goals.  On the days when you have so much to do and just can’t seem to get yourself to exercise, tell yourself that you’re only going to do one set of exercises, and then stick to it.

Vatterott College offers a Personal Fitness Trainer Diploma program where students receive instruction from experienced fitness experts. The Personal Fitness Trainer program begins with an introduction to anatomy and physiology, fundamental nutrition concepts, and a personal wellness overview. Classes progress toward advanced topics such as kinesiology, exercise psychology, and a comprehensive personal trainer externship.