Turkeys, wines, and pies, oh my! Yes, that’s right, the holidays are coming.  This is my favorite time of the year. Why? The joy, the giving, the spirit, and let’s not forget about the food. Ah yes, the food; the cornerstone of the holidays, the reason why we enjoy the joyous occasions,  what brings families together, and what makes the scale go up. What? You can prevent that unwanted holiday weight that tends to linger after fall begins, and for the months to follow, by not indulging in food, sweets, and alcohol as freely. This is intended to help you keep up your commitment to those fitness goals that were made when summer began and stay motivated during the toughest time to keep your fitness goals in mind. Your body, health, and overall well-being should not be compromised over a few cheat days. A few cheat days will not compromise your goals, it’s believing that since you are going to have these cheat days you should not try to reduce the effects of them. How can we stay motivated, adapt to the foods, and stay active? We don’t have to go so far out of our way to enjoy the time with our families and stay committed to our goals, we just have to combine the two.

The food may be the most enjoyable during these festive times that awaits us but let’s be honest, most of us don’t eat they way we do during the holidays on a normal basis. By that I mean that we usually don’t go for seconds, or thirds, indulge in dessert, and finish off a few bottles of wine at the dinner table. Not to say that you should not enjoy yourself, but think about how much that can effect you  afterwards. ‘Well maybe, I can have a little bit more.’ If you hear a little voice in your head saying this, stop listening to it and wait to see how full you actually feel.  It takes roughly 20 minutes before your brain begins to register that you are full, meaning there is a bit of a delay before that feeling of ‘stuffed’ settles in. Also, ‘just a little bit more’ could mean the difference of not being able to fit into your favorite pair of jeans or still being able to wear them after the holidays.  Slow down, don’t rush, enjoy the food, wine, sweets, and be aware of that little voice that says, ‘just a little bit more.’

In-Shape is growing, and luckily enough, there may be a gym where you are going or nearby. Why not do the research? It’s only a click away, simply go to inshapeclubs.com and look at the different locations that we have to offer, there are over 60 clubs to choose from.  Most of us begin to make plans at least a month ahead of time, therefore if you have family coming into town get them some guest passes. If you are traveling out of town for the holidays, make sure to bring a gym bag with you. This does not mean that you are bringing it just to bring it, it means that you plan on being active at some part of the holiday break. For example, let’s say you are going to a town where there is a 5k or 10k run traditionally on Thanksgiving morning, ask your relatives if they and anyone they know would be interested in joining and doing it with you.  Is there a park nearby that you and a cousin, aunt, uncle, or anyone would be willing to go for a walk just for the sake of taking a walk. Let’s be honest, the holidays can be very hectic for us especially with so many people with different agendas and with so many mouths to feed. As opposed to bottling in that stress, take a walk and bring a family member along. It can really help to create a healthy bonding atmosphere much like the dinner table can on a festive holiday.

The most important idea that you must keep in mind is that though the holidays are coming there is no need to be fearful of the effects of it if you have a strategy.  Don’t overeat by slowing down between servings, be active, and most importantly invite your family members to do so as well. As much as this time of the year is about festivities and giving, either thanks or gifts, the gift of health is something that is priceless and has no monetary value. If you have made a change in your life to be more active this year, think about what your motivation is and try to help your family members find theirs. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing that you helped someone you care about make a small change in their life that lead to health, physical, and mental benefits. That is why I love what I do, and I get to do that on a daily basis, and for that I am very grateful.

-Santos Ahmed Lara CSCS