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Merry Fitness

'Tis the season!

... for cookies, pies, feasting, parties, and thrown-off schedules! While the break from our daily routine is great for our brains, it takes a toll on our bodies.

Somehow, even though we tend to take MORE time off of work and our usual activities, we have LESS time to exercise and plan a healthy meal. Somehow, even though we feel MORE joy spending time with family, friends, and a good book, we feel LESS obligated to take care of ourselves.

It's all backwards. It's all frustrating. It's all... avoidable? Yes, that's right. Just because your schedule is temporarily shifted, doesn't mean all your healthy habits have to go out the window. And no, I'm not talking about hiding under a rock until it's all over! We're going to talk about a few tips and tricks to keep you on track this holiday season. Your New Year's resolution will thank you for the head-start!
1. Exercise Now, Relax Later.

Don't wait. Whether you have a busy day or not, make exercise your first priority. And NON-negotiable!

Don't feel like you have enough time? You can even weave it into your typical activities:

Have shopping to do? Park far away and double-time your pace; Have baking to do? Every time you put something in the oven do a circuit (For example: 10 jumping jacks, 10 squats, 10 push-ups, 10 burpees, 10 whatevers);

Wrapping gifts? Same as above... every time you finish a gift, reward yourself with a circuit!

2. I don't care what event you're going to or what food you expect to be eating, DO NOT SKIP MEALS!

I have heard it time and time again, "I’m not eating anything until the party; I’m saving up…"; Here's the deal... when you skip meals (especially breakfast) your body is maintaining "fasting" mode which it entered while you were sleeping.... ever wonder where the name "break fast" came from? When you prolong your fast, a few things happen. For one, your blood sugar drops, and your ability to maintain energy, a positive attitude, or self-control over what you're going to eventually eat lessens.

Also, by the time you decide to eat, you're STARVING. Quite literally. And your body will hold onto every little thing you put into it because it's thinking, "I don't know when I'm going to get food again."  That's your metabolism talking. By maintaining a steady intake of food throughout the day, your metabolism operates regularly, saying, "store what we need, expel the rest."

Not Eating = Bad. News. Bears.

So my advice? EAT! Breakfast, lunch, maybe even a snack or two, depending on your style. The result? When you get to the party, chances are you'll make better choices. You won't be so hungry that you salivate over every crumb, but you'll be just as hungry as you are every other day. Totally normal. Your brain will be more likely to think through things before making decisions, "Everything looks delicious, but 1 regular-size portion will be fine."

3. Be in control - when possible!

By this I mean, who's cooking? Make sure it's you whenever possible. If you're in charge of the meal, you have control of what the meal is; you have control of how it's made. You can choose to use healthy substitutions.

Same with baking. Choose a higher quality flour like coconut or almond flour. Sub apple sauce or bananas for sugar. A simple Google search can give you countless healthy substitutions for your baking.

Invited to a party in which you were asked to bring a plate? GREAT! At least you know there will be one safe thing there! Try a festive veggie tray, a fruit platter, a whole-grain side dish, or a salad. Trust me, there are plenty of people there who will be thankful for your healthy dish as well!

4. Supplements!

Are you currently making use of meal supplements? If not, I highly recommend it. It's nearly impossible to get all the vitamins you need from regular food these days. (But that's another topic for another time.)

The reason I bring this up is because meal replacements can be the very thing to keep you on track this holiday season! Controlled portion, controlled calories, all the vitamins/minerals/macronutrients you need to sustain you throughout the day. They can be strategically used to your advantage:

- Standard breakfast. It will fuel your body for all the things you need to get done to prep for a big day! And, if you fall off-the- healthy-wagon later in the day, you'll know you have a few calories to spare (less beating yourself up,) and tomorrow? Your healthy breakfast is already waiting for you so you can get right back on-the- healthy-wagon!

- Pre-party meal. Headed to a party and afraid you'll be tempted by all the options? Down a shake before you go. You'll be full when you get there, and things won't look as appetizing. And even if they do, smaller portions will fill you up much faster!

- Burn fat while you sleep. If you're like me, I LOVE dessert. I LOVE eating after dinner. Something about it makes my brain happy. But sugar right before bed is not exactly a good idea... it'll just stick to you! Protein however... great idea! Tastes like a milkshake AND burns body fat while I sleep?! I’m in!

5. Small Plate Rule

I think everyone has heard this at one time or another, but just in case you haven't, I wanted to include it: When you get to whatever gathering or party you're headed to and it's meal-time, grab the smallest plate available. Take a spoonful of the things you "have to have",  and enjoy. The smaller plate will trick your brain into thinking you've taken a lot, when in fact you've taken less than usual.

Eat slow, put your fork down as you chew, and listen to your belly. Are you full?

6. Mindset

Let's remember something very important: it's the holidays! It's meant to celebrate, to enjoy, to be with family, to give, to love, to take a break from work, etc. I could go on... I love this time of year!

In summary… take the focus off food. Take the focus off YOU. Focus on the reason you are celebrating: we celebrate friends and family, we celebrate surviving another year, we celebrate for spiritual reasons... HAVE FUN! This isn't rumspringa people, it's the holidays. You can still enjoy yourself without killing all of your healthy habits. You just have to get creative! Or, at least, adopt the ideas of people who were creative on your behalf!

You're going to be okay, I promise.

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