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CindySays: Don't skip favorite foods or physical activity over the holidays

By Cindy Boggs

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In preparation for this year's Thanksgiving dinner, my mind wandered off to all the upcoming holiday celebrations. While visions of sugar plums danced in my head, they quickly took a back seat to the visions of extra work the festivities require for them to be festive. Cleaning, decorating, shopping, wrapping, meal planning, baking, addressing, mailing, entertaining are duties added to our already hectic and overextended lives. Super multitasking becomes an absolute necessity as we attempt to finish out the year in style.

No time for me

The first thing we do is clear our calendars as much as possible. If it's not a means to the end, it falls off the schedule. Unfortunately, the trip to the gym, the morning run and the walk in the park are tagged as nonessential time stealers and are replaced with more "important" tasks, such as searching the Internet for the perfect pumpkin pie recipe. Of course, we don't actually come right out and admit we're abandoning our regular physical activity. Instead we justify the swap with a firm commitment like, "I'll definitely work out if I find the time." And we all know, it this whirlwind of a month, we never find time.

Negotiate and justify

All this shopping is physical activity and I'm bound to be burning calories.

True: Going store to store and doing some old-school shopping will burn calories, especially when you lug your purchases back to the car. Caveat: Internet shopping burns zero calories. (Add a well-deserved slice of leftover pumpkin pie to the at-home experience and you're in the hole in terms of health.)

All this baking is exhausting, and I am getting a great workout kneading this bread.

True: Lifting bags of sugar and flour and, of course, the butter. Caveat: Licking the sweet leftovers from all the bowls, spoons and measuring cups during the course of the day can add a heaping tablespoon of fat to your frame even before the bread comes out of the oven.

All this wrapping is so time-consuming, I just can't fit in my spin class.

True: Anyone who's procrastinated and power-wrapped at the last minute knows the backbreaking effort this can be. Caveat: Most people are using beautiful decorative bags to wrap their gifts in so if this is you, this excuse is null and void.

And then there's the food. Remember when food was prepared from scratch? I do. Once upon a time, there was no such thing as pre-baked hams, turkeys, homemade breads and pies from the deli, apple cider by the gallon, gravy mixes, mashed potatoes in a box, pre-made appetizers, frozen premixed cocktails, and there certainly weren't completely prepared dinners available at the grocery store.

In some cases you never have to enter the kitchen except to unpack the hot family-style dinners. Even if this is not your style, you'll have to admit that food preparation has gotten less toilsome as grocers have removed many prep steps from our plate. Granted, if you are still cooking like you did 20 years ago, then you deserve a break, but if you're taking advantage of many of the timesavers available in the markets today, you'll most likely have time for that morning walk or yoga class.

No need to feel deprived

One month doesn't have to make or break you. We all love the family food favorites handed down from year to year. Should we just strengthen our willpower and forgo the food and festivities? I say no. Don't skip the holidays with all its trimmings -- and don't skip your regular activities with all its benefits.

There's always next year

Do we need to stuff ourselves by tasting every dish and drinking every drink throughout the month? Of course not, but many of us throw in the towel making an internal promise to get back on the health wagon at the first of the year. But to what extent do we want to sabotage our fitness momentum?

It's estimated that on the most food-centered times of the year, we consume anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 calories, which is double and triple the normal amount. Holiday overeating paired with little or no exercise only digs a deeper hole to climb out of when Jan. 1 rolls around. While everyone deserves to enjoy all the trimmings of the holidays, the wise will keep both sensible portions and physical activity on their plate through the end of the year.

Cindy Boggs, fitness presenter, author and Activate America director, has been an ACE-certified instructor/trainer since 1989. Send your questions about fitness, training or health to her at YMCA of Kanawha Valley, 100 YMCA Drive, Charleston, WV 25311, or email cindysays@aol.com. Look for Cindy's award-winning fitness advice book, "CindySays ... You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World," at www.cindysays.com, or contact the YMCA at 304-340-3527.


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