As the busy holiday season approaches, it’s important to make fitness and health an important part of your schedule. Fitness expert Jim Karas shares 10 easy and practical ways to be more health-conscious during the holidays.

Don’t miss a meal. “Never skip breakfast—or any meal—just because you have a party or dinner that night and want to ‘save up’ your calories,” Jim says. “Research indicates that those who skip breakfast—approximately one-third of the American population—have a 450 percent greater chance of being overweight or obese.”

Always eat a protein-filled snack before going out to dinner or a party, Jim says. “Eating one of these 100-calorie options before will keep you away from the devastatingly rich, calorie-laden hors d’oeuvres,” Jim says.
  • A cup of yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese
  • Twelve almonds
  • Low-fat, low-sodium deli turkey or chicken
  • Half an apple with half a tablespoon of peanut butter

Say no to liquid calories that can be found in juice, sports and energy drinks and soda. “They are a disaster at any time of the year, but especially during the holidays,” Jim says. “Ditto to punch!”

Always drink 2 ounces of water for every 1 ounce of wine. Wine is good for your heart, but it is dehydrating, which is why Jim says to drink twice as much water as wine. Plus, you won’t drink as much because you’ll fill up on the water!

Hit the weights to lose the weight, Jim says. “Every possible moment you devote to exercise should only be spent performing interval strength-training exercises,” he says.

Listen to soothing music. Soothing music can immediately reduce the stress hormone cortisol in your body, Jim says. “Let’s face it—the holidays are loaded with stress, so pop your earphones in or turn the volume up in your car and relax.” Also, less stress, and therefore less cortisol, directly leads to weight loss, Jim says. “It’s a ‘win-win’ situation,” he says.

Turn down the heat. “When you are a little cold—not freezing, mind you—you burn a few extra calories to warm up,” Jim says. “During this time of year, every little bit helps.”

Spice it up! Spicy foods boost your metabolism, so sprinkle pepper flakes, hot sauce or cayenne pepper on your boneless, skinless chicken and vegetables, Jim says

An apple a day does keep the doctor—and the weight—away, Jim says. “One research study showed that eating an apple before breakfast, lunch and dinner resulted in 14 pounds lost over a 12-week period,” Jim says. “Now that’s easy to do.”

You snooze, you loose, Jim says. “Don’t skimp on sleep to wrap gifts or make seven-layer cookies that no one should be eating,” he says. “When you are sleep deprived, two powerful hormones, leptin and ghrelin, interact and cause you to gain weight.” 
By Peter Walsh
Oprah Radio  |  November 27, 2008
Source: O Magazine

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