KEEP Healthy

Dr. SpryAsk the Doctor with Dr. Leslie Spry, MD, FACP

1. The holidays are such a busy time of year. Do you have any suggestions to incorporate physical activity into my jam-packed schedule? How can I prevent myself from falling off the fitness bandwagon?

It's important to establish an exercise regimen and to stick with it, even during the holidays. Exercise keeps you healthy and can help to limit the weight gain that can accompany the holiday season. If you are going to be participating in holiday parties or social events with food, remember to "earn" this by increasing your physical activity for the day. If you can discipline yourself, you may want to visit the gym. Physical activity can come in many forms, especially when you're really busy, so don't discount activities outside the walls of the fitness center.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • When doing your holiday gift shopping or heading to the grocery store, park further from the entrance so that you'll incorporate additional walking. This is usually quite easy to do when the malls are filled to the brim with other holiday shoppers.
  • Instead of taking the elevator or escalator, take the stairs.
  • Try to walk with a co-worker during your lunch hour.

If you incorporate physical activity into your everyday routine, it won't feel like such a chore. An often overlooked benefit of exercise is that it helps to reduce stress - which can accompany holiday joy. Let out steam and avoid packing on the pounds by staying active through the season.

2. I have a weakness for the buffet table! What do you recommend so that I can enjoy all of the parties and social gatherings without gaining weight this holiday season?

One weight gain trap is that people often don't realize just how much they are eating when they are busy socializing. It's easy to get distracted by the conversation and to lose track of how much food you're eating when catching up with old friends and family members, so here are some tips to watch your weight during the holidays:

  • Make a plate instead of eating in a more piecemeal fashion. This will help serve as a visual representation for how much you're consuming.
  • Don't forget about the calories in drinks - alcoholic and non-alcoholic alike. While these liquid calories are less likely to make you feel full, they still count.
  • It's easy to let your inner sweet tooth take control this time of year. Try to split desserts with a friend or family member instead of eating a whole portion yourself.
  • It's okay to speak up and say "no thanks" when offered seconds so don't allow yourself to be pressured into eating more than you would like.
  • Stay active throughout the holiday season and step on the scale and measure your blood pressure daily. These will help you to keep your calorie and salt intake in perspective.
  • Learn to recognize high salt snacks and avoid them.
  • Drink plenty of water. In fact, drinking water may be healthier and better for you than pop or soda served at holiday parties.
  • If you have kidney disease, try to visit with your kidney dietitian before the holidays. A quick phone call or a consult with the dietitian can go a long way in planning ahead for the challenges that sometimes accompany holiday eating.

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