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Health & Fitness: Using Exercise to Relieve Holiday Stress – Part 2

KIM

By Kim Duke, NETA & AFAA Certified Trainer

Starting an exercise program is just the first step. Here are some tips for sticking with a new routine or reinvigorating a tired workout.

Set SMART goals. Write down specific, measureable, attainable, relevant and time-limited goals. If your primary goal is to reduce stress in your life and recharge your batteries, your specific goals might include committing to walking during your lunch hour three times a week or, if needed, finding a baby sitter to watch your children so that you can slip away to attend a group fitness class.

Find a friend. Knowing that someone is waiting for you to show up at the gym or the park can be a powerful incentive. Working out with a friend, co-worker or family member often brings a new level of motivation and commitment to your workouts.

Change up your routine. If you’ve always been a competitive runner, take a look at other less competitive options that may help with stress reduction, such as Pilates or yoga classes. As an added bonus, these kinder, gentler workouts may enhance your running while also decreasing your stress.

Exercise in increments. Even brief bouts of activity offer benefits. For instance, if you can’t fit in one 30-minute walk, try three 10-minute walks instead. What’s most important is making regular physical activity part of your lifestyle.

Whatever you do, don’t think of exercise as just one more thing on your to-do list. Find an activity you enjoy — whether it’s an active tennis match or a meditative meander down to a local park and back — and make it part of your regular routine. Any form of physical activity can help you unwind and become an important part of your approach to easing stress.

Tips on Eating Healthily During the Holidays

Being health conscious doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t enjoy the holiday season and have a little bit of what you fancy. It simply means that you should continue to be vigilant and be prepared for the festivities.

There are many ways in which you can help to strike a balance between maintaining a healthy diet and joining in with the fun and festivities.

Eat regularly. If you are going to a big party or dinner, don’t starve yourself all day in anticipation. You’re in danger of arriving at your destination feeling ravenous and eating everything in sight. Instead, have healthy snacks throughout the day. By doing this, you’ll be less likely to over-indulge while you are out.

Prepare for outings. If you have some big nights out and meals planned over the holiday season, try and compensate by having some healthy eating days leading up to the event. Many of us are only too eager to think that we may as well forget about healthy eating over the holidays. However, it should not be a case of forgetting about your diet, but simply managing it a little more carefully over the holidays.

Moderate alcohol intake. Don’t forget that alcohol is fattening, too. That innocent-looking glass of sparkly wine or that small bottle of beer may look as though it will do no harm. However, alcohol contains calories and lots of them. Try and control the amount of alcohol you consume over the holiday period and, in the same way as food, try not to overindulge regularly.

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