Lately I’ve noticed that the gym in my building is packed. It seems a bit early for this; usually the influx of gym-goers lasts as long as their New Year’s resolutions: from January to March. As I was running on the treadmill this morning I wondered if the extra people were in here doing guilt workouts.
This time of year is a minefield for the healthy diet; baked goods on filing cabinets at work, holiday parties with deep-fried appies & cheese trays, festive cocktails, booze-filled chocolate and multiple turkey dinners. If you’re not careful, you can gain 10 pounds or more over the holidays!
How do you avoid over-doing it this holiday season and the inevitable guilty workouts?
We all know that we should drink in moderation, choose the crudité, shrimp & fruit at holiday parties, and politely say no to baked goods & chocolate at the office. But why don’t we?
Everyone has the power to make healthy choices, but the tricky part is the motivation. What’s going to motivate you this holiday season or any time of the year to start making healthy choices?
How about focusing on your health? Before you accept that extra glass of wine or indulge in multiple sweet treats; think about what overdoing it this holiday season (or anytime) does to your body.
Too much alcohol
Alcohol can be enjoyable during the holidays when consumed in moderation, but more than 1 drink per hour is toxic to your body. Your liver can no longer filter the alcohol, and it goes into your blood & brain. Alcohol depletes vital nutrients; weakening the immune system, it disrupts sleep, causes dark circles under the eyes, dehydrates the skin, and causes brain fog, depression and cravings for fat, refined carbs & sugar.
Deep-fried food is made using hydrogenated vegetable oil, which contains trans-fat. Both hydrogenated & trans-fats are main contributors to heart disease because they raise bad LDL cholesterol & lower good HDL cholesterol levels in the body. Too much bad LDL cholesterol clogs our arteries, which increases blood pressure and puts stress on our hearts (causes it to work harder and enlarge), which can cause heart disease. Too much bad cholesterol can also lead to pre-mature aging & dementia.
Conventional cookies, pastries, and cakes are usually made with hydrogenated fats such as margarine, shortening or vegetable oil. Hydrogenation is a process that changes healthy unsaturated fats into bad fats in order to make them spreadable, solid at room temperature & extend their shelf life. Unfortunately, like most food processing methods, it’s bad for our health; leads to obesity, Type II diabetes and heart disease.
Our bodies are well-equipped to deal with normal amounts of sugar. The pancreas secretes insulin, which instructs the sugar to go into our cells and is put to good use for energy or stored in the liver for later. When we consume too much sugar, our body can’t keep up with the excess, and it’s stored as fat. Too much sugar can also lead to insulin sensitivity, which is a precursor to Type II diabetes, and can cause mood swings & cravings for more sugar.
Ignoring proper portion sizes, going in for seconds and leaving your turkey dinners feeling “stuffed” is not good for digestion (or weight maintenance). Our body only has so many digestive enzymes & stomach acid, which quickly become depleted when we overeat (especially when we overeat cooked foods; raw food is enzyme-rich). The undigested food just sits around in our stomachs & intestines causing toxins to build up, and symptoms of bloating, gas and constipation.
Sorry for being a scrooge, but weight gain & guilty workouts are no fun. I want to motivate you to use your willpower, and make educated healthy choices this holiday season (& everyday!). The next time you reach for that extra cookie or deep-fried spring roll, think about what it will do to your body, and make a healthy choice instead.