What’s in My Gym Bag

Whether you’re just getting into this fitness thing or you’ve been at it for years, I have a couple of tips to make this habit just a bit easier and more fun. Who are we kidding? I have a ton of tips, but I’ll just focus on two today.

The first is to like your workout clothes, and by that I mean, buy cute workout clothes. Don’t wear your hubby’s old t-shirt, no matter how comfortable it is. Don’t wear the shorts you weed your flowerbed in either. Give yourself permission to go shopping and get some clothes you really dig, clothes that are actually designed for exercise. It makes a world of difference! Before you even start your workout, you’ll feel better just because you like what you’re wearing. Workout clothes breathe better which helps you perform your workout better. An old t-shirt gets heavy and cumbersome as you sweat and that is NOT a good feeling when you’re in the middle of a tough class. Today’s workout wear is so fun, fashionable and comfy that I still feel and look somewhat decent running errands after my gym session.

My other tip is to invest in a good gym bag. Have that sucker packed and ready everyday. When I get home from the gym, I unload my bag and restock it for the next day. It certainly does speed up the process of getting out the door each morning when my bag is ready to go.



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So, what should you have in your gym bag? I have perfected the art of packing a gym bag since I live out of mine. My gym bag may actually be a tad over packed since I teach fitness classes and want to be prepared for anything, but I’ve discovered a few essentials that everyone needs in their bag.

FOOD! 

I always have snacks in my bag. It’s a good idea to have a snack 30 minutes to an hour after your workout. I’m usually running errands at that time, so having snacks in my bag keeps me from making a less than healthy choice when I’m out and about. Sometimes, I burn through my breakfast before I’m done at the gym, so having a KIND bar on hand saves me in the middle of my workout. It’s also nice having extra snacks with me to help someone else who may not have fueled properly before class.



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Water Bottle

I bring a big, ole bottle to guzzle, not the little fun-sized, kid-sized bottles. I drink steadily throughout my workout and try not to let myself get thirsty.



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Sweat Towel

I’m a sweater so I really love my little sweat towel. You may not think you need one if you are just starting out, but as your fitness level improves, the harder you can go, and the harder you go, the more you sweat.

Baby Wipes

I have to “fake” my showers after class when my schedule is tight. Baby wipes do the trick until I can get home.



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Dry Shampoo

Again, faking it.



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Jacket

Most gyms have the AC cranked; at least they do in the group fitness rooms. I almost always have a jacket on before I start class. After class, I’m sweaty and get cold if I don’t have a jacket.

Chapstick

When you’re working out at an intense level, you’ll be breathing out of your mouth and your lips can get very dry. I always put on chapstick right after my workout.

Breath Mints

With all that mouth breathing, everyone’s breath needs a little freshening!

Those are my essentials. With cute workout clothes and a well-packed gym bag, you’ll be ready to conquer the world or at least the gym.



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(Photo taken at the Waco Family YMCA, for membership information, click here)

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Way to Workout

We all know that in order to establish lifelong fitness, we need to find a workout or workouts that we like and consistently do them. More and more studies are showing that it isn’t as important what type of workout you do. What’s important is that you DO SOMETHING and do it regularly. Don’t listen to people who say that one workout is better than another. Maybe that certain workout is better for THEM, but if you don’t like it, it’s not for you. Don’t be confused by what you see on social media. You will see all kinds of workouts and varying fitness information, but no matter what you see, the best exercise is the one you will actually do…long term.

With all that being said, I thought I’d share my very favorite way to workout. It should come as no surprise, but group fitness rocks my world. I LOVE it so much and not only because I teach it. Of course, I totally love teaching it, but I love being a participant, too. There is just nothing like it. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy solitary workouts. I either run or do HIIT training alone once or twice a week. Running by myself clears my mind and, as a dance fitness choreographer, I do my best choreographing in my head while I’m running. Go figure. Still and all, group exercise is special and my favorite.

I love walking in the door, seeing familiar faces, and being greeted immediately each class. I get a sense of what Norm on “Cheers” must have felt when he walked in the bar and was greeted with a loud “Norm!” each day. As you get to know the people around you, friendships form. Some of my best friendships have come from a group fitness class. I love how the people in class become a family and look out for each other. I know many people in my classes text each other or send Facebook messages when a fellow class member is absent. We care about each other and that’s not typically something that forms in the cardio room on treadmills.

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I’m much less likely to skip a workout when I know my fellow class members will be there and wonder where I am. It definitely makes it easier to be consistent when I have that built in accountability.

In a group fitness class, you push yourself more than you might otherwise. When we exercise on our own, it’s easier to stop when we probably could go a little harder and a little longer. When your instructor is pushing and challenging you, it’s easier to continue on when you really want to quit.

I feel a sense of camaraderie in class that I don’t get elsewhere. We are in the fight together. We struggle, groan and hurt together. These are my fellow warriors. My people! We laugh together, like today when I went face first into my mat while trying to hold a difficult pose in yoga class. Thanks to my friend, Holly, for lightening the mood with “She’s going down!” as it happened. We bond over our soreness and encourage each other to keep going. It’s comforting to have my buddies with me, working hard, enduring the pain and getting through even the toughest workouts together. It’s a bonding experience and I always leave feeling accomplished, empowered and just a little better than before.



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I also learn from group fitness. If you have a good instructor, he or she is constantly educating you on fitness and health and keeping you updated on the latest research and information. Also, class members share great information with each other. We swap everything from recipes and diet tips to what stores are having great sales on workout clothes. I’m constantly learning from people in my classes and it’s awesome.

Just writing this has me excited about my class tomorrow. I’m ready for a little bit of socializing and whole lot of hard work with my fellow workout warriors. If you’ve never tried a fitness class, I encourage you to give it a shot. It will change more than your backside. It could change your life.



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All photos taken at the Waco Family YMCA. For membership information, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

One Simple Key to Weight Loss

So, you’ve got a nice exercise routine established and you eat a healthy diet, but you’re not quite where you want to be. What to do? The answer may be simpler than you think.

A few years ago, my family and I took a trip to France. One thing I noticed (besides the amazing sights) was how trim and lean the people were. I don’t recall seeing any overweight locals. Interestingly, I didn’t see many gyms or even locals out running or doing typical forms of exercise. And their diet?? Paleo it is NOT. French bread, pastries, cream, butter, wine. Awesome, right? So, how in the world do they stay thin? One reason is because they move a lot. Walking is a huge part of the French lifestyle. Those people walk everywhere. The French are on to something and we can be, too. What if we simply moved more?

An article in the April issue of “Runner’s World” supports this idea. Author Amby Burfoot, reports that when it comes to getting lean, “calorie reduction is not the answer. In fact, there’s scant evidence that gluttony is our problem. Convincing data point to the other side of the calories in/calories out equation- physical activity. We’re not eating too much. We’re moving too little. “ We sit much more than our ancestors did and “as a result, we burn far fewer calories during the work day” than they did. The article talks about “energy flux…a new term for an old hypothesis.” “The hypothesis says: Don’t focus on reducing the number of calories you eat, or calories in. Focus instead on increasing the number of calories you burn, or calories out. In doing so, your body will find an ideal balance point that naturally promotes weight loss and will help you maintain a healthy weight.”

Just move and move some more. Keep those legs active as much as you can. Extreme exercise isn’t the answer. Extreme dieting isn’t the answer. We need to be on our feet and simply moving more than we do. Walk around more. Stand. Forget the elevator and take the stairs. Walk the dog. Park further away from your destination. Do little things throughout your day such as folding laundry or answering email standing up.

Find exercise that makes you happy. Eat a healthy diet that you enjoy. AND MOVE, MOVE, MOVE!



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Change Comes- Ready or Not!

This has been a year of change for me. My job has changed; not my job in fitness but my main job, my job as mother.

Last August, our middle child and only daughter, headed off to college and joined her older brother at Baylor. While we were thrilled for her, it’s been a huge adjustment for her momma. I struggled when our oldest left for college. It was hard to let him go, and then, just as I’ve adjusted well with his absence, the next one leaves. This go around has been especially tough since she is a girl. I grew up in a family of 3 girls. I NEED girl time to function as a happy human. Having a daughter in the house has kept me sane in our boy-heavy home. Do not get me wrong. I LOVE having sons. Oh my goodness! They are awesome, but just when I don’t think I can handle yet another conversation about sports or cars, my daughter will walk in and the balance in my universe is restored.


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Her leaving has changed a lot of things for us. For the first time in 19 years, we only have one child at home. This is weird. It’s weird cooking for three. The reduction in laundry is weird. Oh, and I’m back to talking about sports and cars. All. The. Time. I guarantee you I know more about the NBA than most 47 yr.-old women.

It’s been a little lonely, too. My daughter has been the only one of my children who wants to go with me when I run errands. My weekend errands were actually fun because we would often get Starbucks and a pedicure while in the middle of my mundane errands. She’s the only one who will watch “The Bachelor” with me (don’t judge us), and she’s the only member of the family who acts as my personal stylist. My style confidence has taken quite a hit now that my consultant is out of the house.

Another adjustment has been the loss of varsity sports. We have had a child in varsity sports since 2007 when our oldest son was a freshman in high school. We’ve gotten to watch our children compete at State in cross country (two times), track (two times) and basketball. What a ride! Let me just tell you, it’s a big change going from varsity sports back to middle school sports. A big change. Of course, we realize in a few short years, our youngest will be playing varsity sports, but for now, it’s weird.

Life is different. My role of mom is changing. When the main job you’ve had for 22 years begins to change, life feels a little unstable. You begin to ask questions and wonder what your future will look like.

What does any of this have to do with fitness? Not a lot… but a little. Like other times of change in my life, fitness has been my companion and friend through the changes and adjustments. Exercise has helped to keep me upbeat, emotionally level and sane. Well, Jesus and exercise. Well, ok, Jesus, exercise, my husband, family and great girlfriends. BUT exercise has been crucial. It always clears my head and makes me feel better.

Our lives change. Our roles change. Our bodies change. Change WILL happen. It’s hard to prepare yourself for it. When it hits and you’re feeling a little blue, call a friend, pray and head out for a run or go to a fitness class. You’ll be glad you did and you’ll feel better able to face these changes, and for me, better able to handle yet another conversation about the NBA.



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My Workout Routine and Why

I often get asked about my workout routine, and since I shared about my diet last time, I thought I’d share what my typical fitness week looks like. My workout regimen has changed over the years. My focus is on what my body needs and what I enjoy. I’m done with workouts that don’t make me happy. I love my routine and look forward to my workouts instead of dreading them.

When it comes to our workout routines, people can have strong opinions about what we “should” do. Regardless of what we hear, we each have to find an exercise routine we enjoy, that gives desired results and is sustainable. Remember, just because Susie Q. does a certain workout, doesn’t mean it’s right for you. I know many people who run marathons and enjoy that type of training. That’s great for them! Super long running doesn’t do it for me. My idea of a perfect run is anywhere from 4-6 miles. I’m not a happy camper beyond that, and my body pays a price that I’m no longer willing to pay. I also know people who are into lifting heavy weights. If that’s your thing, go for it! Lifting heavy hurts my joints and the weight room can be a lonely place for me. Instead, a group fitness strength class is my happy place. I’ve found the sweet spot for working out for ME and I urge you to find what it is for YOU.

Being a fitness instructor, one of the first things we learn is that when we teach, we should not be focused on getting our own workout. Instead, we should teach. When I lead a class, my first priority is to give my students a top-notch workout while keeping them safe and providing some fun, too. When I teach, I pour my whole heart into my class, and, inevitably when I’m finished, I’m just as tired as my students. I do the workout right along with them, so I can understand what they are feeling and how hard I should push them. I don’t enjoy going to classes where the instructor is walking around and yelling at me to go harder. As an instructor, I am going through the battle with them, and my students seem to appreciate that. Because of the way I teach, I count my own classes as my workout. Trust me, they are tough workouts and my body doesn’t need any more on those days.



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My routine is made up of cardio, strength training and flexibility training. Cardio keeps my heart in shape, keeps me lean and just makes me joyful. Strength training keeps muscle on my body (we begin to lose muscle during our thirties), which keeps my metabolism up. Strength or resistance training keeps me strong and toned and is also good for my bones. Flexibility training keeps my muscles feeling great, helps prevent injury and relieves stress.



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My routine:

Monday– Yoga, Zumba®

Tuesday– Body Shaping Class (resistance training), Zumba®

Wednesday– Yoga

Thursday– Body Shaping Class, Zumba®

Friday– Rest

Saturday– Zumba®

Sunday– Rest or running (depending on how my body feels)

I like to have one full rest day and one active rest day (example: Wednesday yoga) per week. Some weeks I may take two full rest days and one active rest day if my body needs it.

Since my job is fitness, I get more exercise than the average person, but it works for me. Find what works for you and don’t worry about what others are doing or telling you to do. Have a fitness routine that you love and look forward to. If you do, working out won’t feel like “work” at all!

What I Eat in a Typical Day

 

I get asked about diet as much as I get asked about exercise. Diet is so important. Exercise, no matter how hard you work, is not enough. I could go on and on about this (and I often do in my classes). Exercise is the easy part! Watching what you put in your mouth throughout the day is much more difficult.

People frequently ask me what I eat, so I thought I would share. Let me preface this by saying, this is what works for ME. You may be different. I don’t count anything…not calories, grams, macros. Nada. Numbers burden me. Not because I’m lazy, but numbers are bondage to me. It’s the same reason I don’t weigh myself. As someone who suffered from disordered eating and body image issues in college, I will not go back to that way of life. Freedom is my new boo.

My diet mainly consists of veggies, fruits, lean dairy, whole grains, nuts, poultry, lean beef, fish and eggs. I tell people that I aim for 90% healthy (foods I just mentioned) and 10% whatever I want (chocolate, wine, French bread…I’m of French decent, so those three things are just natural, right?).

A typical day for me would be something like this…

Breakfast is often Banana Pancakes (recipe is in the Recipe section of this site). If I’m teaching classes that morning, I’ll throw a scoop of protein powder in the recipe. Yummy and filling. Oh, and coffee is a MUST for me in the morning. It’s what I look forward to the most!



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Mid-morning (usually after my workout) I’ll typically eat a Quest bar because I’m usually on the run and need something quick and easy.



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Lunch is often a big green salad with chicken and nuts or another favorite is Chicken Avocado Mash. I’ll mash an avocado and mix in chicken, purple onion, a squeeze of lime and salt and pepper. I like to eat that with some Beanitos bean chips. I might have fruit for dessert or if I need a chocolate fix, a Skinny Cow Ice Cream treat or a few squares of dark chocolate. I usually eat my “treat” at lunch not dinner time.



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Mid-afternoon snack is often plain Greek yogurt with fresh berries mixed in for extra yum. If I need a more substantial snack, I’ll throw some almonds into this.



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Dinner– I do not LOAD UP at dinner. It’s usually smaller than my lunch, but enough to keep me full until bed. I don’t like to eat after dinner. Some people do better having another snack after dinner, but I’m not into that. Dinner for me is usually a protein, a starch and lots of greens (think chicken or fish, brown rice and a green salad). In the photo below, I had already eaten some of the salad and chicken and rice, so my portion was a little bigger.



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I try to continually drink water throughout my day. I don’t drink diet sodas or iced tea. It’s coffee in the morning and water the rest of the day. I might drink some almond milk at breakfast on occasion. I take calcium supplements since I don’t drink a lot of milk (this sentence is for my dad who will read this and fuss that I’m not drinking much milk and need more calcium).

Also, we don’t go out to eat much. My hubby and I will have a couple date nights each month and our family may go out after church on Sunday here and there, but we prefer to eat at home. I do go on lunch dates with girlfriends several times a month, but I try to eat something similar to what I would make at home. Eating out can be a healthy diet killer, so be careful. It also saves our family a lot of money to cook each night and that makes the hubs happy!

So, that’s a typical day. I never go hungry. If I’m hungry, I eat. It’s pretty simple. The way I eat keeps me happy and satisfied. I enjoy my food and don’t feel deprived. I splurge here and there, and don’t think twice about it. If your diet is healthy and portion controlled most of the time, the occasional splurge won’t hurt.

Bon Appetit!

 

 

 

3 Things to Help You Be a New Year’s Resolution Winner

Well, it’s that time again, New Year’s Resolution time. It’s a fun, exciting time for those of us in the fitness industry. I LOVE the buzz at the gym and seeing all the new faces. The treadmills are full. The weight room is packed. The fitness classes are bursting at the seams. People are so determined and committed. AND the great thing is that this commitment level lasts year round…in my dreams. The truth is that within about three weeks, the gym is back to normal and the New Year’s Resolutioners have fallen off the fitness wagon…except for a few. A few will make it. A few will catch the fitness bug and stick with it. A few will lose weight, get in shape and get healthy. Will you be one of the few?

Honestly, I don’t think the answer to health and fitness success lies in a new workout program or diet plan. Of course, I’m not knocking those things. Everyone needs to find what he or she enjoys and will stick with, BUT most people know they need to eat less and move more. Most people know that cookies, cake, chips and fried foods aren’t good for them and that fruits, veggies, lean protein, nuts and whole grains are. Most know they need to get off the couch and exercise. The answer lies in our mindset.

Will you be a New Year’s Resolution Winner or Loser? After years of seeing the same pattern, I’ve noticed three mindsets that wreck health and fitness New Year’s Resolutions.

1. The Event Mindset

Don’t let your goal be to get in shape for one certain event such as a class reunion, a vacation or a half marathon. Often, once the big event has past, people go back to their old habits. Remember, we are training for an event called LIFE. It’s a day in/day out, month in/month out, year in/year out event.

2. The All or Nothing Mindset

Getting in shape isn’t an all or nothing endeavor. If you miss a workout or eat a fattening meal, put it behind you and keep going. Get back on track with the very next meal or a workout the very next day. Do NOT throw in the towel if you have a bad day or week. On your fitness journey, you will have many ups and downs, but the key is to soldier on and never give up.

3. The Unrealistic Mindset

Be realistic with your goals. Forget your high school weight, your wedding weight or your whatever weight. Set goals that are reachable for you NOW in your current phase of life. Our bodies and our lives change as we age, and we drive ourselves crazy fixating on a number from years ago. Don’t do it! Where are you now? What’s achievable now?

Do you have any of these mindsets? If so, before 2015 begins, change it. Be someone who adopts healthy habits for life not for a singular event. When you hit a bump in the road, pick yourself up and get right back at it. Finally, forget about your past self. Focus on the now. Move towards becoming a healthier, better you NOW. You can do it. You can be a Resolution Winner so get going! See you at the gym!



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Are You a Good Fitness “Patient”?

Several years ago, my father, a retired orthopedic surgeon, told me about a family friend on whom he operated several times during his career. He spoke of how much he enjoyed having this man as a patient because he always knew the surgery and recovery would go well. This man’s positive attitude and determination to get better aided in easy, smooth recoveries. My dad mentioned how patients with the opposite attitude would usually have the opposite result. I find this to be true in fitness as my fitness “patients” are much like my dad’s orthopedic patients.

People who are determined to be fit will find a way to be fit. I see it all the time. This doesn’t mean that these “determined fitness patients” have fewer issues or emergencies that arise. They have just as much “stuff” in their lives as the next guy. They have sick kids, sick parents, sick pets, school parties, car problems, money problems, household problems, busy jobs, busy children, busy spouses, vacations, injuries, illnesses and on and on…. The difference is when life knocks them down, they are determined to get back up and at ‘em.

In all the craziness, they find a way to stay fit and healthy. Their workout regimen may have to change in the midst of crisis. They may have to sacrifice a little sleep and convenience. They may have to delegate some things to allow time for themselves. They may get completely knocked off their fitness groove for a bit, but they find a way to get back because they know that by taking care of themselves, they are better equipped to take care of life.

What kind of fitness “patient” are you? When problems arise, do you fight for your health and fitness? Remember, when life gives you a sucker punch to the face, a positive, determined attitude will help with the healing. Get up, dust yourself off and get back out there.

 



Some of my outstanding fitness "patients"



Some of my outstanding fitness “patients”

(Photo taken at the Waco Family YMCA, For membership information, click here)

 

Dare NOT to Compare

Theodore Roosevelt was right when he said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Nothing kills my joy faster. Comparing ourselves to others has always been a battle, but I believe it’s harder now more than ever. Social media gives us windows into other people’s worlds and they almost always look rosier than our own. You log on and start to feel like everyone takes better vacations, has smarter, more athletic kids, a more thoughtful spouse and a prettier house. Am I right?



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Even worse is the anxiety we feel when it comes to comparing our bodies and our fitness levels. You’re feeling pretty darn good about getting off the couch and running 3 miles today only to see that Susie Q. just completed her 5th marathon of the year. Oh and she broke her own best record and placed first in her age group. It’s enough to send you right back to the couch with a big bag of Oreos. Double Stuff Oreos. Ever felt like that?

I’m not trying to blast those who tout their fitness accomplishments on social media. I understand the excitement of reaching a goal, but I do believe it can lead to comparisons and that never ends pretty.

Of course, social media isn’t the only place that tempts us to compare our bodies and fitness levels. Walk into any gym and the urge to look around and see how we size up beckons. I have constantly heard, “I want to try your class so bad, but everyone looks so fit. I’m intimidated.” It’s an easy trap to fall into, but we’re only hurting ourselves.

I don’t know about you, but for me, life is too short and precious to waste it feeling anxious and unhappy from measuring my shortcomings with other people’s bright, shiny packaging. Something that has helped me when the urge to compare strikes is to remind myself that every person has problems, issues and difficulties. Things may look perfect on the outside, but we all have struggles and I’m good with mine. No desire to trade.

Remember your goals. When you are comparing your body to what you see on social media, stop yourself and remember your goals. Often, those bodies we admire on social media fitness pages are fitness/body building competitors who get paid to look that way. Do you have the time and energy to devote hours and hours to look like that? I don’t. My goal is not to be a fitness competitor but a fit, healthy ME.

Finally, if comparing yourself is keeping you from trying something (such as the group exercise class I mentioned earlier), know that the person losing out in this battle is YOU. Most people aren’t going to judge you or obsess over every little move you make in the class. Gym goers are there to improve themselves. They aren’t worried that you aren’t super fit or that your push-up form isn’t that great. And chances are, the people in that class started out just like you- intimidated, unsure and not in the best shape. Don’t let the comparison monster win. Push him aside and go for it. Your outlook and your life in general will be better for it.

 

How I Avoid Holiday Weight Gain and You Can, Too

Like many, I LOVE the holidays! It’s such a fun, joyous time of year and there are so many wonderful things to celebrate and enjoy. Over the years, I’ve learned a thing or two about fully enjoying the holidays without fully expanding my waistline. It really IS possible.



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1. Moderation is key. Moderation is my favorite word. It is how I live. It is how I eat and it treats me well. It is FREEDOM (my other favorite word). You don’t have to count anything. You don’t have to obsess over numbers. You can enjoy things that many would deem “bad” and not give it a second thought. It is a skill though and it takes practice and honing. If you are just starting out on the moderation bandwagon, you do have to educate yourself, but that is a blog post for a different day. Since most days of the year I eat healthy and exercise, the holidays don’t freak me out. I can eat pie at Thanksgiving, fudge at Christmas, etc. because I know that after those few days of loosening the reigns on my diet, I’m going right back to my normal routine of healthy eating and exercise. No cause for panic. The keys are to not go on an all-out binge (again, this is moderation) and to get right back on track (not three or four weeks later. Hello, 8 new lbs. for the New Year!).

2. Keep Exercising. It may be next to impossible to keep your usual workout regimen through the holidays, but DO SOMETHING. You may have to change things up a little if you can’t go to your usual classes or do your regular routine, but that’s okay. If you can’t get to the gym, walk or run in your neighborhood, weather permitting. If all you have is a small amount of time, do a series of push ups, squats, triceps dips, cardio intervals like jumping jacks, burpees, mountain climbers, etc. Whatever you can get in, big or small, just do it and stay active! You will be so glad you did come January.

3. Decide ahead of time what days you’ll indulge. Instead of just saying, “It’s the holidays, so I’m gonna EAT,” pick your poison. For me, I designate a few days at Thanksgiving and a few at Christmas as the days I ease up, enjoy and eat things I normally wouldn’t. It’s much easier to get back on track if you plan ahead and decide when you’ll indulge a little more.

4. Drink plenty of water. Yes, this is a basic tip you probably hear all the time, but it does help. And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

5. Don’t starve yourself before a big event or party. I’m never a fan of starving myself all day so I can eat up at a party. Before a party or event where I know there will be lots of goodies, I eat like normal. I have a snack before I go so I don’t arrive ravenous and ready to eat the upholstery off the furniture. This way, I’m much more likely to enjoy things in moderation instead of plowing through the dessert table like the Tasmanian Devil.

The holidays are truly the most wonderful time of the year. Celebrate, enjoy and stay focused on the things that really matter. With a little thought and planning, you can breeze into the New Year without regret.

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