By now, most of us have heard a lot about the destruction overindulging can do to our bodies, both visibly and silently. So, why do we keep allowing ourselves to do it? Does the magnitude of fun make it worth it? On that note, does it have to be all or nothing? The answer is NO. I think it’s more fun to feel light and comfortable, instead of lethargic, achy and bloated.
Remember these few suggestions during Christmas and New Years that, I think, will help you enjoy the holidays much more:
Portion size is so important! Your body can only process only so much at a time. If it can’t process the amount of calories you consume, it will have no choice but to store them. Sugars process fast, while fats and protein process slowly. You will absorb and burn sugars almost immediately, which will raise your blood sugar, and leave your fat cells vulnerable to suck up the excess calories—predominantly from fats. (Note: Fats are the highest calories at 9 cal/gm vs 4 cal/gm for sugars and proteins). Therefore, if you eat sugary, fatty foods, you’re most likely going to max out how much you can burn at that one meal–and the rest will be stored! If this cycle happens over and over again for several meals, you will gain weight like lightning. Plus, your liver and other organs have to work harder also. It’s really hard on your body. How much muscle you have, your energy level, your choice and quantity of foods, are the pieces of the puzzle we have control over. Genetics plays a part, but we don’t have control over that.
There are ways to boost your ability to become a more efficient calorie burning machine. If processing your food intake is the issue, but you still want to partake in all the goodies, you still can. Just keep your portions smaller, spread them out throughout the day. Give your body enough time to “catch up” with the amounts you put in. The higher the calories, the smaller the portion should be. Fats should be very small portions/amounts, but simple sugars should be monitored the most because of the ability to spike blood sugar and insulin which paralyzes the barrier of the fat cells leaving them unprotected. Plus, there’s other detrimental issues for your brain, heart, immune system and energy system.
Exercise requires your body to use energy to move and perform. Anything you can do to get yourself moving will help use those extra calories your body can’t burn on its own. During the holidays, while party hopping, commit to walking either before or after. Walking after a meal is incredibly beneficial to keeping blood sugar balanced and utilizing some calories before they get stored. If you choose to exercise before you eat, a workout that’s intense, like interval training, will be most beneficial because research shows we continue to burn calories for many hours after we stop exercising, conducive to the level of intensity.
Keep your muscle tone. Use it or lose it! Having and keeping muscle will raise your resting metabolism which will burn more calories at rest. Even daily activities such as shopping, cooking, playing with the kids are beneficial anytime—just move. The more muscle you have the more calories you burn.
Go ahead and enjoy everything that is presented to you this holiday season. Be smart; don’t overthink it; focus on your family, friends and all that Christmas is about. It’s a beautiful time of year and we are all blessed to live in one of the most beautiful areas in the world.
Lisa Turpin is a degreed and certified health and fitness lifestyle coach who has devoted her life to motivating and strengthening the bodies and minds of others. With more than 30 years’ experience as a group exercise leader and an independent personal trainer (20 years in the Destin area), she is diverse and extensively trained in classical and modern Pilates, lifestyle management, personal training, group exercise and post-rehabilitation.