Holiday eating can add about five-eight extra pounds to your body, according to fitness experts at the Siskey Family YMCA in Matthews.
“Typically during the holiday season, there is the so-called ‘built-in excuse or reason’ to overeat and train less,” said Robert Patzak, fitness director at the Siskey facility. “Food always seems to always be around, and when your friends and family are together it’s easier to join in and not pay any attention to the extra calories. It can be from traditions or just a reason to take a break from exercising because others are doing it as well.”
Patzak, along with Marcia Pirie, the Siskey Y’s wellness coordinator, are the duo behind Holiday Health Watch, a weigh-in program for diet and exercise for the holidays.
The program, now in its fifth year, challenges Siskey Y members to register and weigh-in before Nov. 19 – although Patzak says registrations and weigh-ins will be held for a few more days this week – and lose or maintain their starting weight through the six-week challenge.
In past years, the Siskey Y has seen about 150 members sign up, but hopes are that more will join – and come back for the weigh ins.
“You weigh in Nov. 19 (or a few days after) and the week after Christmas,” Pirie said, adding that the final weigh-ins are Jan. 1-12.
Pirie offers the following tips for the holiday season:
• Plan ahead. When cooking a meal, use healthier ingredients: Use oils that have less saturated fat, remove skin from chicken or turkey before cooking and bake, broil or grill meats rather than frying them. Stay away from cream sauces and try vegetable-based sauces instead. Choose whole-grain pastas, bread and rice. Plan on a fruit-based dessert or nonfat yogurt instead of ice cream or cake.
• Exercise self-control. Eat a small snack before you arrive so you are not so hungry. Focus on the people at the party, not the food.
• Plan activities that do not involve food. Plan downtime for yourself. Exercise and take time to rest.
• Don’t overdo it. Use extra cookies, candy and food as gifts.
• If you don’t stick to your plan, don’t give up. On the fitness end, Patzak said people who work out regularly tend to slip a bit during the holidays, especially those traveling.
“With no available gym space or lack of routine, one can do simple exercises around the hotel or house such as jumping jacks, burpees (squat thrusts), push-ups (or) sit-ups without having to bear any bad elements of weather,” he said. “Also, purchasing a rather inexpensive resistance band can provide many exercises and is easy to pack and travel with.”
Both coordinators agree the Healthy Holiday Weight challenge is a natural introduction to fitness and healthy food habits for the new year.