It’s that time of the year again.
The holiday season of giving and receiving is here, along with frequent family gatherings and festive parties, traveling and shopping, and all of the yummy sugar cookies, fruit pies, and decorated cakes that come with the annual tradition.
And whether you intend for it or not, most diet and exercise programs will certainly end up on the back burner. Even the most disciplined may find themselves in a spiraling web of guilt and overindulgence.
It’s no surprise that the holidays can disrupt any well-intentioned health and fitness routine. But, does it really have to? Is it possible to celebrate and enjoy the holiday season without increasing one’s waistline or blood pressure?
According to local professionals in the field of sports medicine and nutrition, meditative and fitness yoga, and exercise physiology, the simple answer is yes.
This week I caught up to Dr. Michael Traub, Brooke Myers and Rick Rubio for some much needed advice that will help to keep us all on track. Here, they share some of their secrets and tips to staying motivated and fit during the holiday season.
Dr. Michael Traub
Traub (64 years old) is a Naturopathic Doctor and Medical Director of Lokahi Health Center in Kailua-Kona and has been practicing for 36 years. Dr. Traub is also a runner and triathlete.
Q: What would you advise to those who feel they lack the willpower to choose healthier food options and maintain a reasonable exercise program during the holidays?
A: Often when we are under increased stress, we let it be an excuse to stop making our healthier choices. The thing is, when we are stressed, we need to take better care of ourselves so that we are better able to handle the stress. This is why exercising ,ore, not less, over the holidays can be so beneficial.
Having willpower is based on being aware of the future consequences of our choices, while impulsivity is based on immediate reward — for example, the delicious sweet taste, the relaxing effect of alcohol. Succumbing to the desire for sweets or alcohol usually yields relief from tension. However, exerting restraint usually leads to not feeling remorse or guilt from an unhealthy behavior, but a sense of taking care of oneself in a healthier way.
1. Hydrate — every time you have an adult beverage, have a tall glass of water along with it. That will help you stay hydrated as well as reduce the amount of alcohol you consume.
2. Black Elderberry syrup — 1 tsp daily or twice daily, is effective for flu prevention, and tastes great, like blueberry syrup. It is usually sweetened with glycerin, not sugar. Buy higher quality elderberry syrup, such as the one made by Gaia Herbs.
3. Savor the gifts of sweet delights you receive for Christmas over several months rather than eating them all now. Put some away in a cupboard, freeze whatever is freezable, and ration the sweets to 1 or 2 bites, every other day or 3, rather than eating sweets daily.
Myers (36 years old) is a certified Yoga Instructor for 11 years. She teaches a variety of yoga styles including Gentle Yoga at The Club in Kona. Myers is also a runner and triathlete.
Q: Lack of time and increased stress levels from a hectic holiday season are reasons many claim why their health priorities become last on the list. How can one utilize yoga and meditation to help with that?
A: An easy five minutes a day can help calm the chattering mind. So whether those five minutes be a mental practice, spiritual practice, or a physical practice, yoga will benefit the Yogi.
My go to when I’m pressed for time is a breathing exercise known as alternate nostril breathing. This particular breathing exercise sets the tone early in the mornings, noon or evenings. Its benefits include reduced anxiety, calming an overactive mind, and relaxing of the entire body.
1. Buddy up with a friend – go walking, running, to the gym, etc. together – hold each other accountable.
2. Journal your goals – writing them down helps to know what you want from your fitness journey.
3. Be realistic with your goals, do not compare yours to others. Fitness is not a one size fits all deal. It varies! Be sure your goals are attainable for you.
Rubio (64 years old) is a certified personal trainer (ACSM) and a fitness/triathlon coach working in Kona for 10 years. Rubio is also an avid triathlete.
Q: People often have the “all or nothing mindset” when it comes to their health during the holidays. What advice would you give to change that?
A: Focus on today. If you develop the mental mindset to look after your physical health today through a nutritious diet, daily fitness and a balanced routine then all of your tomorrow’s will be much easier with less anxiety about the future and the holiday season. Each day is a new day.
1. Exercise Daily — it’s better to have 15 minutes of exercise to keep your body active so your mind is more prepared during the holidays. Go for a 15-minute run or swim instead of cramming in your ‘all or nothing workout’.
2. Enjoy eating slowly — the focus of your holidays should be to make/spend time with your loved ones and enjoying an active lifestyle on this beautiful island. Savor the flavors, eat nutritiously and stop eating when you are full.
3. Limit desserts — sweet treats should only be 5-percent of your meal taken after the nutritious main course and only in small quantities. It’s better to have a small bite of a few desserts than devour one large dessert.
4. Drink in moderation — treat alcohol like a dessert. Consume 8-oz glass water before each meal. Drink plenty of fluids between meals.
For more information on sports medicine and nutrition, meditative and fitness yoga, and exercise physiology, Dr. Traub may be reached at Lokahi Health Center at 329-2114; Brooke Myers at email@example.com; and Rick Rubio at konapersonaltrainer.com.