Start eating right and exercising now -- before the holidays - Blue Springs Examiner

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The holidays are fast approaching, which means parties, shopping, hosting, visiting family and friends and, most likely, busy schedules and stress. It's also the time of year when people tend to gain weight.

Starting an exercise routine and healthy eating habits now, rather than after the holidays, can make sticking to a diet and exercise regimen a habit by the time the Thanksgiving turkey is carved. Here are a few suggestions:

Plan ahead. Between cocktail parties, work functions and family gatherings, there's "3,000 calories waiting to be eaten" at many holiday events, Menzer said. Before a holiday event, call ahead to see what's on the menu. If friends or relatives are offering a meal full of fried foods, offer to bring a healthy dish and fill your plate with that while simply sampling other dishes that aren't on your diet. Or indulge in a healthy meal before you go — a big salad or nuts and fruit — that will keep you full.

Get a support system. Those new to fitness or who find gyms daunting should hire a personal trainer to evaluate their workout form and plan exercise programs. If a trainer is too expensive, fitness magazines, information online and even YouTube videos can get you started. Finding a workout buddy will also help keep you accountable for exercising, especially when life gets busy around the holidays.

Start a schedule. Jennifer Menzer, a personal trainer and health coach who owns Saldare Body Therapy in Boston, said the best way to start an exercise routine is by printing out a calendar, penciling in workouts and hanging it somewhere visible. It's easier to realize you only worked out twice this week or feel good because you made it to the gym four days in a row. Also, make a point of scheduling workouts in the calendar on your phone or in your email. It takes 21 days, she said, to make or break a habit, and starting an exercise plan in the fall will make your workouts routine by the holidays.

"Make it as important as a doctor's office visit or a conference call," Menzer said. "We often put ourselves last."

Just add water. Strasburg said water is one of the best ways to detox and flush anything bad out of the body. She said the health-conscious should divide their body weight in half to calculate the ounces of water needed each day. For instance, a 100-pound person should consume 50 ounces of water daily. Drink an additional 8 ounces for every alcoholic beverage that's consumed, and add extra water on days when you exercise.

Feast on sweet vegetables and dark, leafy greens. Fall is the perfect time to include veggies such as carrots, butternut squash, onions and sweet potatoes in your diet, said Kendra Strasburg, co-founder of Boston's Crave Health holistic nutrition and health center. Adding these foods lowers sugar cravings. As a result, she said, most people won't get the same satisfaction out of sugary foods.

Meanwhile, leafy greens such as spinach, broccoli and kale are oxygen-rich energy-boosters that will perk you up and keep you from getting tired, making you less likely to turn to foods that are full of empty calories.

24 Sep, 2011

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