Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy & Healthy Holiday Eating

I just received an e-mail from the American Heart Association with information on how to avoid gaining weight and staying healthy over the holidays and I wanted to share some of the advice, and add some of my own. In preparing for Miss New York, I knew it was necessary to really pay close attention to everything that I intake in order to get in shape and maintain a healthy weight, in addition to exercise.

I know I look forward to Thanksgiving dinner, and special appetizers served at parties throughout the holiday season all year long, and I'm sure most of you do, too. It's not a matter of self-control, but I believe this desire for delicious food is something that is engrained in us, and if it's just me, (Big Hungry) Shelby knows what I mean. But as I learn to fight these temptations and prepare for cravings for crescent rolls, ham & cheese pastry, homemade mashed potatoes, Christmas cookies, and my favorite, Pumpernickel dill dip...yum. I'll be the last person to tell you to avoid these and other delicacies of similar deliciousness, but I do know it is important to our health and physicality, to know how to enjoy these as a treat, in lesser portions.

So, I have developed a list of guidelines that I challenge you all to follow, based on tips and information from the American Heart Association and the South Beach Diet (eating lifestyle).

1) From the AHA, eat healthy and filling snacks before you leave your house. When you get to the party, don't head straight for the food table, but get a drink, non-alcoholic, and that will help you to feel full, and less inclined to mingle with the snacks rather than the people. But of course, it would be impolite to completely avoid the food, which someone probably slaved over by your host for hours, so remember to sample a little of what looks to be more satisfying.

2) Exercise. If you live in Northern New York, or any part of the Northeast, you know that the snow is a common excuse to hunker down with a blanket and relax on the couch, essentially hibernating. As we learned in elementary school, when bears hibernate that sleep all of winter, they get fat so that they can live without food for the length of winter. Anyway, we don't want that. Here are some exercise ideas to warm you up and burn calories and Christmas cookies:

- I'm a ZUMBA instructor, so I'm biased, but it's an awesome workout! As they say, "lose the workout, join the party!" It's so much fun you forget you are working out. Check with your local gym or in community centers to find classes in your area. Or visit! If you live near Chaumont, check out my winter classes in Three Mile Bay! :-)

- Get a gym membership! A month at the YMCA is usually less than $50, and totally worth it. A wide variety of machines and workout classes to choose from. Tip: Get a gym buddy to keep you motivated and dedicated to your regime.

- If you prefer working out alone, not in public, try workout tapes. They can be very effective if you stick to them. Personally, I do best with motivation from others.

- When you do indulge, because that is OK once in a while, especially if you are working out daily, you should remember some tips:

1) Whole wheat is better than white. Anything starchy, especially baked goods and other treats made with flour, are loaded with carbs. Try to eat whole wheat, and use whole wheat flour, when possible. (South Beach)

2) Sugars - you know the rule. Not too much! Things like sugar free jell-o or treats made with Splenda have less calories, carbs, and sugars. (South Beach)

3) Be a label reader! If you have access to the labels of what you are about to eat, check them out. When looking at ingredients, I always look for words that are hard to read or pronounce. My roommate told me the other day, "If your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize it, don't eat it!" Obviously it is hard to avoid these things all the time, and I like the saying, "everything in moderation."

4) For those of you who are 21 and older, keep in mind that not only are there many empty calories in alcohol (remember to avoid ALL empty calories, in food, too!), but it can also make you hungrier and more likely to make poor eating decisions. (Also from AHA)

- Lastly, if you want to lose a few pounds for the holiday season, I personally recommend the South Beach Diet (not really a DIET). Read the book! It's easy, written by a doctor and approved by other doctors, healthy, and effective! And of course, ZUMBA is a great workout! :-)

I hope this advice is useful and helpful and I strongly encourage you all to think about eating, while still enjoying those special treats!

Before I go, I would like to extend an HUGE thank you to our troops, and our veterans. My grandfather is a veteran of WWII and my cousins and I have been lucky enough to hear lots of war stories from him. He has accomplished so much in addition to his success as a performer. Watch the video below to see him!

Also, I want to wish my little brother Sky, a very HAPPY 16th BIRTHDAY! :-)

Alright, that's all for now!

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