How to Eat Well and Exercise During the Holidays

For some of us, the holidays can be stressful. There can be holiday parties, family obligations, and eating temptations. How many of you just take a break from your fitness program?

An increase in body weight each holiday season can add up over time until it becomes a potential health problem.
Even though the average weight gain may be fairly small, weight is usually not lost once the holidays are over and can add up to a significant increase over time. In general, as we age, we tend to gain one to two pounds a year as our metabolism slows, and particularly, if we lose muscle.

The meals people eat during the holidays can add up to thousands of extra calories. You could actually put on a pound every day if you were to keep eating at this rate. Once you become used to the higher caloric intake, it may become the new normal.

This would not be such a problem if we only indulged on the actual day of the holidays. Most of us, however overeat during the entire 5-week holiday season. If you do not exercise, you will just gain weight and be stressed.

Wouldn’t it be nice to start the New Year without the extra weight? Staying active now can also help you to avoid the common January pitfall of doing too much exercise after being sedentary during December which may lead to injuries. Jump-start your New Year by starting to live a healthy lifestyle today.

What causes our eating habits to deteriorate during the Holidays?
• Stress. As if there was not enough stress in everyday life, holiday obligations and expectations add to the strain. There’s too much to do and accomplish in a short period, and that extra work can be overwhelming. It adds to stress, and the stress can lead to overeating

• Exhaustion. The demands of fall/winter festivities can leave people feeling sluggish and sleep-deprived. When people are tired, they are more likely to overeat.

• Emotional eating. Some people use food to soothe sadness, anxiety, dissatisfaction, or loss. Some people are sensitive to shorter days and have a seasonal affective disorder. They may become depressed and tend to overeat in response.

• Some simply use any celebration as an excuse to overindulge. Others develop a “What the hell?” attitude and forgo their usual eating habits during this time.
• Holiday marketing of food and consumerism contributes to the excess as well, and even people who have been trying to eat healthy throughout the year may give in. Comfort and nostalgia play roles, as well.

With all these obstacles to overcome, how can one avoid putting on those holiday pounds?

Let’s Focus on what you can do.

Look for solutions instead of obstacles. Plan ahead; be smart and creative, so that you can enjoy the holidays without wrecking your health. Understand your strengths and weaknesses so that you can determine the triggers that cause you to skip your exercise sessions. Everyone talks about the holiday weight gain. Try not to think like that. Think about being with family and friends while eating in a healthy manner and maintaining a fitness routine.

Use your time management skills.

• You do not have to attend every party. Pick and choose the parties that are important to you. It might be better to rest or exercise than go to another party. Take care of yourself. Get enough sleep, a flu shot, wash your hands, and eat nutritious foods

• It is important to learn how to say no. Learn to say no to a party or a sugary treat that your spouse or co-workers gives you. The pressure to give in can be great; we don’t want to put a damper on the merrymaking or disappoint loved ones.

• You also do not have to cook every single dish for a dinner that you are hosting. Have each guest bring something-a side dish or a dessert.

• Adults do not need to exchange gifts-pick a name out of a hat and buy one gift.

How will you handle all the food at the parties?

• Plan in advance. Drink a couple glasses of water and have a light snack before you go to a party so that you will not be ravenous which leads to poor food selection. Hunger can undo the best intentions. Showing up to those holiday buffets on a semi-satisfied stomach will save you a lot of calories.

• If you’re traveling for the holidays, pick up some healthy, portable snacks at the grocery store before you leave so you’re less likely to be tempted by unhealthy options.

• Be aware. Be conscious of what you eat and how much. Avoid sources of temptation whenever you can. Try to focus in on some healthier options when you are at that office holiday party. If the office break room is filled with cookies, fruitcake, and eggnog, try not to go in there.

• Bring a veggie platter so that you know there will be something healthy to eat.
• Small portion sizes and no seconds

• Alternate your alcohol with a glass of water. Drink a lot of water before the party. The alcohol served at many social events can also destroy our resolve to eat in moderation.

• Walk around the buffet table first. Be a food snob. A large percentage of the food on the buffet table is really not that delicious.

How can I fit in fitness?

• Schedule fitness into your day. Don’t let a busy schedule get in the way of your exercise program. You need to exercise over the next few months more than ever. There is always an excuse not to exercise.

• Exercise first thing in the morning when you have more energy. It will also reduce stress, which will help you to control your food intake.

• You can break up exercise into several 10-minute exercise sessions.

• Walk at lunchtime.

• Save time by using HIIT.

• Think about which exercises you like to do and you will be more likely to do them.

• Book a trip for January or February, which will motivate you to exercise in order to look good at the beach.

• Find an exercise buddy for companionship.

• Hire a Personal Trainer for accountability

The Massive Fitness Trend That’s Not Healthy

There is a massive trend in the fitness industry to glorify exercise as an all-out war on the body. I call it the militarization of fitness—all the boot camps, Marine-inspired workouts, ridiculously intense body building routines, and general glorification of pain. Even our recovery and regeneration techniques are prioritized by how painful they are. (Got a knot in your hip flexor? Go roll that sh!t with a baseball!)

This trend is a symptom of a much larger disease. We live in a culture obsessed with aggression, and it has found its way into every facet of our lives, even our workouts.

Exhaustion Is Not a Status Symbol

Well, exhaustion actually is a status symbol in our culture. And that’s the problem—we’re working and training ourselves to death. From a young age, we’re bombarded with the message that to be successful, we must work overtime, sacrifice our health, friends, even happiness and sanity to achieve what we want.

Being chronically exhausted is not the key to success. It’s a race toward disease and dysfunction. And in most cases, it causes suffering that is 100 percent preventable. Some people, like Dr. Meyer Freidman, the doctor who first identified the type-A personality trait, calls this western disease “the hurry sickness.”

We never say things like “I bet I can experience kidney failure before you!” But that’s how many of us behave. Even in the fitness industry, there are tons of people who look strong on the outside and are weak as sh!t on the inside. And do you know what we call them? Leaders. Because other people pay them good money to inherit their same warped and superficial understanding of fitness.

Our ‎cultural pathology can be summed up pretty easily: too much yang, not enough yin; too much doing, not enough being; too much work, not enough play; too masculine, not enough feminine.

How Does the Militarization of Fitness Affect Your Workout?

In every way possible. It affects your health, happiness, the sustainability of your program, and your ability to reach your goals.

Do you believe any of the following are true?

No pain, no gain. You have to suffer to get in shape.
More is always more. Duh.
Working out is not fun, but it’s an obligation.
If I don’t almost throw up, I’m holding back too much.
You’re only as good as your last workout.
I feel like a loser when I miss a workout.
If you answered yes, then you’re at the “exercise is war” understanding of fitness. And that’s fine—if you want to wage war on your body, go ahead. Many of us go through that phase. I spent a decade there, with plenty of joint casualties and war stories to prove it. So I’m not belittling you—I’m just saying that this isn’t the only way to train, and it sure as heck isn’t sustainable. And if you can benefit from my experience and mistakes, that would be swell.

So What’s the Other Option?

Well, there are many options. But one of them is to decide that learning about the body and what it takes to nourish, strengthen, and heal it is a lifelong process, adventure, exploration, and privilege, not a burdensome obligation, nor a military operation.

There are plenty of people who love dancing and dance their way to a new body. Others get a deep satisfaction out of practicing martial arts and kung fu their way to super fitness glory. Then there are the yogis, who use movement as a way to manifest their bodies greatness.

None of these perspectives are right or wrong, but they’re all worthy of being explored if you truly want a sustainable, comprehensive, and balanced movement practice. Depth and breadth of perspective, my friends. That’s why you’re here, reading this post and not one of those cheesy, superficial robot fitness sites.

Using Intensity Wisely and Normalizing Discomfort

There is a huge difference between using intensity wisely and using intensity compulsively. To reach your fitness goals, you will need to confront your limits and learn to handle discomfort. So don’t use this post as an excuse to take it easy all the time. In fact, that’s just as much of a trap as working out hard all the time.

Find the middle ground. Be OK with discomfort, and learn to interpret your body’s language, sensations, and signals, so you know which days you can/should push and which days you need to back off and recover. This is something you can’t outsource, and the better you get at listening to how your body feels, the easier it is to train hard, reach your goals, and avoid injuries and disease.

Are you willing to destroy your body to look super hot at age 30? Or are you willing to take a deeper look, explore the “less is more” philosophy, let go of your “no pain no gain” programming, and let your health, strength, and goals evolve in a natural way so that you’re having new adventures and movement experiences well into your 90s?

All health and fitness goals require sustained motivation. It’s an adventure, not a destination, and you’ll enjoy the adventure way more if you make it your own instead of following the herd.

Now drop and give me 20 push-ups!
Jonathan Angelilli

Summer- Time to Evaluate Your Lifestyle 


Summer- Time to evaluate your lifestyle 
Are you taking your nutrition, lifestyle, exercise, or sleep seriously? Are you managing your stress? What about your weight? Physical activity can help. It can decrease depression and anxiety, reduce stress, increase confidence; and help with weight control. Contact me at caroljmichaels@gmail.com to get started.

I am happy to announce my book, Exercises for Cancer Survivors, was highlighted in the summer 2014 issue of the American Institute for Cancer Research. The summer issue of Women magazine contained an excerpt of my book and Morris Essex magazine did a feature on my Recovery Fitness program at Gilda’s Club. As if that was not enough, I was interviewed last week on the radio. Here’s the link http://www.curepanel.carefeed.net/event/rsvp/Exercising-with-Cancer-Why-and-How-it-Helps/41/ The show was hosted by Richard Davis. I was on the panel along with Dr. Donald Abrams and Dr. June Chan. Stay tuned for my upcoming radio interview with Cancer Support Community.

Summer- Time to evaluate your lifestyle

Are you taking your nutrition, lifestyle, exercise, or sleep seriously? Are you managing your stress?  What about your weight?

Physical activity can help.  It can decrease depression and anxiety, reduce stress, increase confidence; and help with weight control.

I am happy to announce my book was highlighted in the summer 2014 issue of American Institute for Cancer Research. The summer issue of Women magazine contained an excerpt of my book and Morris Essex magazine did a feature on my Recovery Fitness program at Gilda’s Club. As if that was not enough, I was interviewed last week on the radio.  Here’s the link http://www.curepanel.carefeed.net/event/rsvp/Exercising-with-Cancer-Why-and-How-it-Helps/41/   The show was hosted by Richard Davis.  I was on the panel along with Dr. Donald Abrams and Dr. June Chan.