SAN DIEGO—Adding a few extra pounds and inches during the holidays has always been a concern, but with the increasing rates of obesity and weight-related diseases such as type II diabetes and heart disease, Americans need to be a little more serious about celebratory food habits. Luckily, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and its weight-loss spokesperson, Dr. Daniel S. Kirschenbaum, have some sensible nutrition and fitness advice for the season.
In his recently published book The 9 Truths about Weight Loss: The No-Tricks, No-Nonsense Plan for Lifelong Weight Control (Henry Holt, May 2000), endorsed by ACE, Dr. Kirschenbaum provides the following tips to help people cope with high-calorie holiday temptations:
· Avoid starvation before a celebration. This can lead to problematic binge eating. Instead, eat a low-fat, low-sugar breakfast and lunch. Also, eating a small snack before the party may help.
· Scope out the food scene. After arriving at a party, quickly survey the available options. Look for fresh vegetables and other low-fat, low-sugar foods. This might prevent snacking on high-fat snacks such as chips, dips, nuts and party mixes.
· Use a food plan. Once aware of the available party foods that you plan to eat, develop a plan for the entire party. During a conversation, hold a glass of diet soda or water [instead of a plate].
· Refocus your holiday season. This suggestion goes well beyond an individual event or party. Holiday celebrations are traditionally focused around food. Break that tradition by focusing on other people, special projects, and finding new, creative ways to relax [instead of eating].
In addition to Dr. Kirschenbaum’s healthy eating tips, ACE encourages everyone to maintain, or even increase, their activity level during the holiday season. Don’t wait until January to make fitness resolutions. Start before the holidays. Here are a few guidelines from ACE:
· Be specific about fitness goals. Rather than saying, “I will exercise more,” how about “I will go to the afternoon aerobics class on Tuesday and Thursday, and work out in the weight room on Monday and Friday.”
· Make changes for the right reasons. You must believe that you are beginning a fitness program in order to take better care of yourself and to get more out of life.
· Be creative. Maybe the behavior you wish to change can dovetail with other goals. Do you need to both exercise and spend more time with your family? How about a trip to the park where your children can bike while you take a brisk walk?
· Be realistic. Be sure your plan is realistic and fits into your lifestyle. Will you really have energy to go to an evening exercise class? Make changes as easy and convenient as possible.
· Anticipate roadblocks. What could prevent you from sticking to your resolutions? Cold weather? Illness? Fatigue? Lack of time? Make a plan for coping with the inevitable obstacles of life. And, don't let a few days of relapse turn into a year of unfulfilled resolutions. Life is a compromise; do the best you can to get back on track.
· Have fun and get involved. It's easier to stick to your plans when you feel good. Replace the rewards of your old pattern (if there were any) with something else. Trying to eat less fat? Be sure your food is still delicious and enjoy your meals. Make your life as pleasant as possible during this period of behavior change. Get involved in activities that help you feel happy and fulfilled.
· Find a partner. Working out alone often is an oasis of solitude in a busy day, but maybe you need some company. Exercise companions add a social element to any routine. Ask a friend to be your workout partner—you won’t skip a workout if someone is waiting for you.
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of physical activity and protecting consumers against unsafe and ineffective fitness products and instruction. As the nation’s “workout watchdog,” ACE conducts university-based research and testing that targets fitness products and trends. ACE sets standards for fitness professionals and is the world’s largest nonprofit fitness certifying organization. For more information on ACE and its programs, call (800) 825-3636 or log onto the ACE Web site at www.acefitness.org.
When people decide to make better-health resolutions at the beginning of the year, they often have specific exercise-related questions. ACE can provide the answers during the 2001 “Fitness on Call” event, Jan. 13, 6 a.m.-5 p.m. (PST). Throughout the event, which is free to callers, ACE-certified fitness professionals will take calls from the public on every fitness and exercise question under the sun. The toll-free number for “Fitness on Call” is 1-888-397-2473 (EXRCISE).