The holidays are a time for spreading cheer, but also the season for spreading waistlines.
More than one-third of U.S. Adults are obese which puts them at risk for heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In fact, a recent study from the University of Manchester suggests that gaining even a few extra pounds — which we are prone to do over the holiday season — increases our cancer risk by up to 50 percent.
But while the holidays can be challenging for those trying to maintain a healthy diet and weight level, they are also a good time to focus on family health and wellness.
Denise Austin, one of the nation’s tip fitness experts, says it’s all about balance. She’s been a long-time advocate of making fitness fun and family oriented to achieve long-lasting results.
“We are a huge family and like any typical American family, celebrate the holidays with good food and fun,” she tells Newsmax Health. “As a family of almost 40 people gathering together, we eat big meals, enjoy each other’s company and play fun games, and relax!”
Austin, a pioneer in the fitness history who has sold over 24 million exercise videos and DVDs, starred in the longest running fitness show in the history of television.
Today, the pert and perky icon is joined by one of her daughters, Katie, who is following in her mom’s fitness footsteps encouraging millennial girls all over the world to spread her message of self love and positive body image.
“What better time than during the holidays to talk to your family about health and fitness,” says Katie, whose website is getfitwithkatie.com. “Health is the greatest gift you can give your family. Sure we indulge and enjoy the food and celebration but we also include walks and in-home workouts. It’s all about balance!”
Here are the Austin family’s holiday tips:
Plan ahead for big meals. Before you go to a holiday party, eat a little something to fill you up so you don’t over indulge in party food. It’s also a good idea to drink a glass of hot tea beforehand to ease your digestive system.
Move away from the table. When you’re at the party, try not to stand next to the buffet table. “It’s too hard to resist all that great food!” says Katie. “Sometimes we don’t realize how much we are eating while we are conversing.”
Some exercise is better than none. Fit 10 minutes of exercise a day during the hectic season even if you’re super busy or traveling. “Your immune system may be compromised with all the stress so make sure your give it a little boost when you can,” notes Denise.
Work out with your family. Encourage your family to eat well but schedule exercise breaks too as you gather together. “Take a brisk walk before or after your meals or organize a skating party,” says Katie.
Don’t skip meals. Even though you may have eaten a huge dinner with your family, don’t skip breakfast because you will slow down your metabolism. Eat a lighter snack, of course, but make sure you stay on track for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Stretch away stress. To ease the tension of holiday shopping and preparation take a few minutes each morning and evening to stretch out your muscles. You can visit Katie’s web site or deniseaustin.com for suggestions and sample workouts.
Drink tons of water. Bring a reusable water bottle to work or school so you can drink throughout the day. Water will stop you from mindlessly eating and keep off the extra pounds. Also, when flying, drink a glass of water for each hour in the air to keep your body hydrated.
Limit alcohol. Drink a glass of water for each alcoholic beverage you consume during the holiday festivities. This helps eliminate the unwanted effects — think hangovers! — of over imbibing.
Work out at home. In-home workouts are the best to do during the holiday season. “It can be cold outside and you may not want to leave the comfort of your home and family,” says Katie. “That’s why my mom and I are here to help you. We have tons of in home workout videos on our web sites that you can do to stay in shape over the holidays. Focus on what you CAN do, not what you can’t.”
Don’t be too self-critical. Don’t beat yourself up over an overindulgent meal or skipped workout because of the unusual hustle and bustle of the holidays.
“Try your best but let go of trying to be perfect,” says Denise. “Remember that it’s family first this time of year so if Grandma makes your favorite dessert, eat and enjoy every moment without guilt.”