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Ester Marsh: How to keep weight off during the holidays

As I have mentioned before, it is disheartening seeing how quickly holiday meals can add up the calories. I believe with awareness and knowledge of what it takes to burn those extra calories, you will survive these holidays with no or minimal weight gain.

Recently, I showed you the calories that were in a typical Thanksgiving meal and how much you had to run to burn those calories off. A typical Thanksgiving meal will add 1280 calories to your daily  intake (and the portions were not crazy at all. I know I eat more at a Thanksgiving meal)

Be aware how many calories go in your body and remember how hard you had to work to burn them off. By making the right choices and especially portion control, you can be successful keeping your weight the same through the holidays. People have asked me if there are other options besides running to burn calories. Here they are:

• General dancing for 30 minutes: 240 calories

• Moderate walking for 30 minutes: 112 calories

• Race walking for 30 minutes: 205 calories

• Free style vigorous swimming for 30 minutes: 636 calories

• Light to moderate swimming for 30 minutes: 506 calories

• Leisure swimming for 30 minutes: 381 calories

• Moderate water aerobics for 30 minutes: 125 calories

• Moderate weight workout for 30 minutes: 100 calories

• Put put for 30 minutes: 100 calories

• Bowling for 30 minutes: 100 calories

Most of these activities are based on a 140-150-pound person. The heavier you are, the more calories you burn with the same activities. There are plenty of websites with calories counters where you put in your weight, age and exercise to get closer to your actual calories burned. It is still an average but it can help you from gaining weight through the holiday season. If you are currently not doing anything active,  I challenge you to start now. Why wait until January? Starting now will help keep your calorie intake and calories burn balanced.

To start an exercise program, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) exercise recommendations are the following:

• Cardiovascular ( aerobics, swimming, biking, running, etc.): 3-5 days per week, 57-94 percent of your maximum heart rate, 20- 90 minutes per session, large muscle groups continue in motion.

• Muscular Strength (weight training, Bodypump, Powerflex or any other weight training classes): 2-3 days a week or more (make sure each muscle group rests 48 hours before you do strength training on that same muscle again), 8-12 repetitions, 2-4 sets of 8-10 exercises. Major muscle groups, full range of motion with a controlled speed.

• Flexibility (stretching, Yoga, Estelatte): 2-3 or more days a week, go to mild discomfort, hold 15-60 seconds each for 3-4 reps. Static or assisted stretch, no bouncing.

Before you start any exercise program, make sure you check with your doctor if you have any of the following:

• Are a male 45 years and older or a female 55 years and older

• Family history (such as heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.)

• If you are a smoker

• If you are a couch potato

• If you struggle with obesity

• If your blood pressure is more than 140/90 or you are on medication for high blood pressure

• High cholesterol (200 or higher)

• Blood sugar levels (pre-diabetic, diabetic)

Once again, I have not met a doctor who does not recommend exercising.

• Join a reputable exercise establishment, such as the YMCA or the Forum.

• Set goals that are recommended by the ACSM (listed above).

• Make a contract with yourself, schedule your workouts, plan your holiday dinners and set reasonable goals for at least the next two months.

• Become active as a family. Just because someone is not overweight does not mean they are healthy or do not have to exercise. Doing this as a family makes you more successful and it brings you closer together throughout the holiday season and beyond..

And remember — don’t give up. If you fall off the wagon, climb back on.

Ester Marsh, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and Health and Fitness Director JF Hurly family YMCA



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