Ester Marsh column: Burning up the extra holiday calories

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 21, 2015

I made it back safe and sound from the Netherlands, and had the best time with my family and friends. Many people have asked about the airport security. You definitely can tell that security has stepped up but I felt it was done with respect and efficiency. Because there were a lot more security personnel on hand, the time going through didn’t take any longer than usual. But just in case, if you are flying this holiday season, give yourself some extra time to get your bags checked and go through security.

I don’t know about you but when I go home, I like to eat the things I can’t eat here. In the 27 years I have lived in the U.S., I have been able to go home once a year. And the closer the time comes to leave, the more my mind is enjoying the foods I would eat there. So for about 18 years, I would go home, eat anything that I couldn’t have here and gain about five pounds. I would return and get back on my normal routine and lose the extra weight in about a week or two. No worries right?

Well, when I turned 40, I could definitely tell that my metabolism had slowed down. I had heard stories about that happening, but I didn’t believe it would happen to me. The next time I came back from the Netherlands, the extra weight took longer to come off. I started to realize that many times I would eat something just because it was in front me. So this time, before eating, I asked myself: “is this worthy to be eaten?” “Do I really want it?” Surprisingly, there were foods I really didn’t miss — I was just eating them because they were there.

So I started making a mental list of the foods I absolutely wanted to have when I was there. Also, I made sure I exercised every day (walking, cycling, etc.). I was able to eat the foods that were on my list, but I didn’t gain any weight because I kept moving.

The holiday season is pretty much the same way. Whether you go back to your home state/country or stay right where you are, so many foods are being shared right now and people love to show their love with home-baked goods. It’s so easy to eat everything that comes in front of your nose. For me, sweet baked goods are my weakness. I have learned that many treats are not worth the extra calories, but I especially hate crashing after the “sugar high.” Research shows that many people will gain 7-10 pounds over the holidays(!). I have found that you can have very good and healthier foods if you just research new recipes. Just remember to ask yourself, “Is this what I really want right now?” or “is it worth of the calories?” One of my favorite questions to ask myself is “how many miles will have to run to burn this off?” There is nothing wrong with eating holiday foods and pastries — it’s the amount you eat and how long your holiday season lasts that will make the difference.

I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. The YMCA is closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day but I hope to see you bright and early Saturday, Dec. 28, when we re-open at 8 a.m.!

Ester H Marsh Associate Executive Director JF Hurley Family YMCA.