Taking the pressure off holiday health concerns

Published 6:19 pm Saturday, December 10, 2016

This most wonderful time of the year is actually the most dreaded time of the year for some.

For those who are struggling to lose weight or keep their weight in check, the holiday season of eating can create a particular challenge.

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However, Linda Fondren, founder of Shape Up Sisters, has some advice that can take a little of the pressure off the holiday season for many. She spoke Wednesday to the Healthy Woman lunch group at Merit Health River Region Medical Center.

“I want women to know, if you overindulged at Thanksgiving, or if you overindulge during the holidays, that’s not going to get you out of shape,” she said. “I want women to know the holiday season isn’t about depravation and dieting. It’s time to celebrate with family and friends and enjoy the holidays.”

Instead, Fondren recommends shifting into “weight maintenance mode.” She suggested putting weight loss off until after the first of the year.

“Let’s leave all the suffering until January,” she said.

Chief among her maintenance recommendations is to walk a mile a day.

“I want them walking a mile a day — a minimum of a mile a day — for the rest of the holiday season,” Fondren said. “If they aren’t walking, they should do equivalent exercise or an activity that burns about 100 calories. The point is to get moving.”

Fondren also recommends the 80/20 rule of eating.

“That means 80 percent of your food should be the good kind — the clean, healthy, unprocessed, high-fiber foods we should be eating most of the time. The other 20 percent represents the junk food and cocktails,” she said. “If you plan to have a glass or two of wine with dinner, perhaps you should have the baked fish and a salad, or something a little healthier. If you’re not going to drink at all, then help yourself to the turkey, dressing and pecan pie. Either way, have fun with family and friends.

“Lots of us go to parties this time of year. My recommendation is don’t hang around the food table. Conversation is calorie free. Go and socialize. Strike up a conversation,” Fondren suggested.

Another recommendation for holiday time and beyond is to reduce the amount of time you sit during the day.

“I tell people to reduce sitting time to less than three hours a day. You need to get up. If you work in an office setting, set an alarm and get up every hour and move around. Take the stairs or walk whenever possible. Stand up and talk on your telephone instead of sitting at your desk,” she said.

Fondren uses a standing desk in her home office.

“Right now as I’m talking to you, I’m standing up and walking around. Don’t sit. We need to stand more,” she said.

Some people, who may go to a gym and exercise the recommended three days a week, can effectively undo the benefits of that exercise if they are inactive when at home.

“The problem is, when they go home, they sit. They sit at their job for eight hours a day. They go home, maybe do a little housework, but then collapse on the couch and eat. They are actually meeting the physical activity guidelines, but putting themselves at risk because of the inactivity.

“Physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death,” Fondren said. “You know why? We have lots of gadgets and we sit. We’ve got to get up and move more.”