Just in time for the holidays! We thought you all would enjoy some timely tips on staying in shape throughout all those upcoming turkey and ham dinners. We have a very “proactively festive” staff here at COCA, and have been holding ourselves back from going nuts on the holiday decor, holiday parties, and holiday treats. But, we also have a health- and fitness-conscious culture. Sarah McKenney is the perfect embodiment of both! (Her staff-wide “Turkey Burner Challenge” is back by popular demand this November – a month-long goal of exercising off all those Thanksgiving calories BEFORE the holiday, so we can enjoy a guilt-free feast knowing we have already burnt off the excess.) Without further ado, let’s hear what she’s got to say about holiday fitness!
Kate: I can attest to that fact that you are extremely motivating to everyone in the office! Can you share some of your top tips for staying in shape over the holidays?
Sarah: It’s all about moderation. It’s easy to say you’re not going to have that 2nd piece of pumpkin pie, but in reality you’re going to have that 2nd piece of delicious pumpkin pie! It’s ok to treat yourself, but not every day. Pick a day of the week to make your treat day and every other day, be good. This short term goal will give you something to look forward to. Along with your diet, you have to have exercise as part of your daily routine to maintain a healthy weight and stay in shape. Some days you may have an hour to work out, but others you may only have 25 minutes. It’s ok to vary your times…every little bit helps!
Kate: It seems like we get so much conflicting advice regarding the best ways to stay healthy. What’s really more important – diet or exercise?
Sarah: I don’t think one is more important than the other…they go hand in hand. To lose weight you have burn more calories than you take in. Exercising while dieting will give you a better and faster result.
Kate: Here’s an important one going into the holiday party season. Can you give me some good basic rules for determining portion sizes?
Sarah: Ahh yes, portion control! Something I struggle with myself. When eating out, I always think I have to eat until I’m full or not eat enough and am still hungry. Neither will work well for me in the long run. You have to eat until you’re satisfied. Having a small salad full of veggies and low calorie dressing before a meal will help. All the fiber in the veggies will fill you up faster. It’s ok to ask for a to-go box – even before you start eating. You can put half your meal away before you begin and enjoy it the next day. Portion control relates well to self-control. If you can control your arm from reaching across the table to savor that last turkey leg sitting on the platter then you will reap the benefits later.
Kate: OK, so we need to pace ourselves…but it’s not only the amount of food that matters, it’s the nutritional content of the food itself. For example, every Thanksgiving, my mom makes the most delicious German Chocolate cake you can imagine – do I have to avoid it?
Sarah: No! I would avoid having the scoop of vanilla ice cream along with the cake as well as having seconds, but having one slice is not going to hurt. Make Thanksgiving your treat day, so you will not feel guilty having the piece of cake.
Kate: How do you psyche yourself up for a great workout on days when you’re just not feeling it?
Sarah: I always think about how good I feel after a great workout. I also like to make play lists on my iPod. I either download new music or switch around my existing play lists. I actually get excited to go for a run just so I can listen to my new play list. Another good tactic is working out with a friend. Knowing that you have to meet someone at the gym or at the park for a run helps. It’s easy to let yourself down, but not so easy letting someone else down.
Kate: I don’t have a gym membership – what are some good ways to exercise at home when it’s too cold for outdoor activities?
Sarah: Exercising doesn’t have to cost you a thing! You can use items in your house to get the same results at the gym. Take 2 soup cans out of your cabinet for weights, use a chair for tricep dips, use your stairs for step ups and lunges, push ups on the ground, etc. Think of 3 exercises you can do with household items and make it a circuit workout…do each exercise 3 times. End with push ups, abs, and stretching. You can also go on YouTube and view other exercises you can do in your home. Follow the instructor on your computer!
Awesome tips – thank you so much for stopping by, Sarah! We will definitely be reporting back in the future with more seasonal fitness tips from our resident expert. All of us at COCA hope you just got a little more motivated to enjoy happy, healthy holidays!
By Sarah McKenney and Kate Olympiadis. Sarah is a fitness lover and half marathon runner who works in the Education department at COCA. She also teaches many early childhood dance classes as well as fitness classes. Sarah enjoys motivating friends, family and co-workers to get and stay in shape!