New Castle News

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November 22, 2012

Lori Brothers on Healthy Living: The holidays are here — start moving!

NEW CASTLE — A combination of movement and calm is the only sure way to get through this holiday season without contributing to your weight gain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and unhealthy blood sugar levels.

Research has shown that holiday weight gain “is slight but can last a lifetime,” according to a National Institute of Health study.

Researchers found that volunteers for the study believed that they would gain much more weight over the holidays than they actually did. It turns out that our perceptions about what we are “wolfing down” don’t always add up to what we think.

However, the data reported that while the weight gain was not as dramatic as most participants expected, the weight that was gained was maintained.

The study concluded that on the average, the volunteers gained just over a pound during the six-week interval between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Volunteers who were already overweight were the ones that tended to gain five pounds or more.

Over a lifetime, this can cause significant health risks if the weight stays with us. Gaining 10 pounds over a 10-year period can put you at risk for high blood pressure and diabetes, two of the most prevalent factors for heart disease.

Based on what volunteers reported, level of hunger and level of activity were the two factors that were most influenced weight gain during winter holidays.

This suggests that if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, the surge of high calorie and high fat foods you consume over the holiday is more likely to cause weight gain. If you have an exercise program, or other active lifestyle habits, you will be less likely to make a yearly contribution to that bulge over the holiday months.

With this in mind, don’t you agree this is the perfect time to commit to any extra physical movement that you can?  

Move, move, move. Meet with a friend after work to walk, or do an exercise DVD before/after dinner. Take the steps instead of the elevator. Park farther from the grocery store and walk the extra 20 or 30 feet. Just move more.

 The irony is that not only do we need to move our bodies more, we actually need to rest our bodies sufficiently also.

It has been proven clinically that when your body does not have time to “recover” from the demands of daily living, which can tend to increase over the holidays, we actually can deposit fat around the middle due to the increase of stress hormones.

Adrenaline and cortisol become corrosive to body systems when we don’t give ourselves sufficient time to restore and rejuvenate. This restorative practice should be done in a quiet setting from 5 to 20 minutes at a time. It is separate from sleep time.

Meditation is becoming more popular as a tool to balance stress hormones. This is a practice of focusing your attention so that you can interrupt the stress patterns in your body, and consciously calm and restore your body and mind.

Breaking the cycles that cause tension and stress to our system can start with something easy like finding a picture with a scene that calms you, or makes you happy. Focus on the picture and the good feelings it evokes for 5 to 20 minutes. Breathe.

If you don’t have an actual picture, use a great memory of a vacation spot you love or a happy activity you share with your family that you value. Visualize. Remember the place or event with all of your senses. Hear, smell, feel, see until you’ve shifted how you feel inside. Find your inner smile or a sense of peace and calm.

The impact of more movement and creating calm is the ticket to happy and healthy holidays and beyond.

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