Don’t Fall for These Six Holiday Diet & Exercise Myths

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‘Tis the season to eat, drink and be merry!

But indulging with abandon has a way of backfiring around this time of year — especially when we’re full of reasons for  getting back on track tomorrow.

Only the problem is that ‘tomorrow’ is almost a month from now. 

So to help separate fact from fiction, Marsha Hudnall, president and co-owner of Green Mountain weight management program, shared with me her top five myths about diet and exercise around the holidays.

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Bottom line: It’s cool to partake in all of the festivities, just keep your wits about you!

Myth No. 1: Diet before and during the holiday season.

Reality: Learn to eat mindfully instead (i.e. listen to what your body is telling you and try to be aware of when you are full or satisfied). Make decisions that leave you feeling good about yourself and your choices, even if one of those choices is to have that delicious dessert. It’s not about ‘naughty’ or ‘nice’ foods. It’s about eating in a way that makes you feel satisfied — both while eating and afterwards.

Myth No. 2: Double up on your workout to shed those extra calories.

Reality: Regular physical activities that you enjoy are as beneficial for optimal health as they are for weight management. It’s less about burning calories and more about moving to feel good, which sets you up for making better choices. Exercise in excess is usually not healthy — and even worse, an injury could keep you from feeling less than merry this season.

Myth No. 3: Weigh yourself daily to help control your eating.

Reality: Lets face it — we all fluctuate on a daily basis when it comes to the numbers on the scale. Weighing yourself often only has a negative impact on self-esteem and decreases motivation for self-care. Focusing on how your state of mind and your energy levels helps you make smarter, more sustainable eating choices.

Myth No. 4: With a little planning, you can successfully navigate six holiday parties in one evening.

Reality: Over-committing can cause stress, which often leads to emotional overeating. Try committing to fewer parties and hosting simpler celebrations. Being more relaxed will help you actually enjoy the holidays, which also helps set you up for success in the New Year and beyond.

Myth No. 5: It’s okay to overindulge during holiday celebrations; you can “get back on track” tomorrow.

Reality: Eat what you want to avoid the feelings of deprivation that drive overeating, but try being more of a foodie during the holidays (and year-round!). By being particular about what you eat, you’ll choose only those items that truly delight your taste buds and leave you feeling like you indulged without going overboard.

Myth No. 6: When it comes to leftovers, it’s ‘the more, the merrier!’

Reality: If having extra food or leftovers lying around drives you to eat more than you need, considering donating it to local shelters or giving it away to family members, neighbors, etc. It’s a great way to share the love during the holiday season without packing on those unnecessary pounds.

How do you keep holiday weight gain at bay?

Tabata HIIT Holiday Workout

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year, yes. But it’s also the time of year that can start to undo all the hard work you’ve put in over the past 11 months.

Think the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s aren’t taking a toll on your waistline? Despite media exaggerations, the average person only puts on a measly pound or two.

So what’s the problem? Well, it’s not so much the weight gain, but the fact that most people won’t ever lose that weight…so the scale slowly starts to creep up over the years.

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But the good news is that you can do something about it. A lot, actually.

Don’t wait until January 1st to commit to a healthy eating and regular exercise regimen. And being strapped for time over the next few months is no excuse, which is why I put together this quick Tabata High-Intensity-Interval-Training Holiday workout — not only can you do it anywhere, but it also doesn’t require any equipment.

In just 30 minutes, you can get your heart rate up, burn some calories and build muscle — all of which will help you hit those New Year’s goals early. Now that’s something you can toast to on December 31st!

What’s your game plan for avoiding unnecessary holiday weight gain?

November Goal Check-In

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It’s hard to believe that just a little over a month from now we’ll be talking 2016. But for the time being, I’m focused on closing out the current year on a high note with respect to the goals I’ve been tracking the past 11 months.

Of course, things have been evolving with Baby H on board, but I wanted to use this post to check back in on my original plans for 2015. It’s never too late to shift course — even with 30 days left in this final push — and there’s no time like the present to figure out how to make the most of the upcoming month.

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working this year.

Here’s the latest on my progress:

1. Seeking Balance

My original goal here was “quality over quantity” for the year, and I put it into practice this month while doing another round of travel. Long flights, time zone changes and family obligations meant that “training” had to be modified, which I used to view as a setback but now see as an opportunity to rest, recover and challenge by body in new ways (like keeping up with my toddler nephew in the snow!).

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Literally speaking, however, the “balance” theme has also been evolving to include learning how to use my new, ever-changing body. From knocking things off store shelves thanks to new dimensions to resorting to trial and error when it comes to which workouts work, it’s continuing to be a learning experience.

2. Training Smarter

My hope here was to experiment with my training repertoire to build on last season’s lessons rather than run myself into the ground doing things the same old way. I’ve been keeping up my functional fitness and cross training, but oddly enough it took getting pregnant to get me to finally slow my roll when it comes to doing one of my favorite activities: running.

All the massages, foam rolling, stretching, eating healthy and whatever other add-ons I’ve tried in the past weren’t helping to rid me of some lingering issues — namely plantar fasciitis and SI joint pain. So I’m trying to view these next few months of forced rest as something that will help me come back stronger next season.

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But just because regular runs are now off the table doesn’t mean that I can’t keep moving. On the contrary, I’ve been just as active as ever, delving into more baby-body-friendly classes, such as my MYMA Mama prenatal movement class, as well as the Mod-Mama class at Mod Physique, to help build those “mommy muscles” in anticipation of what’s to come this March.

3. Facing Fears

I declared 2014 as the year of #bikelove, but I wasn’t going to go so far as to use that same strong language for 2015 when it came to swimming. However, I’m happy to report that pregnancy has also been helping me out here; after months of talking about it, I’ve put my money where my mouth is and have been consistent with weekly swim workouts since week 20 of pregnancy!

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Of course, the purchase of a brand spankin’ new Coeur swimsuit to cover my growing curves helped. As did reading about all the benefits of swimming while pregnant.

Something that temporarily relieves me of the extra weight I’m carrying and can help keep side effects such as swelling and excess weight gain at bay? Sign me up.

4. Pushing Myself

Since I wasn’t in peak training mode going in, I knew that this pregnancy wouldn’t be a time to pursue that duathlon, next ultramarathon or century ride that I’d hoped this year would bring. But it hasn’t completely kept me from being competitive — even if my race-day game plans have gone from “Can I get a new personal record?” to “Can I run the whole way without walking?”

Case in point: Last weeks’ Corvallis Turkey Trot in which I opted to drop down to a 5k from my original 10k. It wasn’t necessarily pretty, but I’m happy to report that I was able to jog the whole 3.1 miles, despite having to pull over several times to adjust that darn pregnancy support belt!

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And, yes, although I said I was done with races for the year…I am still toying with the idea of a holiday 5k. Just for fun, of course, and schedule permitting! But we shall see where December takes us; right now, I’m approaching things one day at a time.

5. Giving Back

Technically, this goal was met and exceeded for the year back in October — BOOM! — but since there was a lot of interest, we’ve been holding biweekly LUNA off-season workouts. The lovely Vanessa has graciously offered to lead them in my absence, but I hope to get out there soon to join the ladies and head up a hiking group while they hit the trails for a run.

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We’re also taking applications for next season’s team leaders (just a few spots remain!), so email me at tlcportlandrun (at) gmail (dot) com if you’re interested. All levels are welcome (walkers, runners), and if you want to see what we’re all about you can check out our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

How are your 2015 goals coming along? 

Race Report: Corvallis Turkey Trot

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Although my pregnant running days are quickly waning thanks to a cranky ligament on my left side, I can never seem to resist a good pre-Thanksgiving Turkey Trot. So by the time our holiday plans were solidified this year, I was online searching for a local event for Ben and I to do before the traditional festivities (family, food and football watching) commenced.

Enter the Corvallis Turkey Trot, a family-friendly event in Ben’s hometown. A short race-morning commute, plentiful parking and a flat and fast course through surrounding neighborhoods made this one a no-brainer.

As race day drew nearer, however, my gut told me that my original pick of the 10k over the 5k was a bit overly ambitious considering my current condition. It’s never fun going into a race worrying about whether or not complete the distance, so at packet pickup I opted to drop down to the 5k distance instead.

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Ben stuck with the 10k group, which started at 8:05 am, so I stood on the sidelines to cheer them on as they took off. Then it was back to the car (ample race-day parking FTW!) for 10 minutes to stay warm until the 5k’ers took off.

The temperature was a “balmy” 27 degrees, so I spent my final moments trying to figure out what to wear because I still hadn’t decided whether I’d be jogging or walking the 3.1 miles. In the end, I figured I’d at least give jogging a shot, so I ditched my coat and gloves before I locked up and headed over to the start line.

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Here’s how the next half hour or so played out in my head after the gun went off:

  • Mile .1: Wheee! I’m running again! 
  • Mile .2: This feels AWESOME. Why did I ever stop running?! I should go FASTER! 
  • Mile .3: Hm, I think I might have to pee. 
  • Mile .4: Why am I so out of breath?
  • Mile .5: I definitely have to pee.
  • Mile .6: Pregnancy support belt has migrated from below belly to above waist and is now crushing my bladder. Pull over to re-adjust.
  • Mile .9: Strava crashes, my music dies, and now I can’t take any mid-race pictures. Bummer. 
  • Mile 1.1: Pull over to adjust pregnancy support belt for second time.
  • Mile 1.3: Why are my shins tight? Oh, that’s right; I haven’t been running in a few weeks, and now I’m trying to “race.”
  • Mile 1.4: I’ve really gotta pee.
  • Mile 1.5: Pull over to adjust pregnancy support belt for third time.
  • Mile 1.7: Yep, still have to pee.
  • Mile 1.9: Screw the support belt. Note to self: Never again wearing it over slippery spandex tights. Resort to tugging it down while running.
  • Mile 2: Only one more mile to go! 
  • Mile 2.2: Curse support belt while tugging it down. Again. Debate letting it just ride up and letting the belly fly for the rest of the race.
  • Mile 2.3: Seriously, is this baby using my bladder as a trampoline?
  • Mile 2.5: Slightly loosen support belt while shimmying it down around my hips. Stay put! Only a half mile more to go. 
  • Mile 2.7: Support belt, you are now the BANE OF MY EXISTENCE. Tug, shimmy, grimace. Repeat every 100 meters.
  • Mile 3: This feels AWESOME. What have I been complaining about?! I LOVE running! 
  • Mile 3.1: Where’s the bathroom? And the food?

Final time: 30:38 at a 9:51 pace, which was good enough for 12th in my age group.

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And that, my friends, is why I think this may officially be my last race — not only of 2015, but also this pregnancy. Of course “famous last words,” and I’ll never say never (especially when those holiday events come calling…), but as you can see it’s starting to be more trouble than it’s worth.

Luckily, though, I was done in time to get some water, grab Ben’s phone from the car and watch him cross the finish. His final time was 57:19 at a 9:13 pace, which placed him 10th in his age group (not bad, considering he had a porta-potty pullover that cost him a few minutes).

Racing and running aside, we’ve got a lot to be thankful for this year. I hope you and yours had a happy, healthy holiday, as well!

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Did you trot or not this year? Either way, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

Baby H: 24-Week Update

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And just like that, this little wiggle-worm and I are starting the sixth month of pregnancy. Here’s where we’re at for the 24-week “bumpdate” for Baby H…

Month Six: Probably TMI, but here’s a fun fact: Apparently my uterus is now the size of a soccer ball and s/he is as big as an ear of corn, weighting about a pound and a half and measuring roughly a foot long if it were stretched out from head to toe. I’m pretty sure I’ve officially “popped,” although people don’t seem to feel quite comfortable/confident enough yet to ask if I’m pregnant…ha!

Weight Gained: Between 14-15 pounds, and my doctor says I’m right on track. She did issue one warning, though, that it’s a lot easier to pack it on in the second half of pregnancy, so I should be extra careful to not overindulge too much over the holidays (I won’t talk about Halloween’s candy-fest…oops). We don’t own a scale, so I don’t monitor my weight in between check-ups. Honestly, I thought I would feel the extra weight a lot more that I do, but I’m not sure if that’s because it comes on so gradually or if it’s just all the other bodily changes that are more distracting!

Workouts: I’m still keeping up my weekly cardio and cross-training sessions, as I’m trying to make the most of the energy I have while I have it. Of note this month, though, is that running is looking like it’ll be off the table for the immediate future. Following an incredible-feeling six-miler earlier this month with friends, I strained a round ligament on the left side of my groin and could barely walk. I’ve alternated rest and a few attempts at slow jogs since then, but frankly it’s becoming more trouble that it’s worth. My current plan is to give it a week or so of complete rest, and then my doctor said I could try doubling up on the support before making the final call to call it quits for the time being. It’s been an emotional process letting go of certain expectations, but I’m grateful for what I am still able to do, plus I’m taking the advice of this article to heart and keeping things in perspective.

Symptoms: Thanks to the bump making it’s official debut this month, it’s been all about the round ligament pain as my midsection stretches. Oh, and frequent bathroom breaks throughout the day.

Food Aversions: None. But my sense of smell is still super sensitive; I can’t stand the scents of cigarettes or any kind of alcohol on people’s breath.

Food Cravings: My sweet tooth has gone into overdrive, thanks to Halloween and the upcoming holidays. So I’m really trying to limit the treats and make sure I’m filling up on nutrient-dense foods and good fats first. Other than that, hot soups have been my jam now that Portland’s been cold and rainy for the past few weeks.

Sleep: I get up once or twice to hit the bathroom, but if I can MacGuyver a fort of pillows around myself each evening, I’ll usually stay relatively comfortable while dozing on my side.

Looking Forward To: The holidays! It’s always been my favorite time of year…and having our (very active) little jumping bean along for the ride is making 2015 even more special. What am I not looking forward to? The dreaded glucose test and a few shots at my next appointment. But you gotta do what you gotta do, right?

Boy/Girl Suspicions: Still no clue! But can’t wait to find out come March.

Any Fun Stories? Baby H’s movements (i.e. flips, kicks, flops and flutters) have become stronger, more frequent and even a bit more predictable. I can’t help but wonder if there are any early indication of his/her personality. Baby H always seems to be up right as I settle into bed, after my middle-of-the-night bathroom trip and again when my alarm goes off in the morning, so it seems like s/he doesn’t want to be missing out on anything!

Stay tuned for the month seven update in a few weeks…

How I’m Celebrating National Girlfriends Day

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No, really. It’s a thing!

National Girlfriends Day is commemorated every year on August 1st, thanks to the CDC. Not only is the day meant to celebrate female friendships, but it’s also about empowering your girlfriends to take health into their own hands and live a healthier life.

But (sorry, ladies!) there will be no cliché spa days or shopping trips this year. Instead I’ve got a different challenge for each of you: Focus on women’s health and the importance of getting necessary medical check-ups. Take a moment to show your girlfriends how much they mean to you by helping them stay safe and live well.

And no, this is not a sponsored post; I just love the information below from Oscar Health Insurance Company and wanted to help get the word out about doing something simple, yet meaningful, for the ones you love. Because you never know when a conversation like this could save a life!

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Will you celebrate National Girlfriends Day with your girlfriends?

Bright Idea: Summer Solstice Body-Weight Workout

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It’s almost the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere (2015’s sumer solstice falls on June 21) where 15+ hours will pass between sunrise and sunset in parts of the U.S. and Canada.

That sounds, to me, like a great excuse to soak up the abundance of daylight and celebrate the start of summer than with an outdoor workout.

Round up your friends and family, and hit the local lake or beach for an hour of body-weight work while the kiddos can play!

Photo via BrendelSignature at English Wikipedia

Photo via BrendelSignature at English Wikipedia

Hint: If you’re not familiar with some of the moves listed, simply Google the term along with the word “exercise,” and you’ll be able to find a description or video of it in action.

And, as always, remember to perform the moves at a steady pace and use proper form!

How are you taking advantage of sunny days this summer?