As the holidays shift into high gear, it is worth considering a few ways to stay healthy this holiday season, if only to mitigate the inevitable January weight-loss struggles. Winter months throughout human history have been a time of gathering, of celebration, of collectively bracing for the elements. Wars are often tacitly suspended during times of severe cold, and one or two have unofficially ended on account of inclement weather conditions.
Terms like “…fat and happy…” stem from eras in which a considerable quantity of body fat was a necessity in order that one might not succumb to merciless drops in temperature come winter. The phenomenon of thin, muscularly defined bodies as carrying more in the way of sociocultural currency than a heavier build is hardly unique to our time, but it is a departure from those long stretches of human history (based upon the region) in which hardy, stocky, fat-laden organisms were necessary for health and survival during long, relentless winters.
All of this to say that people, historically speaking, tend to pack on a pound or three during the fall/winter holiday season, and for reasons which have at various junctures within the human record been quite sensible. As it happens, we are not presently inhabiting any such juncture. Calories are abundant, readily accessible, and often times chemically organized in ways which seem intended to assail and overpower the human organism’s ability to effectively manage their intake.
Never has it been so easy for so many to become so overweight with so little effort, to put it frankly. The responsibility of one to oneself has now shifted from that of sheltering and feeding oneself and one’s family to that of sheltering and intelligently feeding oneself and one’s family.
Stay Healthy This Holiday Season
This task, simple though it may seem, is more challenging by several orders of magnitude during the holidays than during, say, the summer months. But it is no less important to consider ways to stay healthy this holiday season, a few of which are listed below.
#1: Exercise Daily: Between travel, professional obligations, familial responsibilities, shopping, et cetera, finding time for a bit of physical exertion is particularly difficult during the holiday season. It is also rarely more important. An inverse relationship seems to exist between caloric intake and exercise-fueled caloric burn during the November-December timeframe, as the former tends to skyrocket while the latter plummets aggressively.
The inversion wreaks havoc upon one’s organism, especially in those instances where the individual in question may not have been consistently active to begin with. A solid round of calorie-burning exercise needn’t be overly intrusive upon the schedule, as even a 15-minute calisthenics session is sufficient to maintain muscle tone, increase energy levels, and initiate one’s residual calorie burning rate. Couple this recommendation with the one to follow and leave this winter behind with a bit less guilt than might otherwise have been the case.
#2: …one fewer: There will not be a shortage of indulgent food options throughout the holiday season. Pastries, cookies, candies, and large meals which would be wildly out of place any other time of year will suddenly be well within arm’s reach, and very much in place for the time being. So, as the plight of the mortal is inherent mortality, enjoy a bit of it here and there. Egg nog, after all, is only stocked by grocers for a few weeks each year—so have a sip.
But hold yourself the “one fewer” rule during these days of festivity. Planning on two cookies? Make it one. Thinking of a third slice of pumpkin pie? Two is plenty, even on Thanksgiving. Considering a slice of fruit cake? Make it zero—fruit cake is bloody awful. The point being, one should hold oneself to a code of moderation during these trying times.
#3: Track: Own, rent, or borrow a scale. A daily assessment of one’s overall body mass will influence greatly your decision-making process, at least where dietary discretion is concerned. Furthermore, catching sight of a negative trend (upwards in weight, namely) in its infancy will allow for a more manageable implementation reversal measures.
So, then—in the interest of honesty, keep the pounds under close scrutiny, lest their increased presence become overwhelming. Besides, the scale is a far less hostile critic than one’s friends and colleagues might prove themselves to be. Less inclined to chuckle over the added weight.
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