Health and Fitness

Local Health/Exercise Experts Suggest  Being Proactive in Keeping Balanced this Holiday

Nutritionist, Yogi and Trainer Weigh in on Mental and Physical Fitness During the Holiday Season.
By JON COEN | Nov 21, 2018
File Photo by: Ryan Johnson

It may seem a distant memory, but think back to those stellar LBI summer days. Think back to when you woke up early for the sunrise. You took a jog on the beach, maybe a yoga class, or went for a surf. Then you popped into your favorite morning spot for a nice breakfast – fresh summer fruits, a wheatgrass shot, pressed juice or whole grain avocado toast with microgreens. As the sun rose in the sky, you had a healthy sweat. You went to the beach or out on the boat, playing in the waves, swimming in the bay, exerting energy and sucking up the Vitamin D. Dinner was fish, maybe from our local waters, and Jersey-fresh produce. You had energy and you looked good.

More importantly, you felt good.

Now fast forward to this weekend. There will be half of a pumpkin pie in the fridge Friday morning. And that’s sort of healthy, right? Pumpkin is a vegetable. So you have two pieces with breakfast and another two after lunch. Why should dessert be restricted to dinner?

And it’s busy. Black Friday. Small Biz Saturday. Cyber Monday. Shopping, wrapping, planning, baking, preparing… there will be no time for jogging, spin or yoga.

But there are chocolates everywhere. And seven parties in the next month with wine, beer and Bailey’s Irish Cream. Oh, vodka, hello.

And before you know it, that toned physique we had in August is now a doughy mess on the couch watching the Fiesta Bowl, the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl with Taco Bell, a glass of rosé and a plate of sugar cookies.

But that doesn’t have to happen. You can still enjoy the holidays without feeling like an inflated character in the Macy’s Day Parade.

“It takes two weeks to develop good habits,” said Kevin Corey, who owns the Yoga Hive in Manahawkin with his wife, Jenn. “It takes two seconds to break them. We’re so busy prepping, but the most important thing to prep is yourself. This time of year is when that gets overlooked. You’re the most important course.”

When we gorge ourselves for several days, our blood sugar changes, altering our entire bodies. But the answer isn’t just denying yourself fun or good food through the holidays. It’s supposed to be a time of enjoyment, after all.

Local yogis, trainers and nutritionists all say the same thing – being healthy through the holidays is about being mindful and making the choices ahead of time.

“It’s OK to eat and enjoy the holidays,” added Carolyn Crane, owner of Pyour Core, which offers Ryde classes, aerial yoga, barre, halo, mat training, pilates, nutritional training, and chiropractic care, as well as the health-forward Pyour Pour café, all in Surf City. “It’s great to have that day and eat whatever you want. But you can’t make that an everyday practice through the whole season. So many people just lose that sense of balance, and then they say, ‘I’ll just wait until Jan. 1.’ It’s so easy to start a holiday with a cheese plate, drink a bottle of wine, and before you know it, you’re inhaling a pound of stuffing.”

It’s all about planning.

“You have to build the exercising into your schedule,” offered Linda Meade, the head trainer at Pyour Core. “Make that class before your holiday party or shopping. Make it a priority instead of making excuses.”

The holidays are about tradition, so it’s important to make healthful activities part of those holiday traditions – like a family football game, a hike instead of rushing the box stores on Friday, or maybe getting a group together for a holiday-themed 5K.

“Instead of jumping out to those Black Friday sales, jump on a mat for 15 or 30 minutes of breathing or stretching. Release that tension,” said Corey.

“Just get the family moving. Plan a walk on the beach or through the woods before or after dinner with the dogs,” Crane suggested.

Crane said many folks forgo their exercise routine because they’re traveling for the holiday.

“Always bring a pair of running shoes and have a Flex Band in your luggage. They don’t take up any room.”

All of these professionals across the board mentioned that stress tends to be a factor for bad decisions around the holidays. Many people get themselves fried over all that has to be done. Stress is a factor of blood sugar level and can cause us to overeat or skip exercise.

“You have to take the time for yourself,” insisted Corey. “Be thankful, because that’s what these holidays are about, but be mindful in your intention.

“A holiday can be really stressful. People get unhealthy because they let it get to them and keep eating. Exercise is so important to relieve that stress.”

There are certainly simple ways to approach balance this holiday season. Crane and Meade suggested drinking a glass of water before a big meal, eating healthful food before attending a party, and filling your plate with vegetables before starches to cut back on binging. Corey mentioned the new Forsythe Trail open on Bonnet Island as a great local hike between festivities.

Jessica Cahill, Pyour Core’s dietician-nutritionist also added, “Remember that calories from alcohol can add up quickly and often double your daily intake when combined with food. Also, when we’re feeling tipsy, we tend to make worse decisions about what to eat. Bring a light, healthy dish to potluck parties so you know there is a good option for you to pick on.”

Pyour Core has a Reboot program (Crane prefers this term to “cleanse”) that lets the body and mind start fresh. She said that right after Thanksgiving and between Christmas and New Year’s are perfect times to reboot.

“It’s like putting a stop to the madness,” she explained. “It helps to stop the cravings, eat responsibly and break bad habits.”

The Yoga Hive will have a Vegetarian Potluck Dinner on Dec. 15 that is free and open to anyone.

“It’s the holidays. It’s cool to eat and drink whatever you want. But you have to examine that effect on your life,” Corey said. “It’s a joyous time, but be mindful and compassionate. Open your arms and open your doors to people.”

— Jon Coen

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