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Holiday Damage Control

Holiday Damage Control

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    Fat season.  That’s what we call it around my office.  It starts on Halloween, and it usually runs straight through January.  We are bombarded by holidays that require us to consume copious amounts of meats, pies, cookies, chocolates, and alcohol.  On top of that, for those of us living in the north, it gets dreadfully cold and painfully hard to do as much moving around as we would like to.  It is due to these conditions that it is not unlikely for an individual to gain between 5 – 10 lbs within this 3 month period.  And with that I would like to share some of my favorite tips for when it comes to coping with the inevitable “fat season”.

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    At the Office

    Avoiding temptation at the office can be tricky.  There always seems to be extra bags of candy, and extra baskets of cookies strategically placed around your work area.  If your goal is weight loss, maintaining a steady doping of sugar into your blood stream is not going to make your efforts any easier.  

    If you can avoid the sweets, then good for you, you’re stronger than most.  However I don’t feel it’s absolutely necessary to be that guy/girl in the office who wants to avoid the break room at all costs.  You could be setting yourself up for even worse disasters, especially if you’re one who tends to get more stressed around the holiday season.  If I had to pick between what’s worse for your health: a couple of cookies or being the stressed out sociopath who avoids people at all costs fearing they might shove brownies in their face, I would have to go with the latter.  Stress is going to create much stronger repercussions than a few sweets will any day.  

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    If you’re busy around this time of the year like I am, it will be hard to get normal workouts in.  The key is to make them brief, frequent and consistent.  Get good at the exercises that stress your entire body i.e. squats and deadlifts.  Doing a couple of sets will only take you 15 minutes and it’s much better than doing nothing at all right?

    Take it to the Party

    More often than not you’ll probably encounter a party or two this time of year.  Parties are another good place to find lots of fattening foods.  If you find yourself at one of these parties, my advice is to you would be to seek out the vegetable platter.  There is always one somewhere and rarely has it ever been touched.  Filling up first on fruits and vegetables is a good way to pack a little fiber into the stomach before consuming those delicious and fatty finger foods.  The fiber will not only help to fill you up, but it also soaks up some of the fat like a sponge preventing it from ever getting to those love handles.  

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    As far as alcohol is concerned, try to be mindful of what types of mixtures you’ll be having.  Sure, alcohol itself packs calories, but combine it with sugary tonic water or coke and it becomes a real diet killer.  As an alternative, try soda water for a less calorie dense beverage.  Since it’s a party, keep yourself mobile.  Move around, dance and mingle.  After all, that’s what the party is for.  You’re not going to burn a heck of a lot of calories, but it’s much better than being a calorie-consuming wall flower.

    Around this time of year being uptight about your diet and weight is only going to cause you more trouble than it’s worth.  Beating yourself up over a couple pieces of pie or a few extra drinks during the week isn’t going to help your efforts in the long run.  The best piece of advice I can give to you is to relax and try to make a few smart choices here and there.

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    Last Updated on May 22, 2019

    10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

    10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

    There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

    One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

    In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

    Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

    1. Cat Camel Stretch

    Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

    Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

    Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

    Here’s a video to guide you through:

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    2. Go for a Walk or a Run

    This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

    Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

    The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

    Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

    Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

    3. Jumping Jacks

    Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

    Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

    4. Abductor Side Lifts

    Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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    Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

    5. Balancing Table Pose

    This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

    Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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      6. Leg Squats

      Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

      Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

      The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

      7. Push Ups

      You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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      An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

      Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

      This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

      8. Bicycle Crunches

      There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

      Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

      9. Lunges

      Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

      Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

      This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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      10. Bicep Curls

      You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

      Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

      Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

      Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

      Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

      These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

      You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

      Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

      More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

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