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foodpusherYou walk into the annual holiday party with a plan in place. You will stick to the veggie tray, pick one special dessert and have only one drink. You’ll stay away from the food table and enjoy the conversation instead of the sugar. You’ve got this. You aren’t going to fall victim to the holidays again this year.

If only it were that easy. The second you walk in the door Auntie Mae puts her famous pecan pie right under your nose and begs you to have a piece because she made it “just for you.”

You fill your tray up high with veggies. Your brother takes one look before loudly exclaiming “That’s all you’re eating? Are you on a diet or something?” causing everyone to turn and stare at your plate…and in your mind, your weight.

Your friend brings you a shot and a huge plate of cookies and says, “Come on, it’s a holiday! That means cheat day!”

You might think they have the best intentions and just want you to be happy, and in Auntie Mae’s case, you are probably right, but some of them don’t. And that’s OK, it’s only natural and you are probably guilty of it in some way or another yourself. Some people don’t like to see others succeed, because it makes them look at themselves. Perhaps your friend wants a partner in crime so she doesn’t feel so guilty standing next to you with your plate of veggies when hers is piled with fudge.

Don’t give in to the food pushers. Don’t let guilt lead you into making a decision you know you shouldn’t make. Where does it leave you? With more guilt. Politely extricating yourself from situations where food pushers, good intentioned or otherwise, lurk is almost an art, and your strategy may change based on who’s pushin’.

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The above infographic pretty much took the words right out of my mouth. Check out those numbers! AND those are for correct serving sizes- you know no one follows those, especially not on Turkey Day, where your plate is so overflowing that the dog gains weight just by following you around with his mouth wide open. You can see just how much exercise it takes to burn off each thing you put on your plate.

Knowledge is power. The least you can do is stick to proper serving sizes so you know exactly what the damage is. From there, a few simple changes can lighten it up even further.

Let’s start at the top:

Serving: 6 ounces for 340 calories
What it looks like: a deck of cards
Lighten it up: White meat has less saturated fat, but dark meat isn’t necessarily terrible for you. It actually contains vitamins A, K, B6, B12, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, minerals as selenium, phosphorus and zinc than white meat. To avoid unnecessary fat and calories, just skip the skin. If you are cooking, don’t deep fry- you’re soaking it in extra fat and the oven will save you a call to the fire department.

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Let’s take a moment to be grateful for what we have.

It is important to remind yourself of what is truly important to fully appreciate everything that you have. When you take away everything that can be taken away – the material, the money, the gadgets- when it really comes down to it, the only thing that you truly have is your health. Without, you have nothing.

We are pretty terrible to ourselves. We spend so much time doing terrible things to our health, filling our bodies with junk food, chemicals, smoke, alcohol, and defeating thoughts, blaming our bodies or the way they function for why we don’t feel good about ourselves. Your body is fine. It does exactly what you ask of it. It’s your mind that needs your focus.

We spend so much time putting our bodies down, mostly for the way they look and often for the way they perform. It’s unfair. We’ve all only got one body and they do amazing things for us every second of the day in spite of how much time we spend putting it down.

In this happy holiday season where we make an effort to show gratitude for the things we hold dear, take some time today, and learn to take some time every day, to thank your body and your health for everything it does for you. It’s all you have.

Be thankful for your legs, fast or slow, they get you exactly where you need to go.

Be thankful for your arms, jiggly or firm, they can wrap around your loved ones to show them how much they mean to you- including yourself.

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Sometimes it takes getting back to the basics for something to really make sense.

You hear from fitness pros all the time that you need to “make exercise a lifelong habit.” And doesn’t that sound wonderful? One day, you wake up naturally at 5:00 am, and before you know it your shoes are tied and you are at class ready to sweat. You have little to no memory of how you got there – you just did it. Instinctively. Like covering your mouth when you sneeze. It has become a habit just like your foot hitting the brake when you see a red light.

But, does anyone really do this? How can something as complicated and broad as working out become a habit? And how long until it (finally!) happens for you?

Let’s look a little deeper into what a habit actually is and how you can use this knowledge to make sure exercise becomes second nature.

What is a habit?

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines habits as:

1. an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary
2. the prevailing disposition or character of a person’s thoughts and feelings
3. a settled tendency or usual manner of behavior
4. a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance

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We are right at the cusp of everyone’s favorite and simultaneously most feared time of year: the holidays.

While it’s a happy time that most look forward to, it is also full of stress, distraction and temptation. Everywhere you look, for the next 3 months, there will be nothing but parties, drinking, baked goods and junk as far as the eye can see.

These distractions are usually enough to cause most people to throw their workouts out the window, eat whatever is in arm’s reach (Half a candy cane you found in your purse? You know you’ve done it) and plan to pick things back up in the New Year. Well, this thinking, my friends, is what has kept your new Year’s resolution “to lose weight” the same for years. You can, however, come out of the holiday season still able to fit into pants without an elastic waistband. You can easily say no to tempting goodies and food pushers while still managing to keep a consistent exercise routine AND enjoy all the holidays have to offer. How? With a little planning, a lot of resolve and few simple tips:

Take time to relax. It’s the holidays, so enjoy yourself! Stress is harmful to your health, so be sure to find ways to unwind (exercise is great for that, by the way.)

Learn to say no. You will be invited to a million functions, parties and get togethers. Each one, without fail, will be fraught with poor choices waiting to be chosen. Don’t feel like you have to say yes to each one. Prioritize your nights to avoid overextending yourself and spending too many late nights drinking and eating, and too many mornings hitting the snooze button.

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You can’t get away from pumpkins this time of year, from jack-o-lanterns to pies to cookies and lattes. But have you ever tried eating one? I mean honest to goodness, just baking one up and eating it? If not, you’re missing out on not only one of the most delicious ways to enjoy this gourd, but the healthiest.

Most pumpkin-flavored edibles this time of year fall more into the dessert category than a healthy vegetable side dish. But just like squash, the flesh of a pumpkin is very sweet and knocks quite nutrition punch. One cup of pumpkin contains only 49 calories, 3g of fiber, 2g protein, a shocking 245% of your daily recommended value of Vitamin A and 19% of the Vitamin C and 8% of the iron you need in a day. The medium decorative pumpkins, almost too small to carve, but the right size to draw on, bake up the best. Here’s how:

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They say there is no goal too big, but you can definitely have a goal that is too broad- and most people do. If your goal isn’t correctly developed  you are setting yourself up for failure before you’ve even begun. Remember all the “I’m going to lose weight this year” New Years Resolutions? There’s a reason you have the same one each year. Goals are meant to motivate, inspire, hold you accountable and track progress. Not all goals do, however, just the S.M.A.R.T. ones.
Say your goal is to lose 50 pounds. That’s great, and while this is an admirable goal, it’s not a very S.M.A.R.T goal. A S.M.A.R.T. goal is something you want to achieve, and you have a plan of attack to get there. Is your goal S.M.A.R.T.? Put it to the test:
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Words are powerful. Mantras can be a powerful tool to focus your energy, your efforts and your thoughts into pushing beyond what you sometimes tell yourself are your limits. Committing to a healthy lifestyle is easy, but sticking to it is a true test of your inner resolve. Motivation wanes; it’s the nature of the beast. It can easy to forget what all this hard work is for when you want what’s in front of your face right that second. Sometimes, you’d rather hit the snooze button than workout. Sometimes, that drive-thru calls to you louder than the healthy dinner you already had planned. Sometimes you Just. Don’t. Feel. Like. It.
My mantra? “Do the next right thing.” It works for everything, and puts me in a positive mind frame to move forward instead of dwelling on a past decision. It doesn’t foster feelings of guilt. It acknowledges that something happened, good or bad, and encourages me to move forward in a positive way.  How do you handle any situation? By doing the next right thing.
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Not everyone is a morning person. No shame in that. But if early morning is the only time you have to workout, you gotta make it happen. Repetition is key to forming a new habit, so if you wake up on the first morning and don’t feel like getting up, that’s not license to go back to bed because it didn’t work. No one springs from bed at the crack of dawn, fresh as a daisy, ready to get sweaty. Yet, millions of people do it everyday. Here’s how you can be one of those people.

  • Go to bed at the same time each night, and wake up at the same time each morning, even if it is not a workout day. Adults need 6-8 hours of sleep a night, so plan accordingly. This is the best way to reset your internal clock in the least amount of time.
  • Set an alarm. That’s a no brainer. But if you are a habitual snooze button hitter, turn it on loud and put it on the other side of the room so you have to actually get up to turn it off. If you are out of bed you are less likely to crawl back in. There are also some smartphone apps that make you solve a math problem before it will turn off so can’t turn it off in a sleepy haze. Anyone that shares your bed is just going to have to deal.
  • Turn the lights on. If you are waking up before dawn, you may be tempted to keep the lighting low, but turning on the lights will wake you up faster than a cup of coffee.

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Nutrition labels are meant to give you all the information you need to make an informed decision on the nutritional quality of your food. The nutrition facts labels are regulated by the government, and are unbending in their honesty. The labeling on the front, however, isn’t so strict, and can be manipulated to make you think the food is healthier than it actually is. Marketing: it’s tricky, and it works- unless you are an informed consumer. Here’s what you need to know about label buzzwords:

Fat-Free: In order to call a food item “fat free” it needs to have less than 0.5 grams of fat per labeled serving. First off, fat isn’t terrible, you need it, it just needs to be watched, so picking fat free over a full fat option isn’t automatically necessary. It’s also a huge marketing ploy. Perfect example? Candy. Skittles, Lemonheads and most non-chocolate candy emblazon FAT FREE FOOD! across the front of their labels. It’s true, they are low enough in fat to call themselves fat free, but candy is hardly a healthy food choice. There’s no fat in cement either- doesn’t mean you should eat it.

All-natural: All natural means basically nothing. Natural is a term that sounds healthy, so it’s used to make things sound more pure, rustic and whole, but in truth, it means very little. According to the USDA, food can only be labeled natural if it contains no artificial ingredients, added colors and is minimally processed. Vague, vague, vague. Don’t rest on the All-Natural label alone.

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