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OCH officials offer simple solutions for holiday health

December 24, 2012

Charles Lowery works on his upper-body strength at OCH Regional Medical Center’s Wellness Center. OCH health officials call for reasonable, simplistic approaches for individuals entering into a new diet or exercise regimen after the holidays. (Photo by Matt Crane, SDN)

As the holiday season continues to roll along through the new year, Starkville residents may find themselves looking for tips to begin or maintain healthy eating and exercise habits. 

OCH Wellness Connection Director Eddie Myles said he called this time of year the “hibernation months” when the weather is much cooler and people are less inclined to get out and exercise. 

“During this time, people are usually doing less moving and more eating,” he said. “Simple exercises like marching or jogging in place at home for 10 minutes can help keep some weight off during the holidays or at least maintain physical activity until the warmer weather gets here.”

Myles said for those not already dedicated to a consistent exercise routine, simple workouts are essential in starting down the road to a healthier lifestyle. 

“There’s nothing new under the sun, so I don’t recommend people to go out and buy unique equipment when you can use things right at home,” he said. “Keeping up with a cardiovascular routine, using modification of push-ups and even substituting a loaded back pack as kettle balls can help. People forget about strength training, but the more muscle you have, the more calories you can burn.”

Once an exercise routine is started, Myles said he suggests clients to keep track of their progress on paper. 

“When I make a change, I want to write it down to see how long it took to get better because it fosters motivation when we see those results,” he said. “If you can keep things simple and see those results, imagine what you can start doing after that.”

When it comes to the nutritional aspect of the season, OCH Nutritionist Kelly White said controlling portions while attending holiday parties can help maintain healthy choices for individuals. 

“If you’re going to a party this season, decide before you go that you’re only going to fix one plate,” she said. “People should try and avoid going back for seconds and grazing, but if they do, try to eat something lower in calories like vegetables.”

White said partygoers should also watch their intake of alcohol. 
“If you drink alcohol, it can make you eat more or at least become less aware about how much you are eating,” she said. “Alcohol as calories in itself and its mixers. A tip for this season is to drink things that are calorie free.”

With weight loss among the most popular New Year’s resolutions, White said residents looking to shed some pounds in 2013 should make reasonable goals. 

“Don’t create strict plans because if you fall off, you’re likely to look at yourself as a failure and go back to some of those bad eating habits,” she said. “It’s about creating a more balanced diet and balancing that throughout the day.”

White said setting these attainable goals and creating new habits one at a time will allow for an easier transition into maintaining a healthier lifestyle.

“Pick one or two goals at a time for your nutrition — it takes 21 days to create a new habit and once you reach it, go to a new one,” she said. “Setting these realistic goals makes it more achievable.”

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