Enjoy the Feast: Go with the Flow

‘Tis the season to be frantic, frazzled and tempted by turkey - lots of turkey topped with gravy, cheese, and sour cream. The holidays are the time we eat more, not just because of delicious treats, but also due to stress. During this time of year, we tend to run to comfort food because it feels good. Common comfort foods such as mashed potatoes, turkey, hamburgers, cake, chocolate, ham, and candy yams are hard to resist. They usually have lots of calories, but they also warm our bellies and calm our emotions. And don't forget the wine, beer, and holiday liquor drinks. With all these high-calorie goodies around, you might worry about putting on a few pounds. Thankfully, the secret to having a stress-free holiday season is simple; don't worry about it. Go with the flow and just keep moving your body.

Mild fluctuation in diet and weight is normal and healthy. We're omnivores who thrive on a variety of food, so it's good to mix it up once in a while. Seasonal changes aren't permanent, and it’s normal to gain an extra five pounds during the winter months; but it’s nice to stay in balance and feel good about your body. The best way to keep fit is through movement and exercise. Even walking for ten minutes a day will help.

According to a controlled study on rats, exercise and movement with an unhealthy diet works better than no exercise with a healthy diet. A review in the Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (March 2011) states, "Exercise alone proves to be a much more effective and powerful intervention than diet alone.” Further, studies show that exercise and keeping the body moving actually suppresses appetite. According to the New York Times (How Exercise Can Help Us Eat Less, Gretchen Reynolds, Sept. 11, 2013), exercise triggers chemicals in the blood that lead to appetite suppression. Subjects consumed less food in a controlled setting, and they even experienced a decrease in appetite the following day.

Don’t stress if you do add five pounds or more. Just remember that these changes in diet over the holidays aren't a permanent change in your life. Enjoy the deliciousness of the holidays and keep moving your body. The holidays near the end of the year such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve are based on ancient rituals celebrating a bountiful harvest. Food and drink was consumed during the winter as a natural process of keeping the body warm and sustainable throughout colder seasons. Basically, the holidays are supposed to add on a few pounds, and it's been that way for thousands of years.

So relax this holiday season, and enjoy! An increase in holiday treats over a mere five weeks is only a temporary change, and regular exercise will offset any extra calories you end up with. Besides, you'll want to have a reason to increase your fitness level in 2014 with more Nia classes.

Nia and the Holidays:

  • Invite your family or friends to a Nia class near you
  • For family fun time, put on a Nia DVD and dance together to celebrate
  • Instead of Christmas carols, put on a NiaSounds CD and boogie while you cook

Fun Nia Moves to do while cooking:

Sweet 'n' Roll

Cook barefooted and rock forward onto the balls of your feet and backward onto your heels, feeling the entire length of your feet as you rock back and forth several times. Then rock side to side, feeling the inside and outside edges and the warm massage across the balls of your feet. Finally, tie the movements together, making broad, full circles, your feet pressing into the floor all around the edges and your hips circling fluidly above. Keep your knees soft, your hips loose, your spine fluid, and your shoulders relaxed.

Counter Tops

Standing tall at the kitchen counter, place your hands on top and press down as you soften your knees and with your weight in your left leg, reach out with your right toes first to 3:00, then 4:00, 5:00, and 6:00, reversing back through each hour to 3:00. Then shift your weight over your right leg and touch left to 9:00, 8:00, 7:00, 6:00 and back through to 9:00. Repeat the whole series, lifting your leg over each hour without touching the floor in between.