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Friday, April 6, 2012

5 Tips to Enjoy a Guilt-Free Easter or Passover

It’s April now and the food-related horror that was the holidays is but a distant memory.  Or is it?  My friend Lynn and I were talking about current fitness “hot topics” today and we decided that as there are so many relevant and important things to talk about, we should to narrow it down a bit. That’s when Lynn said “what about the holidays?”  “What about them? I asked, they’re nine months away.” “Not those holidays, the one this weekend!” she said.  “What can we do to minimize the damage so to speak?”  Here are five things that help:
·        Realize it’s just one day-or two, or three.  If you over-indulge, don’t throw in the towel and then say “aw, it doesn’t matter, I ruined everything
anyway.”  No, you didn’t.  That’s an excuse. You have to get back on track immediately.  That doesn’t mean it’s OK to toss aside all your good habits and just go for it, it means that if, in spite of your best efforts, things go awry, it’s important to get back on track as quickly as possible.
  •             It always comes down to carbs doesn’t it?  While a half cup of starchy carb or the equivalent is actually fine, I don’t have to tell you how tough it can be to keep it to that amount.  But remember how tired, sluggish, bloated and disappointed with yourself you’ll feel if you follow your loaf of bread or mound of matzo with a mountain of mashed potatoes or a trough of corn.  Add beer or wine and dessert to that and well, you’re in for a world of hurt.  As my colleague Jade Teta recommends, keep track of your carbohydrates in terms of bites.  The number of bites of starchy carbohydrate you’re allowed depends on a number of factors.  Read all about it in his excellent book The New ME Diet by Dr. Jade Teta.  Check it out along with the other terrific books I recommend on my website.
  •            They say a wedding is a “good” stress.  Is there really such a thing as “good stress?”  Actually, yes there is, it’s called motivation.  But it is still a stress as far as the body is concerned-it doesn’t know the difference.  I hear people say “I work hard and I play hard.” Not good. Working hard is stress enough.  I don’t know about you but when I think of “playing hard,” I think of alcohol, late nights, risky behavior.  Relaxation, just in case you’ve forgotten what it is, is defined as relief from bodily or mental work, effort, application, etc.  Even if you’re not a college student, even if it’s just a day, use your spring break to get some real relaxation.  Let your body rest.   You’ll bring down your stress hormones, which will discourage the deposition of fat around the mid-section, and you’ll relate better to your friends and family that you likely have missed more than you realized.  Pay attention to your body’s response to moving slowly-to not having to be anywhere or do anything.  It really is something to take seriously. Being social and relating to others is an important part of being human and these days, it’s   easy to become isolated.  Make the effort to really enjoy your friends and family.  Any of us could be gone tomorrow.  As they say…do you want your epitaph to say “here lays Jini, she worked so much we forgot we ever knew her?”
  •             My father was in the restaurant business so needless to say, I became a food snob very early on.  By the time I was a teen, if it wasn’t a homemade dessert, I wasn’t interested.  In spite of the snobbery, I discovered a Passover treat that I couldn’t live without and have been buying ever since.  Manischewitz macaroons.  So pedestrian yet so good. I still love the sound the pull top makes when it’s pulled off the aluminum can. I could go on but I’ll get a hold of myself.  It’s no secret; I love sweets.  But I’m happy to say I’ve really gotten my sweet tooth under control.  One way I managed to kick the sugar habit is with the three bite rule.  I credit my friend JJ Virgin with this gem.  JJ says “if you REALLY can’t live without it, take 3 polite bites and be done with it.”  This is a great tip!  There’s no feeling of deprivation because you’re getting to taste your favorite dessert (three times) while doing little to no damage to your eating plan.  Try this one this weekend.
  •             Anyone that’s worked with me or follows what I do knows that I don’t believe long duration, moderate intensity cardiovascular activity.  It’s burst training or nothing as far as I’m concerned.  Wait.  That isn’t entirely true.  Any physical activity is better than nothing.  That’s one of the reasons I advocate walking.  Not for fitness, not for weight loss (as it will not get you fit or thin), but because we are becoming a society of active coach potatoes meaning we work out every day, and then the rest of our day is spent sitting.  If there are 24 hours in a day that leaves 16 waking hours minus 1 ½ hours for working out plus driving time, subtract another hour for walking to and from your bedroom to your bathroom, from the house to the car, etc. (what we call ambient activity-and I’m being generous there), that still leaves over 13 hours a day that many of us are spending sitting!  We have to change this. becoming a disease.  Take a nice long walk after your holiday meal and once again, you’ll be lowering stress hormones and you’ll also help digest your food better, stay alert and be less likely to get sleepy after that big meal, and it’s a terrific way to spend some time together with family and/or friends. Make it a holiday tradition.  I started doing this one Thanksgiving and now I never miss, I really enjoy it.
Spring break holidays don’t have to mean an end to all the healthy habits you’ve acquired since New Years day. Think of these tips as a prelude to bikini season.

Happy Easter and Happy Passover.

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Fitness expert and integrative performance coach Jini Cicero, CSCS, teaches intermediate exercisers how to blast through plateaus to create incredible transformations. Are you ready to take your fitness to a whole new level?  Find out now!  Take Jini's "Are you Ready?" Quiz at © 2011 Jinifit, Inc.

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