Bring it on - It's the season to be healthy

Once again the holiday season has arrived! Have no fear: It is still possible to enjoy the delicious meals without haunting leftovers bursting your belt buckle. In fact, by following several healthful tips you can actually lose weight over the holidays. Basically, if you monitor your eating method over the next several months you can shape and sculpt the most important holiday present of all, your health.

Eat five to six small meals a day

Your eating pattern is the most important factor in keeping the weight off this December. The key to a healthy diet is remembering to eat consistently. Instead of saving your ferocious appetite until Thanksgiving dinner, make sure you are ingesting small meals throughout the day. In so doing, you will not be famished once dinner time arrives. Thus, you will be less likely to over eat.

Most healthy individuals eat between five to six meals per day. By not eating all day you are essentially starving your body. As a result, when you finally eat that delicious turkey dinner your body actually stores the food for later. Unfortunately, when your body stores food it is often stored as lipids (fat). However, when you consistently ingest food throughout the day your body distributes the nutrients efficiently. In short, the consistent eating method actually deters your body from storing nutrients because your body recognizes that more food and nutrients are on their way.

Eight cups of water

The consistent eating method also applies to water. Water makes up approximately 60-70 percent of a person's total body weight. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the average person should drink between two to three liters of water, or eight cups of water per day to maintain this healthy percentage. Similar to foods, if you deprive yourself of water your body will retain fluids. However, by frequently drinking water your body automatically retains less, thus leaving you feeling and appearing thinner.

This year make a promise to your body. Rather then one or two meals per day, aim for five to six meals every three hours. In addition, remember to hydrate your body by drinking at least eight glasses of water per day. By following this consistent method you will keep your body well fueled and properly hydrated. Importantly, make sure each one of those five to six meals includes carbohydrates, protein and fat.

Remember, your body is similar to a machine. In order for a machine to run efficiently it needs the correct mixture of oil and gasoline. Likewise, your body needs the proper mixture of micronutrients to burn energy properly. If you are deficient in one macronutrient your body cannot burn calories as efficiently.

Portion control

Now that we have established the correct eating and hydration method for this holiday season, it is also important to review healthy food options. Portion control is crucial to maintaining a healthy diet. Luckily, there are a few simple guidelines to follow to ensure that you are eating the right portion sizes, even if everything tastes delicious. Gordon Wardlaw, the author of "Contemporary Nutrition, Issues and Insight," proposes a simple model to control your intake. By using common household items such as a golf ball, tennis ball, yo-yo, computer mouse, baseball and your own fist, you can actually monitor your caloric intake. I know you can visualize what these objects look like, so you do not have an excuse.

Golf ball = 2 tbsp. salad dressing, peanut butter, margarine, etc.

Tennis ball = medium/small fruit.

Yo-yo = 1 standard bagel.

Computer mouse = 1/2 to 3/4 cup baked potato.

Baseball = large fruit.

Fist =1 cup ready-to-eat breakfast cereal.

During each meal, when you go to select your food, pay close attention to your plate and ensure that your portions match up to these objects. I know it seems like a small amount of food. However, remember that you will be eating 5 to 6 times per day, not simply once or twice. To ensure that you do not reach a state of starvation, make sure your first meal of the day is in the morning starting with breakfast, then you should be eat every two to four hours subsequently.

Okay, so pretty simple right? Well, the exercise part is even easier. Here are a few exercises that you should do every other morning. They target your large and some small muscle groups. Remember, the larger the muscles you work, the more calories you will burn. Muscle is an active tissue; therefore, muscle fibers are consistently burning calories just to maintain their strength.

The following exercises can be executed anywhere:

Push-ups (chest, triceps, shoulders): These can be regular push-ups or on your knee push-up. Just do what you can. This might be 3 sets of 10 or 10 sets of 10.

Dips (triceps, the back of your arms): These can be done off of a coffee table or chair. If you want to make them easier, bend your legs, placing your feet closer to your body. The straighter your legs the harder it will be. Make sure you are trying for a 90 degree angle at your elbow when you dip down.

Lunges (quadriceps, butt): These can be difficult but as long as they do not hurt your knees they are worth the pain. Beginners: take a step forward, keep your foot there while you go up and down to a kneeling position and back up, repeating 12 to 15 times before switching legs. Intermediate: push with your front foot back to the starting position every time. Reverse lunge: you are stepping backwards, or you can even put your back leg up on a chair and just drop down with the front keeping your leg up in the back,

You should be able to perform between two-three sets of 12-15 reps of each and be finished in 20 minutes. However, don't forget to warm up and stretch afterwards.

So are you ready? Don't let those holiday treats get the best of you this year, plan ahead! Know your portion sizes before you sit down at the dinner table, and always schedule time for a quick workout. By adhering to a simple exercise routine and a consistent eating method the holiday season will pass and your clothes will still fit. Now, you will really have something to be jolly about. BRING IT ON!

Wendy Leigh Grosvenor (The Trainer Girl) is a Kirkland-based personal trainer and is ACSM certified. She can be reached at (206) 963-3203, or[[In-content Ad]]