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VA Maryland Health Care System


MOVE! Program Offers Fit Tips for Holiday Health

Man riding a bike.

Whether you walk, bike, dance, or swim, find activities you can do every day during the holiday season and throughout the year.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The national VA MOVE! Program's mission is to help Veterans lose weight, keep it off and improve their health through behavior change and education about nutrition and physical activity.  The program's emphasis is on health, wellness and positive lifestyle changes.  At the VA Maryland Health Care System, Kevin Grodnitzky, MS, RD, CDE, LDN, the Move! Weight Loss Program Coordinator, says the holidays don't have to derail people trying to make lifestyle changes for weight loss and health. These fit tips can help anyone navigate the pitfalls of holiday temptations and stay the course to health and wellness.  Veterans enrolled in the VA health care system who need to lose weight may want to consider signing up for a MOVE! Weight Loss Program Orientation class. Veterans enrolled in the VA Maryland Health Care System should call the Appointment Line at 1-800-463-6295, extension 7333, to sign up. 

Want to stay on track during the holidays without gaining unwanted weight?  Here are ten tips to keep fit and stay healthy during the holiday season! 

  1. Use the 50% rule.  Make half of your party plate fresh fruits and vegetables to help fill you up without filling you out!  Fruit platters and raw veggies also make great appetizers, so reach for them first instead of the chips and other high calorie snacks. 
  2. Don't use the holiday time as an excuse to overdo it.  One or two moderate indulgences per week are ok, but more can cause extra weight gain.  Pack your lunch and snacks for work and limit the office holiday cookies and candy.  These indulgences add up quickly! 
  3.  Bring a healthy dish to the party.  Going to a potluck holiday party?  Bringing a fruit or vegetable salad (or other low fat dish) ensures you have healthy alternatives to munch on.  
  4. Don't drink your calories.  Instead of sodas and other sweetened beverages, try sticking mostly with water and other zero calorie drinks during the holiday season.  
  5. Don't skip meals!  This can lead to overeating at holiday parties, which can sabotage weight loss goals.  Shoot for three meals per day with one or two small snacks per day.
  6. Keep alcohol in check.  Too much alcohol can pack on the pounds.  Plus, drinking may increase appetite, causing you to overeat.  At holiday parties, substituting alcohol with seltzer water and a splash of 100% fruit juice can serve as a healthful alternative.  
  7. Weigh yourself weekly.  Weighing yourself is one of the best ways to stay on track and monitor your weight status before your weight spirals out of control.  Many Americans gain weight during the holidays, so weighing yourself weekly is especially helpful during this treat-tempting time.
  8. Move your body!  Every time you move your body, you'll burn some fat, stay fit, and keep your weight in check!  Whether you walk, bike, dance, or swim, find activities you can do every day during the holiday season and throughout the year!  Remember, when starting an exercise program, start slow and build gradually, and check with your health care provider should you have medical concerns prior to increasing physical activity. 
  9. Enjoy your food!  Take time and enjoy every bite!  If you find yourself eating when distracted, eating quickly, eating on the go, and not eating mindfully, you may feel less satisfied with your eating experience, which may lead to overeating.  Take your time, enjoy your food, sit down while eating, and try to slow down some. 
  10. It's progress, not perfection!   Got off track during the holidays?  No problem!  One off meal doesn't matter in the big picture, so don't be hard on yourself!  Often, people may feel that they blew their diet from one over indulgence and wind up totally abandoning their goals.  If you get off track, make the next meal or snack a healthy one to stay on course in reaching your goals!


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