The Gift of Good Health

Tried and true suggestions for a happier and healthier new year.

IleneBy Ilene Raymond Rush

December 2010 — Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, the average American will gain seven to twelve pounds. To be honest, Hanukkah has just started wafting potato pancakes my way and I've already stashed on four extra turkey day pounds, as has my husband. But with his heart disease and my type 2 diabetes, what might seem like a benign souvenir of a delicious time may actually be a killer. And so, I have hauled myself to the gym and am closely watching my calorie and carb intake.

While no one fantasizes about the holidays as a prime time to lose weight, they can be a decent time to maintain. So in the spirit of maintenance, good glucose readings, and a new year without the dreaded lose-twenty-pounds-tomorrow resolution, I'm offering a gift: A few tried and true suggestions that have helped me drop 16 pounds in the past two years. Maybe, by following my own advice, we can all beat the odds and actually land happier and healthier in 2011. So, here goes:

1. Resolve. A question: If you had a china closet full of dishes and you broke a gravy boat, would you immediately walk over and start trashing the entire set? It's a question that comes into play when you think about holiday eating. The problem—as most of us know—isn't really one cookie, it's 14. Or 40. And the impact on your blood sugar, including your mood, is significant. So if you do give into a candy cane (or two), try not to rationalize yourself into a box of chocolate truffles. Resolve to enjoy the cane and climb a few stairs instead.

2. Schedule. The kitchen is officially closed. Put your kitchen on a schedule: After 8:00, the chef will retire for the evening and the staff goes home. So why are you still on duty? If night eating is your problem, this trick might help keep you from noshing the wee hours away. If you do end up playing night watchman, grab something very small and get out—quick! Breaking and entering has penalties.

3. Test. Take your sugars. Skipping sugars seems to me the easiest thing next to skipping a daily weigh in, which I also recommend. If you've "sinned" the night before, it's tempting to put off your readings. But if you're honest about your sugars, they can be your guide, letting you know when you fall off the wagon and need to self-correct. Of course we all know that there are occasional times when the sugars will be out of whack with your consumption, but in that case, rest on your laurels and search for other reasons—a change in exercise, mood, or stress levels.

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Last Modified Date: June 13, 2013

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