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It’s the season to be bombarded with guilt over healthy living and eating, while having break rooms full of sugary Christmas treats. This time of year can add a lot of stress, especially when we are trying to make good decisions for our health while still enjoying the annual joy that comes with the holiday season. A day of overeating like Thanksgiving or Christmas Day isn’t going to ruin your waistline, however, a whole month or two might make you notice that your pants are a bit tighter.

So how do we balance our cravings for sweets?

First of all, don’t wait until the New Year to go to the gym. There is no reason why fitness should only be our goal for one month of the year. Physical activity helps us burn the extra calories we may have been consuming, but staying active has a plethora of benefits such as: reduced risk of chronic disease, increased flexibility, improved mental health, increased balance, and increased chances of living longer. long time.

Physical activity guidelines recommend that adults participate in 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity. Moderate intensity means you are able to have a conversation with the friend you are walking with quickly. Try to break this down into 10 minute periods during the break at work. You may find that this is a much easier goal to achieve than you think.

It is important to include muscle building activities two or more days per week. While aerobic activity burns a lot of calories, increasing muscle mass will help you burn more calories while resting at home later in the evening. Don’t be intimidated by the big guys who lift weights at the gym – you can build muscle mass dramatically by using resistance bands or dumbbells.

If you’re like me, you exercise in good weather, and this starting winter is taking its toll on your motivation. Don’t let the cold keep you from moving. Be creative with your movement inside. Some ideas include: exercise videos, swimming in high school, walking the track at Wabash College or Crawfordsville Park and Rec, taking steps at work, using resistance bands during your favorite TV binge, yoga , ice / roller skate, dance at one of our local dance studios, or challenge a friend to see who can do the most squats, push-ups or crunches in a week.

Now that we are moving, we need to look at our diet as a way to control our weight. When you see the sugary treats in the office break room, remember that they will be there all week. So when you accept that you can eat one a day, you don’t have to eat them all at once. Really take the time to taste these treats. I’m as guilty as anyone of having a sweet tooth, but I really don’t like cakes, and for some reason when a cake pops up on the break table I have to eat it. So instead of letting your eyes eat, ask yourself “what is it that you really want to eat?” What aroma, appearance, taste, texture, temperature or fillability are you looking for? So if what I really want is ice cream, the cake is not going to satisfy my craving. Instead, I should treat myself to an ice cream cone and save those extra calories.

If you’re like me and get triggered by all the health messages this time of year. Join the new Purdue Extension Bite by Bite: Nutrition for Life podcast. This podcast covers the latest fads in diet and nutrition and cuts through the hype, explores the science behind diet and nutrition, and provides practical tips for incorporating healthy strategies into everyday life. You may recognize the voice of your local health educator which is breathtakingly helping. Connect and subscribe on Spotify, Breaker, Google Podcast, RadioPublic, and Anchor FM.

Monica Nagele is a Montgomery County Extension Educator and County Extension Manager, Health and Humanities. She is a registered dietitian. The extension office is at 400 Parke Ave., Crawfordsville; 765-364-6363. She can be reached by email at [email protected]