TIPS FOR SURVIVING THE HOLIDAYS #490 12/14/11
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10 Ways to Ward Off Excess Holiday Pounds

By Elena Sessa

Do you find that the scale moves up a few pounds during this time of the year? During summertime, we're focused on our bodies, given we know we'll be wearing the revealing clothing that goes with that season, but when fall and winter come around, that mindset falls away like autumn leaves. Maybe it's our primitive instinct to bulk up when the weather gets colder; it probably also has a lot to do with our busy holiday shopping and social schedules interfering with our regular workouts, and with all the tasty holiday treats lying in wait to tempt us everywhere we turn, regardless. But don't let the layers of clothing become layers of fat. Follow these tips to stay healthier and fitter this holiday season.

Scale and a Christmas Hat with Measuring Tape

  1. Travel smart. Many people find themselves traveling during the holiday season, but that's not an excuse to eat unhealthily and avoid exercise. Plan your meals in advance, and pack snacks when you are either on the road or in the air. Good travel snacks can include nuts or dried fruit. To help you be a happier traveler, get a good night sleep before you leave to increase your mood and alertness. Eating a heavy meal before traveling can make you sleepy, so eat a small, low-fat meal before you head out the door.
  2. ZZZZZZZ. Try to keep a regular sleep schedule and get a full night's rest as often as you can. If you fail to get a good night sleep, it can affect your immune system and make you grumpy the next day. No one wants to travel with a grouchy person, so do everyone a favor and get some shut eye. Sleeping well can also help you reduce your calorie consumption, because it inhibits the release of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin while promoting the release of leptin, another hormone that limits hunger. And keeping that hunger in check is a good idea when you find yourself surrounded by holiday goodies.
  3. Man Drinking WaterHydration station. Staying hydrated is important in our daily life and becomes even more important when you're stressed, as can so often happen during the busy holiday season. Stress can have a negative effect on your immune system. Drinking plenty of water can help by flushing toxins out of your body. For that very reason, choosing water instead of holiday beverages like eggnog and hot spiced cider is especially important, even though it can be challenging.
  4. Caution with cocktails. With the holidays comes the drinking of alcohol, so make sure you have at least one glass of water in between each drink. Remember that one gram of alcohol contains seven calories, and yet it yields virtually no energy or health benefits. Calories from alcohol can add up quickly, so be mindful of how much you are drinking. If you do indulge in eggnog, which is super-high in calories in its traditional form, try making it with fat-free half-and-half substitute mixed with fat-free milk, and ditch the egg yolks for egg whites. Also, drinking may reduce inhibitions under the mistletoe, which is good, but it also reduces inhibition at the dessert buffet, which is bad.
  5. VeggiesFighting temptation. The holidays are filled with temptation, and it's your job to stop it in its tracks. Holiday parties can be troublesome with the surplus of fatty foods and beverages. You might be unaware of how much you are consuming and might eat because it is there, rather than eating because you are actually hungry. Eat a healthy meal before you go out, so you're less tempted to munch on empty calories. Be aware of what you are putting into your body, whether it's cocktails or shrimp cocktails. The office can also be a place where temptation lurks. Try to avoid going into the break room and grabbing those cakes, cookies, and other holiday dishes and treats people leave lying around at this time of year. Be the first in your office to bring in a fruit or veggie platter or other healthy choice to share. And if you are having a chocolate craving that just won't go away, throw a banana in the blender with some Chocolate Shakeology®, nonfat milk, and ice, and you'll be back on track.
  6. 'Tis the season for lots of television. Holiday movies, shows, and sporting events are in abundance during this time of the year. While you're watching TV, make time during commercials to do some exercises that do not require any equipment. Remember some of the exercises you do from P90X® or any other Beachbody® workout program? Good. Apply those techniques and do some of those routines during the commercial breaks. Other options can range from standing up during some of the program to sitting on a stability ball (which uses more muscles than just sitting down on the couch) to doing jumping jacks, lunges, or ab work and beyond. Be creative and fight the flab that can come with being a couch potato.
  7. FruitMake recipes healthier. Most recipes can be made healthier without compromising the recipe. Think more whole grains—and less sugar, fats, and salt—while cooking, and make sure that there are mostly healthy dishes to outweigh the naughty ones. Use the half plate rule—half of your plate should be filled with veggies or fruit. Healthy food that's good to incorporate into your meals includes: white meat turkey (limit the gravy), sweet potatoes, cranberries, pomegranates, pumpkin, pecans, collard greens (limit the fat), nutmeg, cinnamon, and red wine. These items can spice up any meal while making it healthier and more delicious. Please don't fall into the mentality trap of thinking that if you exercise, that allows you to eat whatever you want. Try nutritious new recipes and be both creative and healthy with your culinary experiences. An example, you ask? How about two? Scroll down to see two holiday treats: Gingerbread Man Shakeology and Apple-Raisin Coffee Cake.
  8. Out of sight, out of mind. When food is placed on the dining table, it's much easier to grab a second helping. So make it harder: Keep the extra food away from the dining room. If you leave it in the kitchen, out of sight, it forces everyone to think about getting up to grab another helping. Here's a tip: If you still feel hungry after your first plate, wait for 15 minutes and drink a full glass of water, then decide whether you want more food.
  9. Dried FruitEat smaller amounts more often. Instead of starving yourself all day so you can overindulge in that one, giant meal, have smaller meals throughout the day. I know that at family holiday gatherings in particular, it's asking too much to resist the lavish aromas of the kitchen, so limiting your portion sizes is important. Have a little bit of everything while preparing the meal throughout the day, then eat a sensibly sized portion when dinner rolls around. If you're still hungry after that, then eat more vegetables and fruit.
  10. Stay active. Regular exercise can help with so many of the challenges you face during the holiday season. It helps you cope with the stress of traveling, because exercising releases endorphins that help boost your mood and energy. At the airport, if you have time, walk beside those moving sidewalks instead of standing and letting them carry you to your terminal. During your flight, walk up the aisles as much as possible without making the other passengers crazy, or do shoulder, abdominal, calf, ankle, or foot exercises while you're seated. If you're traveling by car, take frequent breaks, get out of the car, walk around, and get some fresh air. If you're staying home for the holidays, get the family involved! Depending on the climate, go ice skating, hiking, sledding, skiing, biking, surfing, or walking the dog. And go for a walk together after your big meal—it'll help you all digest better.

Now, I love the holidays as much as anyone, so I'm not asking you to deprive yourself of any holiday cheer. I'm just asking you to be aware of your body and the temptations and pitfalls it faces this season. Because the holidays have a way of testing your self-control, it's a good idea to have a plan in place well in advance for dealing with them. That way, you'll have a better chance of remaining on your regular regimen of exercise and dieting. You can even make it your New Year's resolution to keep a healthy lifestyle and continue working toward your goals.

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And if you'd like to know more about Beachbody Director of Results Steve Edwards' views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration.

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Long Live the Liver: 10 Ways to Look After Your (Second) Largest Organ

By Sarah Stevenson

When was the last time you checked in with your liver? In truth, most of us don't give our livers much thought, except maybe the morning after a night spent drinking too many dirty martinis. And that's too bad because the liver is an organ that is critical to your health.

Next to your skin, your liver is the second largest organ in the body. You can find this lovely maroon colored organ under your upper right ribcage. Every single nutrient that enters the body must pass through your liver in order to be transformed into something useful. Your liver plays a key role in blood production, producing proteins, iron and vitamin B-12. It turns carbohydrates, proteins, and fat into glucose that can be used throughout the entire body. Its most famous job is ridding the body of harmful and useless toxins also known as detoxification.

Woman Getting an Ultrasound

Too much alcohol, processed junk, and greasy fried foods can negatively impact this miracle organ. In addition, stress and environmental pollution can severely reduce your liver's capabilities. Fortunately, there are many foods you can eat to nourish and heal your liver.

Dr. Sandra Cabot, the author of The Healthy Liver and Bowel Book, suggests that individuals eat foods to pamper their bodies. To fully support your liver, you need to eat a combination of foods. Some foods help the liver in the detoxification process. Others protect the liver while it's doing its detoxifying. Here are 10 suggestions that can help you pamper that oh so precious organ that answers to the name liver:

  1. Garlic. Thank goodness food tastes better with garlic, because this natural addition to food can help your liver function more efficiently. Garlic activates liver enzymes that aid in purifying your body of toxins. Garlic also contains protein, potassium, vitamins A, B, B2, and C, calcium, and zinc. These help your heart, immune system, and decreases blood pressure. Researchers suggest that raw is better when dealing with garlic. Once you heat it to a certain temperature it loses all of its nutrients and medicinal benefits. So add a couple of raw cloves in your next meal. Your organs will thank you.
  2. Hot water with lemon. In his book Biological Ionization in Human Nutrition, Dr. Beddoe states, "Lemon water is used in every person that can tolerate it. The purpose of the lemon is to: provide a natural strengthening agent to the liver enzymes when they are too dilute. The liver can make more enzymes out of fresh lemon juice than any other food element. The lemon helps fix oxygen and calcium in the liver because it regulates blood carbohydrate levels which affect the blood oxygen levels." It is also best if you start your day with this so that you promote healthy liver functioning first thing in the morning.
  3. Apple SlicesApples. An apple a day keeps liver disease at bay. Apples are a great source of fiber, which aids in moving foods naturally through your system. They also contain pectin, a "setting agent" that binds to heavy metals in the colon and helps remove them. This gives the liver the break it needs so it can properly finish the detoxification process without being overworked. Researchers found that rats fed on an extract from apple skins had a 57 percent lower risk of liver cancer due to these cleansing effects.
  4. Grapefruit. This yummy fruit was developed in Jamaica in 1814 by crossbreeding the sweet orange and the pomelo. Grapefruits help the liver clean up your body. They contain vitamin C and antioxidants that increase production of enzymes that serve as detoxifiers of many toxins including carcinogens. Grapefruits are the perfect breakfast solution to the busiest of mornings. Cut it in two, slice each of the little triangles with a knife, and devour it with a fork or simply juice it and take it on the road.
  5. A WalnutWalnuts. These nuts contain the amino acid arginine that helps the liver cleanse itself of ammonia, a toxic waste produced when protein is metabolized. Walnuts are also rich in glutathione and omega-3 fatty acids which help support healthy liver cleansing. Walnuts are a great snack food that can travel with you anywhere. You can eat them raw all by themselves or crush them up and add them to your salad or yogurt.
  6. Avocados. This green, creamy fruit helps increase the level of glutathione, an antioxidant that helps the liver perform its job of cleansing the body of dangerous toxins. Studies have shown that eating 1 or 2 avocados a week can increase your liver function and help repair damage to your liver as quickly as 1 month.
  7. An ArtichokeArtichokes. This lovely lotus-looking veggie increases the production of bile in the liver. Bile is responsible for breaking down dietary fat into digestible forms. Some researchers suggest that there is a 100 percent increase in bile flow only 30 minutes after eating an artichoke. Indulge in one of these delectable artichokes at your next meal.
  8. Beets. These scarlet-stained blood-purifying vegetables are high in flavonoids and beta-carotene. This gives them a great reputation for absorbing heavy metals that weigh the liver down and slow its cleansing properties. Many detox cleanses contain beets. The entire beet is beneficial to your health. You can juice it or cook it.
  9. Red OnionsOnions. These strongly scented Liliaceas will flush your eyes of tears and flush your liver of toxins. Onions contain vitamin B, niacin, and potassium. Their acidic properties have anti-parasite agents. Researchers suggest that strongly flavored onions can fight the growth of liver cancer cells. Onions are considered one of the healthiest foods for your liver. Bring out the tissue and chop your way toward a healthier liver.
  10. Leafy Green Vegetables. Props to Popeye, famous for his words, "I'm strong to the finish, cause I eats my spinach." That muscle man knew what he was talking about if you want to get your liver in tip top shape. Leafy green vegetables including kale, collards, spinach, chard, leaf mustard, dandelion greens, bok choy, chicory, and seaweed all qualify. These green veggies contain fiber, protein, calcium, iron, chlorophyll, and vitamins A, B, C, and K. These leafy greens have amazing antioxidant effects; they neutralize heavy metals that the liver would normally get overworked processing, and help cleanse the blood of toxins. Head to the store and green up your cart so you can punch out liver disease Popeye-style.

Eating a delicious, balanced diet can keep your liver happy and healthy or even heal a damaged liver in a very short period of time. Take the power back when it comes to your health and watch carefully what you put in your body. Make sure you are helping your organs and not causing them to work harder than they need to. You will reap a lifetime of benefits.

References

Related Articles
10 Tips for Controlling Your Inner Cookie Monster®"
"8 Lower-Calorie Holiday Cocktails"
"8 Tips for Avoiding the Holiday Pounds"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Check the Team Beachbody Chat Room for the next impromptu video chat.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in The Beachbody Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive The Beachbody Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe.

And if you'd like to know more about Beachbody Director of Results Steve Edwards' views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration.

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Recipe: Gingerbread Man Shakeology®

Gingerbread Man

Satisfy your cravings for a holiday dessert with this tasty yet healthy cinnamon-ginger spiced treat.

  • 1 scoop of Chocolate Shakeology
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1 cup skim milk

Place chocolate Shakeology, cinnamon, ginger, ice, and milk in blender; cover. Blend until creamy.

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
242 26 g 4 g 31 g 1 g < 1 g

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Recipe: Apple-Raisin Coffee Cake

Recommended by P90X® nutritionist Carrie Wiatt Apple-Raisin Coffee Cake

Got relatives staying with you over the holidays? Here's an easy breakfast recipe, chock-full of healthy fruit and nuts, that'll serve a small army.

  • 5 cups cored, peeled, and chopped apples
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2-1/2 cups whole-grain flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 13" x 9" x 2" baking pan
  • Large mixing bowl

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish or pan with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, combine apples, raisins, sugar, and walnuts, and mix them together well. Allow mixture to stand for 30 minutes. Then stir olive oil, vanilla, and egg into mixture. Sift flour, soda, and cinnamon together, then slowly stir into apple mixture, making sure it stays moist. Fold mixture into pan and bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool slightly before serving. Makes 20 servings.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 35 to 40 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
164 3 g 3 g 28 g 5 g 1 g

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