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6 Ways to stop recession weight gain

Vicki Salemi is passionate about writing. As a regular contributor to AOL, MSN and numerous sites and publications she also blogs regularly for CNBC European Business, Women for Hire and Manhattan adventures on her website www.vickisalem...

Gain health after a job loss

Let's face it: Between anxiety of pending layoffs or getting laid off yourself, you may get an inevitable case of the munchies. And if you have been downsized, you may no longer be tempted by a vending machine down the office hallway, but you are probably spending more time at home, on the couch and in front of the computer. Exercise, anyone? Here are six ways to stop recession-related weight gain and actually let job loss be a boon to your health.

Woman Cooking Healthy Meal1. Appreciate the gift of time

According to Deborah Enos, CN, the "one minute wellness coach" and author of Weight a Minute! Transform your Health in 60 Seconds a Day, having extra time is a luxury to appreciate! She explains, "This is a good time to read some basic books on nutrition and explore new recipes that are quick, healthy and low cost."

As for the nuts and bolts of how to bolster that downtime and get off the coach? Enos suggests trying two to three new recipes each week. "Make sure they are healthy (low-fat and high-fiber) and then start freezing them so you have a steady supply of healthy foods once you start your new job."

2. Set goals and get back on track

Meredith Sobel, a certified integrative and wellness coach of Sobel Wellness, "Being unemployed creates an opportunity to focus on your health which may have slipped into unhealthy habits when you were employed." Maybe your office had countless birthday parties with cake and cookies galore. Or maybe that vending machine kept calling your name during that 3 to 4 pm afternoon slump. Being unemployed gives you the opportunity to take stock and "get back on track."

Plus, Enos says it's a great time to institute new health goals into your regimen. If you want to eat healthier, why not tell yourself you'll eat five vegetables each day? Or maybe utilize the time to hit the gym five days each week.

3. Finesse your food budget

Since pink slippers are on a tight budget, Enos recommends shopping at farmers markets to save money and also learn from farmers how to select fruits and veggies and properly cook and prepare them. She also suggests clipping coupons from the Sunday newspaper. "While I hate taking the time to cut them out, "she says, "I do love saving 10 to 15 dollars every time I go food shopping."

She also recommends looking for the manager's specials in the meat department. "These are packages of meat that will hit their expiration date soon. I take them home and freeze them for future use. Often saving 40 to 50 percent!" Having a kitchen full of healthy, wholesome foods will give you the opportunity to make a satisfying, diet-conscious meal, rather than ripping open a bag of chips.

4. Add protein to your meals

In addition to keeping healthy foods within reach, adding protein to the mix is a wise decision, too. "Protein has a chemical in it, catecholamines, that can help you to stay focused and energized…exactly what you need during this time of stress!" Protein can also keep you feeling full longer, so you are less likely to over-snack in between meals. Try a veggie scramble for breakfast, a sandwhich filled with lean meat and low-fat cheese for lunch, and a modest portion of seafood or poultry and vegetables for dinner. You can also add tofu, nuts, and beans and legumes to your meals and snacks.

5. Get moving!

Another budget-friendly tip? "Cancel your expensive gym membership and start walking or trying classes at a reduced cost at your local community center or YMCA." Since stress is almost always associated with job loss as well as the job search, Enos emphasizes the importance of starting your day with exercise. "Exercise will release endorphins. Endorphins make you feel great (the word endorphin comes from the word morphine) and during this time of stress, you need as much help as you can get to make yourself feel better. Even just walking for 20 to 30 minutes first thing in the morning can help you feel better for hours." Exercise is also an ideal substitute for haphazard snacking and can even reduce your appetite.

6. Think: "This is just a season"

Enos mentions it's important to establish new exercise habits now so when you go back to work you'll continue with your new routine. Above all, as you're concocting healthy meals and focusing on exercise, keep in mind that the good habits you're developing will help you take care of yourself during this temporary transition. When you do go back to work, you are more likely to resist vending machine temptation and use your lunch break to go for a brisk walk or get in a mini-workout.

Enos advises, "And remember, this is just a season, you will get through it and taking care of your health will help you manage this season to the best of your abilities."

More ways to manage your health during a tight economy

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