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Bob Greene’s fitness tips for holiday health

Between shopping for gifts, decorating the house and cooking for all 27 family members, clearly the holidays offer a legitimate reason to skip your workouts, right?  

Bob Greeene

Not a chance, says Bob Greene, exercise physiologist and Oprah’s former coach. “It’s really about your mindset,” says Greene. “If you think it’s appropriate to change the rules, then you’re going to. Instead, look at each day as a way to better your life. A big part of that is taking care of yourself.”

Sorry, no excuses

Taking time off from exercise and allowing yourself to splurge around the holidays does more harm than good. Greene explains, “It only makes you feel worse. You need to re-educate yourself as to why you eat right and exercise: to create a better life. You’ll have better energy and are more likely to feel better.”

Bottom line: It’s even more important to keep up your exercise and good eating habits through the holidays. “It’s not for when you have the time — [it] should be a top priority,” Greene adds.

Coping with overindulgent family meals

But what do you do when Aunt Rosie’s gone through all that trouble preparing her famous six-cheese lasagna for Christmas Eve? It’s not your problem, says Greene.

“People who struggle the most are the ones who don’t want others to feel bad because you’re not eating their creation,” the fitness expert explains. “It’s a mindset that leads to problems.”

Greene’s advice: You don’t have to discuss it at length, but approach them up front and tell them it’s a priority to take care of yourself.

Be warned, however. “Those who are intimidated by it will try to make you feel guilty,” says Greene. “Unfortunately, people judge you on how your new habits affect their life. The people who really care about you want the good things for you.”

Stand up for yourself and it may help others follow suit and develop healthier habits as a result.

Making better choices

Ironically, a Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey dinner can be one of the healthiest meals. Turkey offers good-quality, lean protein. Even sweet potato pie can be healthy, depending on the ingredients. “If the original recipe calls for three sticks of butter, you can adjust it to make it healthier,” says Greene.

If you find it difficult to keep up your regular fitness routine, exercise on the go. Get to the malls early, before they’re crowded with shoppers, and get in a vigorous walk. Build it into your day. Greene suggests, “Wear a pedometer to count your steps.” Aim for 10,000 steps a day, the recommended amount for cardiovascular fitness.

Fitness gift ideas

Consider giving (and buying for yourself) fitness and health-related gifts this season. Greene recommends:

  • A pedometer
  • Exercise bands and tubing
  • Fitness balls, inflatable for sitting, as well as weighted medicine balls for resistance exercise
  • A Philips Wake-up light, to help wake you up gently and energize you on dark days

These products plus Bob’s tips can help ensure you’ll start off 2012 in the best shape ever.

More health and fitness tips for the holidays

Holiday gift guide for the ultimate fitness chick
Our best tips for stress-free holiday travel
5 Stress less tips for the holidays

Photo credit: Kat Goduco/

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