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Self-discipline faces challenges as holiday season arrives

Running and Fitness
Saturday, November 3, 2018

This is the time of year when self-discipline, challenges to good habits, and exercise are faced with some serious choices. From now until mid-January outside interference is present week after week to curtail all good health and fitness practices.  

It started last Wednesday with Halloween. The kids bring home sacks full of candy, and more than likely, you may have at least half of a bag of small candy bars.   Even with your best intentions those little candy bars and goodies are tempting you. The bars are so small that you think if you eat just one it won’t be so bad. The problem is that since they are so small you will probably take two, or three, when you pass the bowl of candy. Once is not too bad, but when it happens several times a day those extra trips add inches to the waist line.  

The next problem comes when you go to an office, or place of work, and well-meaning co-workers bring their left overs to work so they will not be tempted at home. And mid-day munchies are so hard to control when you walk by those treats.  I have taken my left overs to the office for a number of years and without fail the candy is gone by the end of the day. I had a bowl on my desk in case someone wanted a little burst of energy. There were several times when one of the workers would grab a handful of bars and say, “These are for the people in the office.”  

Next up is Thanksgiving. At least when you look at this meal it is somewhat healthy. Turkey, sweet potatoes, salad, and vegetables are good for you. Where things break down is not quality, but quantity.  Larger helpings, seconds, maybe thirds, and the calories start to add up. While the main course is healthy it is hard to say the same thing about pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and apple pie. And who can eat pie without a helping of ice cream on top of it?  

All those miles you have been running are not equal to the calories coming in versus calories going out. And when those extra pounds begin to attach themselves to your waistline running is much harder than it was a few weeks ago.  

These two holidays are soon followed by gearing up for Christmas. Theoretically it may be two big meals – Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. But, from past experience I have lost count of the number of office parties a week before the actual Christmas holiday.  And here you have more turkey, ham, pecan pie, cupcakes, cookies, and stuffing from the turkey.  And the calorie march continues on.  

And not to be out done on holiday celebrations, next up is New Year’s Day. New Year’s Day is bad enough, but if you are a sports fan, there are several weekend football bowl games that you are invited to watch that will include chips and dip, drinks, and maybe some pizza.  And at that time the Championship Bowls football games arrive. More gatherings of cheering sports fans,  more chips and dip, and some thirst quenching drinks to help you get in the spirit of the games.

And just when you think you can get back to a normal life the NFL Playoffs begin.  Play-offs last two weeks and then the big Super Bowl party is there to add to the calories.  I have been to Super Bowl parties put on by my running buddies and I think some of those runners have hollow legs.  Some of my running friends are still skinny and probably went for a long run that morning.  But, runners are not always big outside sports fans that will watch a lot of football bowl games all day.  Games start at 10 a.m. and finish up around 11 p.m. for a lot of sitting.  

Serious runners will have a run at the top of their priority list and will be able to fight the challenge of Halloween, Thanksgiving, office parties, Christmas, and New Year’s Day feasts.  For serious runners this part of the year helps fight those food feasts.  Starting in the fall, and continuing on through February, this is marathon season for runners.  Training for a marathon means long runs on weekends, added miles during the week, and with the extra food available, this is what a runner training for a marathon needs.  Whether you call it ‘carbo-loading’ or ‘replenishing energy’, it seems that any extra food is used up out on the roads.

If you are not a marathon runner then you need to toughen up on self-discipline and keep up with the running schedule.  It helps to go for a run before a big meal to speed up your metabolism to burn those extra calories.  A nice walk after the meal also helps burn off those pies you had for desert.  Enjoy the holidays and use common sense in size portions at the big meal. Try to be like a coach at a football game, pace around the room pretending you are the coach on the sidelines and get your miles in while you watch the games. Throw in an extra jump, or side straddle hop, on a good play and it will all help keep the calories off your waist line. 

It is a challenging part of the year for maintaining your weight and keeping up with an exercise schedule, but with a little extra will power it can be done.  

San Marcos Record

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