Healthy holidays will make a happier New Year

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The holidays are here and so are the food and festivities that go with them.

Like no other time of the year, this is the season when it becomes easy to throw our healthy habits out the window and "enjoy the season," which really translates as giving ourselves permission to overindulge and skip our workouts.

Instead of bringing that sense of enjoyment instead this makes us feel worse in the long run.

Consider these tips to maintain your healthful habits this holiday season:

Bring fun into your workout.

You may not want to hit the gym for your usual workout, so try ice skating, snow shoveling or taking a brisk walk in the crisp air bundled up in your hat and mittens.

Who says you have to stick to the same routine? When our family is in town we make time to walk, talk and catch up instead of simply sitting around on couches eating a second round of cookies.

Eat your treats, but less of them.

If you know you will crave those wonderful butter cookies later, enjoy one now, but savor it. Make one cookie last. Truly enjoying one cookie will help you satisfy your craving. So, enjoy your treats in small portion sizes.

Fill your plate with protein, fiber and greens.

If you have a tendency to overindulge with all the wonderful rich food available during the holidays, fill your plate with protein and fiber-rich foods first and then go back for other items. By filling your plate with healthful items first, you may be too full to eat an unhealthy amount of the other choices.

Snack on the way.

If you are headed out to a holiday gathering and you know there may not be healthy choices there, eat a healthy snack on your way so you will not be as hungry for the food at the party. A handful of almonds or an apple are a couple of great choices to help fill you up.

Set goals now.

Don't wait until Jan. 1 to start your New Year's resolutions. Waiting until the New Year can often cause you to over indulge and under exercise in anticipation of your start date. Start now. Who says you have to wait until the new year to start working on your life goals? Don't delay start today.

Lastly, take time to have fun and enjoy making memories.

Spending time with the people we love and who love us. Play a game, have a snow ball fight, or go skating.

Any of these activities can be a great way to spend time with your loved ones and are often more memorable than a good pumpkin cheesecake.

Shauna Coleman is the healthy living director of the Walla Walla YMCA. She also teaches Zumba and RIPPED group fitness classes and leads the Live on Strong cancer wellness program.

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