Merry Christmas and a healthy Happy New Year!

Tomorrow is the big day for many of us here on the island. A day of feasting, family and friends. Hopefully, you have managed to get through the holiday parties and celebrations while still keeping your commitment to your health.

The best ways to do that, of course, are by staying active, and keeping to your workout schedule as well as keeping to your healthy eating and socializing ideals. The rules do and should bend a little at this festive time of year, but just because they bend, does not allow them to break.

The healthiest among us allow ourselves a little glass of bubbly or a little taste of a treat. That doesn’t mean we fall off the health wagon, it simply means that we can enjoy little special treats just as much as anyone else.

The one rule in my opinion that should not ever be broken is hanging out with obnoxious people. That unhealthy activity is never a good idea. Just like avoiding standing beside the bar or the treat table during the holidays to avoid unconscious consumption, you can always move to the other side of the room when you see a toxic personality coming your way.

Here are some tips to enjoy your holiday season, (yes, there is still more coming your way with the New Year’s celebrations fast on the heels of Christmas):

Eat before you go to parties so that you will not arrive hungry and therefore tempted to over-indulge in unhealthy fat- and sugar- laden treats.

Bring a healthy dish that you have prepared so you know what’s in there and that you can eat without guilt or clogging your arteries or sending your blood sugar soaring.

Set a maximum of alcoholic drinks, and be wary of the host who wants to keep filling your glass. For each alcoholic drink you take, also take a glass of water. A drink is considered to be 5 ounces of wine (not a mug full), 1 ounce of hard liquor or 12 ounces of beer. Women should not have any more than one drink a day and men should not have more than two drinks a day and no you can’t save them up for the week.

If someone is circulating with appetizers, be aware of what you are popping in your mouth. It is very easy to eat unawares, and those yummy little treats can really pack on the calories and pounds as they are usually fairly fatty little items. When serving yourself, load up on the salad or raw veggies and go light on the sauces and the buttery vegetables.

Dessert is always an issue at this time of year as everyone has their favorite tradition of a special recipe that they want you to sample. Taking little sample of each is the only way to make everyone happy — not full servings of each. Then get active afterwards.

Sitting around after a big meal, drinking more and nibbling throughout the evening is disastrous to your health-wise plan. Go for a walk, play with the children, help clean up but move and remember to hit the gym or go for a walk the next day, wherever you might be.

As for the third rule of living a healthy, happy life — hanging out with healthy, happy, like-minded people — this is not always possible at family-oriented occasions, as some of the family may not be on the same track as you. Hopefully you have selected your friends based on similar interests and lifestyle goals.

Family is a different thing as you don’t select your family. Minimize contact with contentious people. You can be polite but protective. If some in your family are pushing alcohol or food on you: it is your mouth and you don’t have to consume. If they are pushing their ideas or their negativity on you: it is your mind and you don’t have to embrace their outlook.

Protect yourself from the possible negative side effects of the holiday season by preparing yourself and having a game plan. That way you can get through it, enjoy and take what you want, and come through on the other side, healthy and happy and fit. Aloha, and live well.

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Dr. Jane Riley, EdD., is a certified personal fitness trainer, nutritional adviser, and behavior change specialist. She can be reached at janerileyfitness@gmail.com, 212-8119 cell/text and www.janerileyfitness.com

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