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Tis’ the season to be standing in long lines at the grocery store, discount store, convenience market, pharmacy, or various other retail outlets.  If not in a store, you could be sitting in a doctor’s office or other waiting room.

Regardless of the location, your gaze is sure to land on the headlines on magazines, tabloids, or other publications.  They all contain a similar message, how to lose 10 pounds in 10 days or how to avoid weight gain during the holidays.  Their pages are full of ads for miracle pills or weight loss supplements.  The before and after pictures of the people who have tried the plans look impressive, but do these plans work?

Some of the plans may work temporarily, but over the course of time the weight is gained back.  One need only watch the TV show The Biggest Loser as a testament to what really works and that is a combination of diet and exercise.  This requires lifestyle changes that are dramatic.  Face it folks, the majority of us don’t really want to put forth the effort required to be a healthy weight and to keep our bodies strong, so we keep searching for the quick fix that requires little or no effort.  But, until that bona fide miracle pill is invented, we have no other way to achieve our fitness goals than hard work.

I am amused and sometimes put off by some of the suggestions that are made for maintaining or losing weight during the holidays when food is plentiful and full of empty calories.  By empty, I mean foods that have little or no nutritional value. 

One suggestion is to eat something before you attend a party so that you won’t be hungry and tempted to eat all those goodies.  What a brilliant idea!  The only problem is that any overeater eats whether or not they are hungry, so this theory will only add more calories.  However, if you are in touch with how full your stomach is, you can avoid getting too hungry by eating smaller meals and snacks throughout the day so that you won’t be tempted to overstuff at the party.

The best thing is to go for the veggies and fruit and allow just a taste of the sweet stuff.  You will definitely save calories and you won’t suffer the guilt that comes along with the overeating.

Getting in an extra workout here and there will help keep extra weight at bay. 

Eat nutritional, low calorie meals.  Homemade soup is a great way to do this.  The broth is tasty and the vegetables are good for you.  I like to keep a soup on hand that I call Dump Soup, because I really do just dump whatever I have on hand in the pot and make soup from it.  Most of the time I don’t put meat in it so that it will keep longer and I don’t have to be concerned that it goes bad after a few days.  This is a hearty soup, very low calorie, full of fiber (which is filling) and protein, and great for those cold days.  You will find the recipe at the end of this blog.

This brings me to another fitness tip that annoys me.  It’s the one about using your soup cans as weights.  How dumb is this?  First of all, those soup cans aren’t heavy enough to bring about any results except for the very feeble bodied and they can’t get a good grip on them, so why use them?  It would be much better to invest in 4 lbs. and up dumbbells or an exercise tube to get results from your at-home workout.

Take the stairs instead of the elevator.  Okay, let’s take the stairs up, but please take the elevator down, because weight bearing (your body weight) knee flexion of greater than 90 degrees is equal to 8 times your body weight compression force on your knee cap!  Knees won’t last long if we walk down those flights of stairs very often.

Park as far away from the store as you can so you can get those few extra steps in and burn more calories.  It’s the holidays, do we have a choice!!!I always get a chuckle at the people at the gym who complain about not being able to find a parking place and having to walk a distance to work out, poor things.

Ask for a piece of cardio equipment for your home for Christmas.  This is a terrific idea if you will use it.  Home equipment is a real space hog, so unless you commit to be fit by using it you are much better off to invest in a gym membership and get motivated by working out with other people and logging your progress.  It’s fun and it works!  If you do get the home equipment, consider hiring a trainer to teach you how to use it and prescribe an exercise program for you.

I could go on and on about the redundant helpful tips, but I prefer to stick to the facts.  Diet and exercise is the prescription that works and lasts a lifetime.  I truly wish you a joyous and souper holiday season.

DUMP SOUP

3 cans stewed tomatoes

3 cans beef broth

1 T Worchestershire

2 tsp. Lawry’s seasoned salt

3 bay leaves

1-2 large onions, chopped

1 small bag of frozen green beans

1 medium can of

1 small can of peas

3-4 potatoes, quartered or 1/8ths

Baby carrots to taste

1 can black beans or pintos

1 can red kidney

2 cans of water

Optional:- 1 lb browned ground beef or 3 boiled chicken breasts, diced.

If you like it spicy, add 1 can of Rotel and ½ pkg. taco seasoning mix.Makes a large stock pot full and freezes very well.

Heat all ingredients to a gentle boil, then simmer on medium heat for 30-45 minutes.

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