The holidays are here. And what often comes with holiday cheer is not-so-joyful weight gain, fatigue, cold and flu. So how do we enjoy our favorite time of year and avoid the accompanying ails?

Watch portion sizes.

First of all, we can be conscious of how much we are eating and drinking. Excess sugar in the amount of 25 grams (that’s one 12oz Starbucks Gingerbread Latte!) can suppress the immune system for up to 5 hours, according to noted author and pediatrician Dr. Bob Sears. This is especially evident in refined sugars as opposed to complex carbohydrates and the naturally occurring sugars in fruit. You can combat the negative effects of holiday treats by making sure to consume more of the good stuff.

Make a meal plan that nourishes your system throughout the holidays. 4-5 cups daily of fruits and vegetables are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. The recommended serving size for meat, poultry and fish is approximately 3 oz, or about the size of a deck of cards.

Simply put, make sure to eat a little turkey and stuffing with your salad and veggies, not a little salad with your turkey and stuffing! Minimize the sugary and fatty treats to a bite versus full servings. Watch the portion sizes and eat fresh foods. Remember no treat tastes good enough to miss the fun because it made you sick!

Remember your exercise routine.

Exercise induces more oxygen to your system and helps your lymphatic system to cleanse the toxins. According to a Boston University study, the amount of adipose tissue (fat) in the human body can affect the immune system’s ability to ward off bacteria, viruses and even tumors. So it makes sense to keep a leaner, healthier body to avoid illness. Cardio-exercise is instrumental in keeping your cardio-pulmonary system healthy. Strength training has a positive effect on posture and bone density.

Take charge of your fitness NOW. Don’t wait until the New Year to begin. It is a lot easier to keep the weight off in the first place than to try to lose it later! So put on those walking shoes, get to the gym or take a fitness class…today!

Don’t stress about the holidays.

Stress plays a major role in holiday illness. We worry about shopping for kids, spouses, significant others, family and friends. We have changing schedules and changing weather patterns, all which tend to lead to increased amounts of stress this time of year. According to the Cleveland Clinic, reducing stress will greatly benefit immune function.

Have a plan to deal with shopping, relatives, kids, and social schedules, and by all means, take some time to relax. Treat yourself to an Epsom salt bath, a massage or other relaxation therapy to keep yourself grounded during this busy time of year. You deserve good holiday health …and all throughout the year…cheers!

Lew Bronstein is a Certified Personal Fitness Trainer and Life Coach at Revitalize Life. You can reach him at 760.328.8080 or online 

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