Holiday Survival, Hot Yoga, New Year’s Resolutions: Delaware Health

Holiday Survival

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s the time where the parties start and every office kitchen has colorful tins of snacks that vaguely resemble popcorn. It’s the time of the year when people bring their own homemade dishes to buffets and you realize how much butter they use in recipes that don’t actually call for butter. So since it’s that time of the year, how does one get through it without needing a lot of sweatpants to wear through January?

On Dec. 6, Christiana Care will be holding a Holiday Survival presentation as part of its Celebrating Women’s Health Lecture Series. I spoke with one of the featured nutritionists for the event, registered dietitian Gabrielle Snyder Marlow, about the challenges of weight management during the holiday season.

“The concern about weight gain during the holidays tends to effect people’s self-esteem,” Snyder Marlowe says. “It keeps them from enjoying the holidays altogether, so it’s important to feel in control and remember what these holidays are really about.”

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Control during the holidays? I always thought the word holiday meant “out of control” in some other language. But I can see the point. What can people do to maintain that control? Snyder Marlow stresses the importance of being mindful. As the holidays can be stressful and full of frenetic energy, it’s critical to slow down and pay attention to your feelings and behaviors. She offers the following nugget of wisdom:

“From Thanksgiving until the beginning of January, it’s 43 days,” she says. “That’s really about 12 days of parties, which leaves you 29 days of mindfulness. Look at it as a mindset. Keep reasonable. Remember it’s a holiday, not a holi-month.”

So how can we exhibit that mindfulness? Here are some helpful tips:

  • Bring your own healthy dish to a holiday party. This way you know what you will be consuming.
  • Ask yourself what you will get for your calories. Do you want a cookie and small brownie or the plate of fruit crackers and scallops wrapped in turkey bacon that has the same number of calories?
  • Fill your plate with half vegetables, half high-fiber, low-calorie foods.
  • Plan what and how much you want to drink in the same manner as you plan your meal.
  • Eat a bowl of soup before you attend the party so you are not as hungry and less likely to indulge.
  • Make the holidays about weight maintenance—not about losing or gaining.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year; give yourself the gift of peace of mind.


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Hot Yoga: Can You Take the Heat?

I used to think yoga was just for incredibly flexible people. Then I realized that’s exactly how they got that way. I also assumed that hot yoga was for people who were really good at yoga, as if it was the graduate school of yoga. I was wrong. It happens.

It turns out anyone can take hot yoga, regardless of age or learning level. So here is my question: Why would you? It’s really hot in that room. Doesn’t that make it harder? Can you find peace of mind while you are that thirsty? I spoke with Kat Pusey at Empowered Yoga in Wilmington to learn more.

“There are incredible benefits to hot yoga and there are even classes to help you acclimate to the temperature of the room,” Pusey says. Here are some of those benefits:

Stronger muscles.  By heating the muscles, you are protecting them from injury. According to Pusey, “Heat is going to protect your muscles when you go into deep stretching. You will get that protection in a non-heated class, but you won’t get there right away. In a heated class, you are there right away and it’s safer for you.”

Detoxification. During a class your body will expel toxins through sweat, which cleans your pores and your skin. I asked about whether people who take non-heated yoga classes would get the same benefit. “There are those who can naturally heat their bodies and detox in their classes without heat,” Pusey says, “but many people are not able to heat their own bodies so the room heat aids the process along.”

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Effective Breathing. Wait, how is breathing a benefit? It’s the type of breathing one does during a yoga session that enables these types of benefits. And by breathing right you can experience other benefits, which include: improved cardiovascular health, improved circulation, improved posture, core and back strength and peace of mind.

With the winter months approaching, this could be a terrific option if you want to stay warm and flexible. Pusey advises class participants to let their instructor know if they have any injuries or ailments so they can offer accommodations and suggest different poses.

So if truly anyone can do this, I may have to give this a try. If at the end of the session, I have better skin, peace of mind and a stronger stomach—then I can take the heat.


New Year’s Resolutions

When it comes to making New Year’s resolutions, I have a secret strategy. I make painfully simple ones such as, “call Stacey back.”  For me this system is foolproof, I know I will keep my resolutions and not let myself down. If I made a list of the typical harder resolutions such as “really learn to cook instead of making eggs a lot,” then we would have a list that would haunt me. And we can’t have that.

Many of us want to have healthier eating habits. I have heard of people who make extreme changes as of New Year’s Day. Can someone just become a vegetarian overnight? Is that where the term “cold turkey” really came from? I consulted with an expert to find out how to most effectively change one’s eating habits. Cosmia Weinerth, certified health coach and personal chef with Pure Harmony Cuisine, shared the following tips for converting a resolution into a complete lifestyle change.

Choose a goal. “The best place is to identify specific areas in their diet and lifestyle—eating less sugar, stop late-night binging, making sure you eat breakfast, upping your fruits and vegetables. Once you decide, prioritize your goals. Ask yourself what will you gain? How will you feel?” says Weinerth.

To get started, Weinerth advises her clients to write three action steps they can take to meet that goal. These steps help her clients visualize the changes they wish to make.

Start small. It’s best not to make extreme changes overnight. Let’s take my friend who wants to become a vegetarian as of 2013. Weinerth advises she break down becoming vegetarian into action steps. “Try choosing a day to have a vegetarian day,” Weinerth says. “If that’s easy then pick it up to two days, and so on.”

Moderation is your friend. Weinerth encourages her clients to occasionally allow themselves to indulge and note how their bodies feel. Healthier eating encourages the body to crave healthier foods. “It’s important that they enjoy the food, but they know their bodies better after changing their habits,” Weinerth says. “One client told me they were looking forward to having a candy bar but then it was not as good as they remembered.”

Find Support and patience. Seeking support may sound easier than it is. Some people may not be as encouraging because they do not wish to change their own habits. Find those who do offer the support you need and tell them how much it helps you. “Stay patient and keep your eye on the prize,” Weinerth says. “These changes are like building a muscle. It takes time to strengthen and build those muscles.”

Remember big resolutions can be overwhelming. Smaller ones can be more sustainable so you are not making the same resolution again for 2014.


Healthy Events

Sunday, Dec. 9

2012 St. Francis Foundation Reindeer Ball & Children’s Gala
Location DuPont Country Club, 1001 Rockland Road, Wilmington
Time 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. (adult: $50, children: $30)
More info. 575-8265

Tuesday, Dec. 11

Steps to Healthy Aging Blood Pressure Clinic
Location  Kent General Hospital
Medical Office Building, 540 S. Governor’s Ave.. Ste. 101A
Time  9 a.m.
More info. No appointment necessary. 744-7135, or (877) 453-7107

Thursday, Dec. 13

Nanticoke Memorial Hospital’s Mocktail Party
Location Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Main Lobby, Seaford
Time 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
More info. 629-6611, ext. 2639

Tuesday, Dec. 18

COPD Lecture Series: Emotional Issues related to having a chronic disease
Location Christiana Hospital campus, Room 1100, 4755 Ogletown-Stanton Road, Newark
Time  12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.
More info. To register, call April Hall at 623-7573.


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