The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

November 22, 2012

Fit Festivities

Exercise more than a wish


DANVILLE — As much as the holiday season is known for shopping, the end of November and throughout December can also be known as a time for great food and drink.

In the three years he has owned Hoopeston Health and Fitness, Eliseo “Chao” Zamora said he has seen more than one person try to stave off the effects of that food and drink with the occasional work out. More often than not, he said such a “fly-by-night” attempt does not work.

“It’s not ‘I want to get fit for the holidays,’” he said. “It’s about ‘I want to get fit for life.’”

Zamora, who recently opened a larger fitness location this year at 226 Market St., in Hoopeston, said starting a workout routine for the holidays may protect someone from gaining a little weight, but it does little to improve a person’s overall health.

People who use an event — rather than a conscious decision — to begin an exercise routine rarely stick with it.

“The general public thinks of exercise as another form of a fad diet,” he said. “They think they can get in there and push it out in a couple months and slack off the rest of the year.”

“But there’s no secret for what we do here,” he said. “It’s all about what you put into it.”

Past scientific studies by the National Institutes of Health, part of the U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services, have indicated that people who do gain weight through the holiday season gain less than a pound. The studies also found, however, that the weight gained remains with the person though most of the following year.

Although getting into an exercise routine because of the holidays isn’t the way to start getting fit, there are some ways to prevent overeating during the upcoming family get-togethers and holiday gatherings.

Chad Bryant is owner of Danville Health Club in downtown Danville. He said for many it’s a foregone conclusion that people will put on a little weight.

For many, Bryant said the “grazing” method is a good strategy to take.

“I advise most of my clients to ‘graze’ all day long,” he said. “Eat 200-300 calories here and there and the body has a chance to digest, assimilate and burn those calories.”

He added if a person eats too much at one sitting, their body will store some of the influx of calories as fat.

Another idea Bryant suggests is to not go to events hungry by eating something healthy beforehand. Once the body realizes its hungry, it will go straight to the quickest form of energy — sugar, primarily in desserts.

“If you start on those bad things, it’s easy to get in calories before the body recognizes it is full,” he said.

For clients who have to skip their exercise because of the hectic holiday pace, Bryant says to “just get active,” even if it is just walking at a brisk pace.

“From a trainer standpoint, I ask them if they can skip and still get back in it,” he said. “If you get out of the habit or out of the routine, it’s really easy not to get back in that routine.”