The Walkablock Club
Monthly Fitness Articles
"December 99"


The Dark Zone

By Michelle Gagnon

We in the field of fitness   refer to the period from Thanksgiving to New Year’s as “The Dark Zone.
In the space of a little more than a month, we watch all our efforts of the past year gone to naught with the sudden onslaught of pie, holiday parties, and champagne. Those five pounds that everyone seems to pack on over the holidays can be avoided, however;
it just takes an extra moment of contemplation
as you dip the ladle into the punch bowl.

Here are a few tricks:

1.   Eat before you get in the door. If you arrive at a party straight from work and are ravenous, chances are you will load up on every hors d’oeuvre carried within reach. That means lots of carbs and fat, little or no protein. Plan ahead. Invest in some tupperware, and bring food to work (this is a good idea for everyday meals as well; and it saves a fortune on take-out.) Pre-cook marinated chicken breasts, stash one in the cooler along with some fruit or veggies (bell peppers are easy,) and enjoy a snack in the late afternoon. This will enable you to enjoy one or two pigs in a blanket without consuming the whole platter. Help yourself to the crudités that are always so plentiful (and generally untouched,) going easy on the dip. Most importantly, remember that cheese alone is not a food group.
2.   Continue working out, even if it means revising your schedule. But be realistic; if you’ve been going to the gym or walking twice a day (God forbid,) adjust so that you can enjoy the season while still maintaining your fitness level. Usually, it is a good idea to switch to morning workouts; that minimizes the amount of sessions that you will miss. Be honest with yourself; although no one leaps out of bed exhilarated to hit the gym at 6:30AM, if you succumb to the lure of the snooze button as you murmur, “I’ll go after work,” chances are you won’t go at all. There are simply too many evening events and parties during this season. And getting your workout out of the way means enjoying yourself guilt-free at the office Christmas fiesta.
3.   Alternate water and liquor (and old trick from my bartending days.) In other words, for every glass of wine that you consume, grab a glass of water on your next foray to the bar. This will reduce the chance of a hangover (and an excuse to miss a workout) and will insure that you stay sober enough to make the right choices at the party, with regard to food, beverages, and whether or not to xerox bodyparts.
4.   Eat 3 meals, 2 snacks/day. Your body composition is influenced by both diet and exercise; and surprisingly, more the former than the latter. If you focus on eating healthy meals (protein, vegetable or fruit, a little mono-unsaturated fat, and no dessert) four-five times/day, you will still maintain your current weight even if Gold’s Gym is just a sign you see from the highway on your way home from work. Stay away from pasta, rice, potatoes, and other starchy carbs; these are the true fatteners.
5.   Don’t try to lose weight. It is highly unrealistic, if not unheard of, for one of my clients to actually lose weight in this time period. The goal should be to stay on track, and not to gain. It is important to enjoy yourself and celebrate a little; so some indulgence is inevitable and necessary to maintain sanity throughout the rest of the year.
6.   If all else fails…………. Remember, New Year’s Resolutions are right around the corner. It’s a long race, and the trick is to love your body every step of the way; something could always be changed, and everyone is constantly striving for a perfection that will never be achieved until you love what you see in the mirror today.
I’m not encouraging gross over-consumption, but life is meant to be lived, tasted, and enjoyed. If you look like Brad Pitt/Cindy Crawford, but never allow yourself a bite of the fantastic sweet potato pie your Aunt Mabel makes, you will have missed out.
So, deck those halls and jingle some bells. Please don’t drink and drive. And Have a Happy Millenium.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) can help you to find an ACE certified trainer in your area. They can be contacted at either, or by calling 1.800.825.3636.

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