Vail Daily health column: Enjoy the holiday season and stay healthy |

Vail Daily health column: Enjoy the holiday season and stay healthy

Rod Connolly
Special to the Daily |

The holiday season is often the busiest time of year for many Vail Valley locals. It is also a time of financial importance to our community and local businesses. This snapshot of our community coincides with studies done on the rest of the country. Americans typically gain more weight from Thanksgiving through the end of the year than the other 10 and a half months combined. Studies also show that Americans consider the holiday season the most stressful time of the year.

Here are some helpful tips to enjoy the holidays, and even improve upon your health and well-being.

• Take a different perspective: Most Americans polled state they “just want to make it through the holidays.” Once people resign themselves to this attitude they feel less empowered and more susceptible to being reactive to other people or circumstances. As an alternative, practice positivity and set short-term goals for yourself during this season. The goals can be personal or work-related, but make them attainable. Be receptive to challenges that arise during this time and try to think of them as opportunities that will create growth both mentally and emotionally.

• Create structure: Make appointments for yourself. These can be appointments for a healthy activity with a friend or a fitness class. Even if it is a solo workout, mark it on your calendar just like it is a business meeting. Be specific on the time frame you are going to exercise and what activity you are going to do. If you think, “Oh, I will try to fit something in” versus scheduling time accordingly, then the probability of exercise drops significantly.

Even short amounts of time can help. Try these tips to keep you moving on busy days.

• Rise and shine for a short, brisk 10-15 minute walk first thing in the morning before breakfast. Setting positive intentions for the day helps get your metabolism up and creates a platform for being less susceptible to pitfalls that can occur during the day.

• Often when something creates stress we turn to food or take a reactive stance. If you are feeling stressed out, move around or do five minutes of meditative breathing. Choosing activity or breathing work will quickly switch responses in the brain from emotional eating patterns or reactive behavior to something positive that keeps you on track to hit your goals.

• Incorporating intensity into short workouts is very effective for leaning out and decreasing stress. Outside or on a treadmill, do a five-minute warm up then go as hard as you can safely go for one minute followed by one minute of easy recovery. Cycle through this five times then cool down for three minutes. In just 18 minutes, you will have significantly increased your metabolism and created a sensation in the brain that will reduce emotional stress and promote positive thought.

• Plan ahead with snacks: The human body will keep its metabolism revved up and less likely to store body fat if we take in small amounts of healthy food every three to three-and-a-half hours. A perfect snack is a green apple, a small handful of almonds and a glass of water. The combination of the pectin fiber in the apple, and the protein and healthy fats in the almonds creates a high level of satiety that will keep you feeling full. Enjoying snacks like this will help you avoid falling into the trap of unhealthy trigger foods and overeating at meals and gatherings.

Dogma Athletica is once again offering a 30 Days of Presence Program. The program begins on Dec. 1 and runs through Dec. 31. This program is open to 20 participants. The program includes supportive meetings from Dogma’s expert trainers and staff, daily structured workouts designed to de-stress and lean out, a helpful nutrition component featuring healthy versions of holiday favorites, daily intentions and inspiring quotes to help keep you centered and present and a beginning and ending body composition test. Prior participants lost significant amounts of body fat and felt more balanced during this busy season. The program includes a five-week membership to Dogma Athletica and is priced at $250. Call Dogma at 970-688-4433 to reserve a space or to obtain more information.

Rod Connolly is the owner of Dogma Athletica and an exercise physiologist. For questions on health, fitness or nutrition, email Rod at

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