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Get the Party Started

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But don’t forget to eat well and exercise, too

dec-4.jpgHalloween marks the unofficial start of party season. In the rest of the country, the season lasts through New Year’s Day. But not in New Orleans. No, it’s practically a time-honored tradition to party nonstop through Mardi Gras. With all the festivities, eating and drinking, there’s even more incentive to stick to a workout regimen. Unfortunately, exercise and healthful eating are often two of the first things to go when we’re pressed for time.

Don’t let your schedule get the best of you. Try to book exercise into your day, just like any other appointment. Then don’t cancel. This can be tough. You may feel selfish making yourself and your workouts a priority. But trust me, you’ll feel better and function more effectively when you fit regular exercise into your hectic life.

Holiday season sees most of us on the go. Once you’ve got your exercise routine down, you still have to think about eating right. It’s easy to run around all day and forget to stop and eat. And it’s certainly no fun working out on an empty stomach. Jogging through the streets, catching whiffs of your neighbor’s cooking or your neighborhood restaurant’s specials of the day … it’s no wonder that all you can think about is what you’re going to devour as soon as you get home.

So what’s the best thing to eat before this squeezed-in workout? Look for carbohydrates for energy, a little protein to help stave off hunger and not too much fat or fiber or you could end up with digestive woes mid-workout.

A well-timed breakfast or lunch can pull double duty as a pre-workout snack. To avoid cramping, allow 30 minutes to an hour for digestion after breakfast and an hour or two after a larger lunch. A perfect pre-gym breakfast may be half of a whole-wheat bagel with light cream cheese; a scrambled egg with whole-wheat toast; fresh fruit with cottage cheese; a slice of cheese toast; or peanut butter on a whole grain toaster waffle.

If lunch will also be serving as your pre-workout fuel source, think ham or turkey on whole grain bread; grilled chicken with a side of pasta; or sushi rolls made with brown rice. As always, feel free to add any salad or veggies you’d like, but notice if they interfere with your digestion, leaving you feeling bloated or sluggish during your workout.

Make it a point to keep snacks in your desk or car. Stock up on whole grain crackers or nutrition bars, like Balance, Zone or Myoplex Lite.

It takes less than five minutes to plan ahead and have healthy snacks with you. A peanut butter sandwich (or a peanut butter fold-over on just one slice of bread); portable snack-size cheese with whole grain crackers; or a carton of a ready-to-drink shake such as Myoplex Lite can make preparation effortless.

When you’re out running errands, make use of the shops around you. That iced latte from the café can serve as a light pre-workout snack. Just be sure to ask for skim milk (and nix the scone along with it!). Smoothie stores also make exercise boosters. At Smoothie King, the Gladiator with banana is an excellent blend of carbohydrates and protein; at Vitality Juice, Java & Smoothie Bar, the Berry Blast

will do the job as well. The bottom line? Healthful eating and regular exercise don’t just happen—you have to make them happen. So set aside the time for workouts, and spend a minute each day thinking of where you’ll be and when, so you can plan to have a good meal or snack at the ready.