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Health for the Holidays

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Act now to ensure that you enjoy the coming season—all season long

nol_nov07_medres_page_12_image_0001.jpgEven more frightening than the ghouls and goblins that herald the approach of the winter season that follows—which, in New Orleans, begins with Thanksgiving and sometimes doesn’t really end until Jazz Fest—is the prospect of facing down yet another year of holiday and carnival madness while attempting to maintain some semblance of health and sanity. It’s not always easy.

Here in this land of laissez les bon temps rouler, the holidays are particularly high times, filled with music, laughter, good food, good cheer and the good company of oft far-flung friends and family. But a host of stressors is also heightened at this time of year. During this season of mingling and making merry, demanding social schedules can take a heavy toll. Our calendars are packed with shopping trips and errands, our to-do lists seem to stretch as long as river levees and all the reveling and running around expose us to new and different strains of germs than our bodies are unaccustomed to. We end up so tired and depleted from all the fun and fervor that our immune systems start to power down for their long winter naps. Oh, and lest we forget, everywhere we turn, there awaits another tray of goodies or an offer of a soothing cocktail. It’s no wonder we overindulge! Not only is holiday food delicious, but if offers a panacea to all the stress and anxiety the season of cheer can bring. It’s no surprise that we end up ringing in each new year with a cold, a chronic headache, and an anxiety complex— not to mention the same “serious” fitness resolution we made last year.

Each summer in New Orleans, we stock up on canned goods and other emergency necessities in preparation for hurricane season. We weatherproof our houses and safeguard our belongings long before the storm makes landfall. I think we can learn a lot from our summertime routine and apply it to our lives in the wintertime: A veritable storm of possible stressors is sure to arrive with each holiday season, so it makes sense to safeguard our health in November just as we do our homes in June.

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In order to stay healthy through the holidays then, we need to begin taking healthy actions now; it’s much too late to try to start them on Christmas Eve. Our holidays will be much easier if we go into them with established exercise routines and immunity-boosting supplements.

If you are thinking of waiting until the New Year to make your healthy resolutions, please don’t! There is no time like the present, and no present like the gift you give yourself when you take good care of yourself. Put yourself at the top of your holiday giving list this year, and give yourself the best health ever. If you do, you’ll be able to give, receive, and enjoy all the glad tidings the season brings.

HEALTH FOR THE HOLIDAYS
If you want to maintain optimal health

throughout the coming season, you’ll need to: PLAN FOR IT. Put it on your calendar! You won’t do it if you don’t make room for it in your already-busy schedule. Whether it’s exercise or relaxation time you need, put good health in your planner—regularly.

START NOW. Don’t wait until it’s too late! The tips below provide a starting point for creating healthy holiday habits. You’ll be healthier sooner if you enact them now rather than waiting until New Year’s Eve.

STAY MINDFUL.
Intend to breeze through this holiday season without so much as a sneeze or stretched seam. Picture yourself happy and healthy come Mardi Gras, and continue to be aware of the importance of your fitness and health.

Get a head start today with these holiday health-saving tips! • Get a flu shot. Local physician Dr. Esteban Gershanik recommends getting a flu shot as early as possible and explains that it’s best to get the shot in anticipation of the flu season because it may be too late to avoid infection once the season gets under way.

• Start taking immunity supplements now. Even if you have a healthful diet, eating well may not always provide you with the nutritional support you need for optimal immunity. Bolster your immune system and your overall health with a good multivitamin and a daily dose of vitamin C. Try Sprayology Homeopathic and Vitamin Sprays, available at Belladonna (www.belladonnadayspa.com). These safe and effective natural oral sprays deliver a whopping 90 percent to 96 percent of the vitamins and nutrients they contain (while we absorb only 20 percent to 30 percent of the vitamins and nutrients from supplements we ingest in pill form). Favorite holiday Sprayology formulas? ImmunoBooster and, of course, Party Relief.

• Don’t let the holidays wreak havoc on your fitness routine. Start now or keep up with your regular exercise schedule. While your workouts may become less frequent during the holidays, try not to forgo them altogether. It’s much easier to return to optimum fitness after a period of less frequent exercise than a period of no exercise at all. Exercise will help to reduce stress, eliminate toxins and keep your metabolism (for burning off those holiday cookies) up and running through the season. If you need a little help getting started, schedule some sessions with a personal trainer. Martin LaRocca and Kurt Weiser of Maple Street Fitness (7901 Maple St., 909-0281 or 491-4181) offer individual training sessions in their brand-new Riverbend studio, along with Boot Camp classes each Saturday morning in Audubon Park.

• If you want more motivation— and a challenge—to help you stay physically fit during the holidays, set an athletic goal that will require you to keep moving all season long. Consider walking or running in one of these upcoming races:

NOVEMBER 18—The New Orleans Track Club’s Ole Man River Half- Marathon and 5K (www.runnotc.org)

NOVEMBER 22—The 100th Annual Turkey Day 5 Mile Race through City Park on Thanksgiving Day (www.turkeydayrace.com)

FEBRUARY 24—The Mardi Gras Marathon, Half-marathon, and 5K (www.mardigrasmarathon.com)

MARCH 22—The Crescent City Classic 10K (www.ccc10K.com)

• Get outside more often. Staying indoors means breathing the same filtered air and sharing germs with others in your home and office. Spending quality time outdoors in the winter releases endorphins and stimulates the thyroid gland, which increases metabolism and energy. Take advantage of our mild winter weather and move some of your upcoming workouts out of doors, or just take some extra walks around your neighborhood to admire the holiday decorations.

• Plan to start some new healthy holiday traditions. Make long walks in the park or outdoor games with friends and family after holiday meals new yearly rituals. And, consider signing up for local outfitter Byron Almquist’s guided holiday trips with Canoe and Trail Adventures (www.canoeandtrail.com). His holiday calendar includes a Moonlight Paddle in Honey Island Swamp on November 17; a Thanksgiving weekend canoe trip in the Pearl River Basin; Christmas caroling by canoe on Bayou St. John December 15; and a camping trip on Horn Island for New Year’s Eve.

• Remember that our good health extends beyond our individual selves to the health of our community. We can help ensure the health of our economy, and thus our city, by doing our holiday shopping with local businesses. As you make your way down your holiday gift-giving list this year, consider doing more—or all—of your shopping with hometown retailers and vendors. To browse a list of locally owned and operated businesses for giftgiving ideas, visit www.staylocal.org. Shopping online? Find unique and stylish locally made holiday gifts at www.b-native.com.