How to Survive the Holidays Without Overindulging
It’s the most wonderful time of the year again, and you’re freaking out. Everywhere you go, you don’t see glistening snow and smell effervescent pine cones. You see sugar topped cookies and cakes and smell savory roasted meats. You love so much about the holiday season, but you dread all the extra calories that come along with parties, gifts of food, and magical memory merrymaking.
Don’t hide in your house all season long just to avoid the temptation of holiday eats. Follow these seven holiday hacks to get the most out of the season of joy without overindulging or packing on the pounds.
- Protect Yourself from Mid-Day Temptation with a High Protein Breakfast. Oh no. Carol brought her famous gingerbread cookies into the office, and you’re starving. Before you know it, one little gingerbread man has turned into four, and you’re laden with guilt and gumdrop button crumbs. You’ll be better able to fight mid-day sugar cravings and unexpected temptations if you start with a healthy breakfast that includes hunger-quenching protein. Consider a healthy protein shake as a way to start your day off right.
- Eat Something Healthy Before Grocery Shopping. Not only are you surrounded by holiday treats at home, the office, and all your friends’ houses, you’re surrounded at the grocery store. Walk through the bakery this time of year and it’s even more tempting than usual since it’s packed with holiday cookies, fruit cake, and yule logs. Researchers from Cornell University found that if you eat something healthy before you grocery shop, you’ll be less likely to add unnecessary junk food items to your cart. Never grocery shop hungry, or else your bad decisions will follow you home for the holidays in the form of pumpkin spice ice cream, pumpkin spice bagels, and pumpkin spice potato chips (oh yes, they’re real).
- Don’t Skip Your Daily Workout. Your calendar may be filled with parties, shopping, and other holiday commitments, but it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re getting exercise daily. Thirty minutes of exercise five days a week will help you stay energized, burn calories, and make better dietary decisions. And yes, mall walking can count.
- Don’t Skip Meals Before Holiday Parties. Admit it. You skipped lunch before your Thanksgiving dinner, didn’t you? Let us guess. You figured you’d eat the equivalent of two of your regular meals during your Thanksgiving feast, so you would be better off skipping lunch. This choice can be an all-too-easy diet mistake. You’re better off eating a small, healthy meal before that big dinner party. Walk into cocktail hour starving, and you’ll be more likely to indulge in extra hors-d’oeuvres and chug an extra pint. Take the edge off your cravings with a healthy lunch so you can enjoy the company of the other party guests, and make sensible choices, no matter what’s on the menu.
- Take Your Dog for an Extra Walk (or Two). It can be tempting to stay indoors when the weather turns cold, but you and your dog both need to get your 10,000 steps in for the day. Commit to walking your dog before, or after dinner every day. Or, step up the challenge and walk him before and after dinner. We’re sure he’ll thank you with lots of extra love.
- Put Away Your Loose-Fitting Sweats. On chilly weekend days, all you want is to cozy up in warm sweatpants, but doing so may thwart your diet plan. When you regularly wear loose-fitting clothes, it can be easier not to notice the addition of a few extra pounds. Instead, choose formfitting clothing that makes you feel confident. It will encourage you to exercise and make healthy meal decisions throughout the day when you’re not hiding under layers of cotton-polyester blend.
- Stop Drinking Soda. Just Stop. Empty calories that come from sugary drinks can quickly lead to extra pounds you never saw coming. Always choose water over pop, sweet teas, energy drinks, and that extra glass of wine, especially during the holidays. Not only will you cut back on calories, drinking plenty of water will help you stay hydrated, shed pounds, curb cravings, and make healthy decisions throughout the day.
Remember, you don’t have to fear the holidays or go into December feeling resigned to weight gain. Yes, you will face extra food temptations, and your calendar will make it harder to find time for exercise this season, but consider it a challenge to head into 2018 as the best version of you possible—healthy, happy, and confident.
The frequency with which you should visit your OBGYN changes with age, and of course when you’re pregnant. It’s also important to note that if you have any concerns regarding your health, or any changes in your health, you can and should make a non-routine appointment to visit your OBGYN at any time. Outside of health concerns, what follows are general guidelines for how often you should see your OBGYN.
Women Under Age 21
Women under age 21 are encouraged to meet with their gynecologist to ensure they have a resource for any questions or concerns. It is not, however, required for women under age 21to receive an annual pelvic exam and/or pap smear unless otherwise recommended by their physician.
Women Ages 21 – 29
In general, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that all women over 21 and under 29 should see their OBGYN annually in order to have a pelvic exam. In addition, this annual well woman’s visit should include a general women’s wellness exam, breast exam, and a pap smear.
Women Ages 30 – 65
Women between the ages of 30 and 65 should also receive a pelvic exam every year, however as of 2012 the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, American Cancer Society, and ACOG recommend that women ages 30 – 65 who have had negative pap test results in the past should have a combination pap and human papillomavirus (HPV) test only once every five years.
If within the last three years of turning 30, you’ve had an abnormal pap smear, a history of dysplasia, are HIV positive, or have been exposed before birth to diethylstilbestrol (a synthetic form of estrogen sometimes prescribed to pregnant women between 1940 and 1971), your gynecologist may still recommend that you receive a pap smear more frequently than once every two years.
Women Over Age 65
Women over age 65 without a history of precancerous cells or cervical cancer, and who have had either three-consecutive negative pap test results or two consecutive negative pap/HPV tests within the previous 10 years, do not need to continue receiving regular pap tests, as long as they have no history of precancerous cells or cervical cancer.
Women Who Have Had a Hysterectomy
Women who have had a hysterectomy and no longer have a cervix do not need to have regular pap tests, unless they’ve had precancerous cells in the cervix or a reproductive cancer, such as uterine cancer, in the past.
Sexually Active Women
While the guidelines above are general recommendations, it is also a best practice that women begin regularly seeing their gynecologist when they become sexually active, or at least within two to three years of becoming sexually active.
When You Should Schedule a Non-Routine Appointment
You can always contact your gynecologist for questions or concerns. You should definitely schedule a non-routine appointment if you experience any of the following:
- Vaginal pain or discomfort
- Abnormal or irregular bleeding not associated with your period
- Changes in your menstrual cycle that could be an indication of pregnancy or the onset of menopause
If You’re Pregnant
In general, women who are pregnant should meet with their OBGYN with the following frequency:
- Weeks 4 to 28: 1 prenatal visit a month
- Weeks 28 to 36: 1 prenatal visit every 2 weeks
- Weeks 36 to 40: 1 prenatal visit every week
If you have any risk factors associated with your pregnancy, your OBGYN may recommend more frequent visits.
Remember that your annual exam is also your time to discuss with your gynecologist any questions or concerns that you may have regarding stress, pregnancy or family planning, or any other related concerns or questions. As the recommendations, relative to the frequency of women’s health visits are continually being reexamined, always check with your doctor for the latest criteria.
If you are looking for a new Ob-Gyn physician and live in the Western New York area, give our office a call today. We are accepting new patients!
If you’re like thousands if not millions of Americans, you make New Year’s resolutions. And chances are, at least one of those resolutions has something to do with improving your health. Good for you! You only get one body in this lifetime, so taking care of it is important. Here’s how to succeed at keeping your resolutions:
1. Write them down
Research has proved that people who write down their goals are more likely to achieve success. Break down your main goal—to lose weight, to eat better—into manageable steps. You can also break it down by time: monthly, weekly or daily.
2. Start small, then go big
So many people fail at their weight loss or healthy eating goals because they try to go from couch potato to marathon runner in January or give up everything they like to eat nothing but salad. Instead, start teaching yourself new habits one step at a time. Start off with something easy, like a 15-minute walk around the block. Once you’ve accomplished that, kick it up a notch. Keep going until you’re at the level of fitness you wanted to achieve. As for food, don’t think of anything as “bad” or “wrong.” Just remember that food is fuel, and plan to fuel yourself with healthier options.
3. Pay ahead of time
If you decide to take a workout class or join a gym, pay in advance. Once you’ve handed over the money, it’s harder to justify not going.
4. Plan your meals, snacks and drinks
Instead of deciding at the last minute what you’ll eat and drink all day, come up with a plan for healthy eating for the week and shop accordingly. Pack lunches to bring to work, or decide ahead of time what you’ll order from a nearby restaurant. And you’ll be less inclined to visit the vending machines at work if you have a variety of healthier snacks to choose from.
5. Do it now (whenever now is)
Instead of saying you’ll start tomorrow, do something good for yourself now. Drink an extra glass of water, reach for a healthy snack, take yourself out for a walk or run, or take 20 minutes to yourself to relax and read. Little changes add up.
6. Remember you’re human.
Instead of dwelling on slip-ups, be kind to yourself. Vow to get back on track instead of letting one unhealthy decision derail your progress.
What are your goals for better health in 2015? Share them below! And if you’re looking for an OB-GYN team that makes your health a priority and helps you achieve your goals, call Chouchani, Sayegh and Bagnarello and make an appointment. We are accepting new patients. And if you’re looking for more healthy tips for women, check out the patient education section of our website.
This month, you’ll see hearts everywhere in celebration of Valentine’s Day. Have you ever stopped to consider whether you’re taking care of your own heart? While February 14th only comes once a year, you can boost your own heart’s health 365 days a year with these five tips:
1. Find activities you love
Maybe you’ve always thought that making exercise a regular part of your life means sweating it out for hours at the gym. But activities like walking, dancing in your living room, swimming, bowling and even cleaning the house can count as exercise as long as you’re getting a little out of breath when you’re doing them.
Make a list of all of the active things you like to do and find a way to make at least one of them a part of your day, every day. Once you’ve made those activities into regular habits, try new ones—maybe now you’d feel more confident joining an exercise or dance class.
2. Remember the power of 10
You may think you don’t have time to exercise, but you can get heart-health benefits from just 10-minute bouts of activity. For example, ten minutes of walking three times a day has been shown to lower blood pressure more effectively than a one 30-minute stretch of walking. Try a simple schedule of walking once before work, once over lunch and once after dinner, and you’ve just squeezed in a good amount of exercise!
3. Add something other than cardio
When you think of heart-healthy exercise, you probably think of aerobic or cardiovascular activities like jogging. But strength training, like lifting weights or doing push-ups and lunges can improve the health of your ticker, too. When you lift weights at a moderate intensity, you’ll raise your heart rate—you’ll be working both your muscular system and your cardiovascular system. And when you make your muscles stronger, you make your entire body stronger. So try to do some resistance training a few times a week.
4. Find ways to lower your stress level
Stress plays a critical role in heart health, and exercise is great at kicking stress to the curb. Workouts like yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi are especially good for de-stressing and improving the mind-body connection. If you’re not ready to try those activities, try meditation or just a relaxing hot bath with some soft music playing. It’s important to give your heart a break from the stresses of your regular lifestyle.
5. Eat healthy foods
Of course you have to fuel yourself right to power yourself through your day and your workouts. Eating a diet that’s rich in fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats is key. Colorful foods like pomegranates, blueberries, tomatoes, and spinach are rich in heart-healthy antioxidants, while fatty fish like salmon, sardines, or rainbow trout twice a week provide omega-3 fatty acids, which help decrease your blood pressure.
At Chouchani, Sayegh and Bagnarello, we promote a patient’s total health. If you’d like to find out more about our OB-GYN practice in Buffalo, call us anytime or visit our website at wny-obgyn.com.
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.