Health, Holidays Can be Good ‘Fit'

by Paul Gatling  on Friday, Dec. 7, 2012 8:33 am  

The idea that waistlines expand more during the holidays than any other time of year is, essentially, a myth.

In December 2000, the New England Journal of Medicine published the results of a study examining holiday weight gain. The study, which sampled an admittedly small group of just 195 adults, showed an average weight gain of 0.8 pounds during the six-week period from Thanksgiving through the New Year.

“There is weight gain, but it’s not what we think it is,” said Cindy Moore, a dietitian at the University of Arkansas, and director of the school’s didactic program in dietetics.

In spite of the NEJM findings, the holidays can be a challenging time for those conscious of their eating and fitness habits. From office parties, social occasions and family get-togethers, people are encouraged to indulge, and more opportunities for food and drink can lead to fewer opportunities for exercise.

Moore said a dietitian’s philosophy is always going to be that any food can fit into a healthy diet, so she stopped short of naming foods to avoid during the holidays. One Northwest Arkansas fitness expert took that insight a step further, saying that getting your money’s worth at the corporate holiday luncheon won’t harm a healthy lifestyle.

“It’s all a matter of perspective,” said Monty Mason, a Bentonville-based certified personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. “It needs to be OK to have a regimented fitness and nutrition program, and not feel like you lose a little self-worth if you go off of it. You can eat what you want.

“But a lot of the people I see are what I like to call going from ditch to ditch. It’s either all health kick or all binging on chocolate cake. And that’s not what you want.”

Mason is the owner and operator of CryBox Private Fitness Studio in Bentonville. The business opened in March with a specific clientele in mind — time-constrained business professionals.

“You can get in shape and not spend six or eight hours a week to do it,” he said.

Mason, a Bald Knob native, spent 24 years as a business professional before beginning his second career. He worked in logistics and distribution for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., retiring in 2008 as senior director of pharmacy logistics.

Toward the end of his time with Wal-Mart, he began digging into the study of physical fitness, with an eye on the next chapter of his life.

“I liked the science of fitness so I really started to get into it,” he said.



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