Take strides toward keeping healthy holiday habits

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - When Ron Burton was faced with health issues, he learned to walk away from them - literally!

"High cholesterol and high blood sugar really kinda scared me because, as you get older, you see all those numbers and you're, 'Well, I need to do something.' Something's wrong. I need to do something," he said. "I need to fix it so I could be healthy, so I could be there for my kids in the future."

Four years ago, Ron's weight had crept above 250 pounds. He tried fad diets before landing at the Cotton O'Neil Weight Management Center, where he finally learned the trick.

"It's a whole lifestyle change," he said.

But sticking to healthy habits can be tough around the holidays! Studies show most people will gain one to two pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years - and won't take it off. Stephanie Sisk, APRN, who is program director for the Cotton O'Neil Weight Management Center, said that may not seem like a lot for one year, but over five to 10 years, it adds up.

She says December is a month filled with temptation.

"You have a lot of your favorite foods, a lot of comfortable foods, comfort eating and so you're stressed and then you have that on top of it," Sisk said.

Sisk says look at December as a month to maintain your weight, rather than lose pounds. She says setting unrealistic goals sets you up for failure, which can lead to frustration and throwing all healthy habits aside. You don't need to avoid all the treats, just practice moderation.

"We still want to have the cookies but maybe send all the leftovers out with other family members or to neighbors," Sisk said. "Another tip is when you're at a pot luck party or a dinner party, we definitely want to fill up half your plate with lower-calorie items like your meat and veggies and salad, and then fill up half the plate with all the things that you love, all your favorites. You're still going to get everything that you want, but you're going to cut back on some of the calories that add up."

If you're the host, offer healthy options, and swap in ingredients like low-fat, low-sodium sour cream or soups and artificial sweeteners. As for exercise? Schedule it like a meeting, or get an activity tracker to keep yourself honest.

"It's setting little goals like that where it's in moderation," Sisk said.

Ron says he plans ahead by avoiding treats if he knows a party is on the calendar. Plus, he keeps moving. He's even started a "Walking with Ron" Facebook group so others can join him.

"It not only keeps me motivated because now I have to be there because all these people are going to come, but it let's them walk in a safe atmosphere and come join other people who want to do the same thing," Ron said.

Ron's weight is now below 200 and all his numbers are back to normal. Walking away from bad habits made big strides toward better health.

"Think of this as a marathon," he said. "You've got to start out and you just got to keep going. You didn't get this way in a day so it's going to take longer than a day to fix it."

Talk to your doctor. Insurance may help cover costs of a weight management program if your BMI is above a certain level, or if you have weight-related health issues.