The Checklist: How to stay healthy in December

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One of the best ways to avoid gaining weight during the holiday eating season is to ramp up your exercise regimen. Yeah, right.
Chalene Johnson knows it’s hard to squeeze exercise into your December schedule. But she’s convinced that even the most overwhelmed among us can make it happen.
Johnson, creator of TurboFire workout program and author of “Push: 30 Days to Turbocharged Habits, a Bangin’ Body, and the Life You Deserve” (Rodale, 2011), applies “secrets of success” gleaned through observing folks who’ve succeeded in business, marriage and other areas of life to the realm of weight management. Here are her tips for making exercise happen, no matter how busy or tired you are.
Build it into your schedule. Take 10 minutes first thing in the morning or, better yet, the night before to plan. First, schedule the things you absolutely must do, being sure to account for how much time those activities actually will take. Then add your daily exercise. “Treat it with the same dignity and respect you would any other important task,” Johnson says. Make use of the hour before dawn if you can. “Nobody needs you at 5:30 a.m.,” she says.
Whittle your list. Just for December, give yourself permission to drop a few things to make room for exercise. That could mean not volunteering in your kids’ schools, slowing down on the social media or cutting back on housecleaning. You could also outsource tasks such as gift-wrapping or untangling strands of lights.
Make your promise public. Telling people you plan to exercise regularly during the holidays makes you accountable. Enlist a friend (“someone who won’t let you slide”) to join you in person or on Facebook. Or get your office mates to agree to a daily lunchtime walk.
Create a “why” list. “Write down all the reasons why you want to make fitness a priority during the holidays,” Johnson says. Post it where you’ll see it every day. Or create it as a note or calendar item on your cellphone so you’ll have it with you all the time.
Dry skin? Moisturize your air.
Got the winter dry-skin blues? Unfortunately, that moisturizer you’ve been slathering on will only help so much.
“Your skin is 70 percent water,” says Robert Greenberg, a dermatologist practicing in Vernon, Conn. And the dry indoor heat this time of year saps the skin of its moisture.
“Your skin becomes dry because it lacks water, not because it lacks oil,” Greenberg says. Using moisturizers and creams doesn’t really help, he says, unless you apply them right after your shower or bath (or after washing your hands), when you have lots of water in your skin. Moisturizers act as a barrier against evaporating lots of water, but the effectiveness is temporary.
So, is drinking more water the solution? Greenberg says no, adding that dry skin is not a sign of overall dehydration.
The best way to combat dry skin in winter, Greenberg offers, is to “try to change the environment by putting more moisture in the air. Houseplants with lots of water, a humidifier, a pan of water on top of the wood stove” can help a room feel more like summer, he says.

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