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Doug Miller, associate professor and chair of Atmospheric Sciences, works with students preparing equipment to track rainfall and snowfall levels in the Western North Carolina mountains.

Tips on staying fit through the winter

By Katie Rozycki ’07

Wintertime brings with it the joy of holiday gatherings and time shared with family and friends. For many, it also brings the unfortunate side effect of a few extra pounds.

Dominique Ennis, UNC Asheville's assistant director of Campus Recreation, has the skinny on holiday weight gain and ways to prevent it.

"From September through January, there is a holiday every month that tempts people to overindulge: Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's," she said. "The hard work people invested keeping fit earlier in the year can be quickly eliminated in about five months."

Even Ennis, who oversees recreation and fitness programming at UNC Asheville, admits she's not immune from overindulging. But she tries to uphold her own fitness goals and also offers a few tricks for staying svelte while enjoying holiday cheer.

First, she recommends consuming a small meal or snack every two to three hours. "This trains your body to expect food at a set time as opposed to starving it, then overeating when you do get a chance to eat," said Ennis.

We may think we're hungry when the real culprit is thirst, according to Ennis. She advises drinking a glass of water before sitting down for a meal or heading to a party.

We all know how stressful the holidays can be. Exercise is a great stress reliever."

"And remember to pace yourself—it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to signal to your brain that it's full," said Ennis. "Moderation is key, so pay attention to what you're putting on your plate."
Wintertime exercise is also tough, admits Ennis. With chilly weather and early sunsets, it's difficult to remain active to make up for decadent holiday meals.

"When it starts getting dark at 5 p.m., it's hard not to want to go home immediately after work," she said. However, Ennis recommends planning ahead, scheduling time for a workout and using the buddy system.

"It's easy to make excuses when you're not prepared," said Ennis. She advises packing gym clothes the evening before work, just as you would your lunch. She also encourages finding a like-minded exercise partner with a similar schedule and fitness level.

"The buddy system is a great way to hold yourself accountable, because someone else is depending on you," said Ennis.

Different workout formats and exercise classes are the key to staying motivated while alleviating boredom and preventing a fitness plateau, according to Ennis: "I might use the treadmill two days a week and then take a boot camp class, a Zumba [Latin-inspired aerobics] class, and then make sure I lift weights about three times a week."

Staying active may also prevent holiday-induced hysteria. "We all know how stressful the holidays can be," said Ennis. "Exercise is a great stress reliever."

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