JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Maintaining a healthy intake of calories and still enjoying food during the holiday season of tailgating, family and “stuffing,” can be a daunting task. Putting on extra pounds can make passing a physical fitness test seem like trying to outrun a reindeer. In the spirit of giving, here are a few suggestions from health experts to help maintain that “beach bod” you have worked so hard for.<br /> <br /> First, read the labels of the food you eat. This is important because the nutritional facts tell you the suggested serving size, and its ingredients. <br /> <br /> “Reading labels gives you an idea of what’s actually in the food product, not what’s advertised,” said Lynn Larson, a nurse educator at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Army Wellness Center. “My rule of thumb is if you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t be putting it in your body.”<br /> <br /> Larson also said it’s important to pay attention to labels because, many times foods may advertise low fat but have so much sugar they still are high in calories.<br /> <br /> Reading labels can also help you plan healthy, filling meals.<br /> <br /> “When you first read a label you need to know what you’re looking for,” said Arianne McConchie, a health educator also at the Wellness Center. “You want to start with serving sizes, because that affects the rest of the label. After you find the serving size, look at the calories and see how many there are.” <br /> <br /> Food companies base a serving size on 2,000 calories a day. Based on a person’s basal metabolic rate (the rate the body uses energy while at rest) a person’s caloric intake may change. Taking in more calories than you need leads to weight gain.<br /> <br /> On the flip side, it’s not wise to limit calorie intake too much. The body needs a certain amount of calories to keep functioning. <br /> <br /> According McConchie not getting enough calories can slow your metabolism, which will affect the way you use, and store energy. <br /> If you are calorie conscience, you might want to take the time to develop a food journal. This also helps people from indulging in too much of a good thing. <br /> <br /> My second piece of advice for staying healthy during the season is not over eating. Even though you may see a lot of food in front of you, eating yourself into a food coma is a bad idea. <br /> <br /> Larson believes the best course of action is planning your meals beforehand, and drinking lots of water. This will help not get a belly that shakes like a “bowl full of jelly.” <br /> <br /> While planning your meals it’s important to include breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day and helps maintain a healthy body. <br /> <br /> “When you wake up your blood glucose is at its very lowest and if you don’t eat anything it drops even further and you get to a point you’re so hungry you’re out of control,” Larson said. <br /> <br /> Developing and maintaining an effective exercise routine that works for you is essential. Diet and exercise go together like peanut butter and jelly or milk and cookies; they are good by themselves but become something almost magical when they come together. <br /> <br /> You can’t rely on eating habits alone, you need to exercise regularly if you want to get in shape and stay healthy.<br /> <br /> “Exercise is so important to keep your overall body healthy,” Larson said. “The more you exercise the higher your metabolic rate, the more you can eat, so, if you are really into eating you are going to want to exercise more.” <br /> <br /> Larson added if you conduct fitness training in the morning it’s important to get some sort of quick energy from something like an apple or banana before working out. You should also eat a good meal with complex carbs and good proteins after the work out.<br /> <br /> Don’t feel you have to go on a crash diet or try a new weight loss fad. Larson said what you need to do, is change your lifestyle to include exercise on a regular basis and to start making healthy choices in your food so that it becomes a lifestyle. You can’t change the things that happen to you in life, what you can change is your perception of it. Perception is everything.<br /> <br /> If you are having a tough time shedding that winter weight don’t fret. Stay motivated and refer back to the previous steps. If you happen to stumble, a positive attitude will help you get back on track. Feeling sorry for yourself leads to the bottom of a mixing bowl full of tears, regret, failure and cake batter.