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Halloween fitness tips…

October 31, 2009

Those of you who know me, know that I am a huge fan of celebrations.  I think that allowing ourselves times to enjoy celebrations with cakes, cookies and of course the greatest candy celebration known to mankind, Halloween, is part of what living is about.  After all, we don’t want to get fit so we can live in a drab colorless world.  If I thought that was what you had ahead of you, I would recommend not even trying.

What you have ahead of you in the world of being fit is going to give you back a lot more pleasure than you are losing.  You will eat A LOT less candy than you currently do, and a lot less of a number of pleasurable foods.  The thing is, you won’t be entirely giving them up.  Everything in moderation is a pretty good mantra for life (as opposed to that other mantra I lived by, if one is good, two is better 😉

As well, the last thing you want to become is a fitness freak.  It probably is a poor match for you and your friends will hate it (and shortly you too).  It really is annoying.  People aren’t going to want to hear about how many calories are in a mini-O’Henry over and over again.  I am hearing all sorts of tips about what you should give out instead of candy, and I say screw that!  What kind of person doesn’t give out candy.  It is halloween!  Fit people can stay fit and eat candy on halloween.  Just teach your kids to only eat candy at celebrations and special days.  So avoid getting your house TP’ed, making enemies in your neighborhood, and becoming the hated family on the block along with the dentist on the corner who gives out toothbrushes.  You live in this community too.

So here are my halloween tips. If you have kids you know how much candy you can end up with.  I live at the epicenter of a perfect candy gathering storm: Small city sized lots, flat terrain, competition between neighbors to out do each other.  This has now grown to have families with tents and candy stations at the street.  The kids don’t even need to go up the driveways.  The number of houses the laziest child can tackle in our neighbourhood is mind boggling.

Tip#1: Don’t trade your kids candy.  If there are things they don’t like, they are very likely to trade with friends or with you if you have left over candy at the door.  Don’t let them.  What I have done to prevent this is offered to buy their candy off of them.  I decide in advance how much I am going to give them for candy, and then just sort of work out the value per piece.  I tend to go to about $5 tops.  I start at giving them about $3 for the bulk of their candy.  They always come up with more items to trade, so somewhere between 5 and 10 cents a piece tends to do the job.  As well, an even better idea would be to give them a gift certificate at the local Michaels or Chapters/Borders.  That way they won’t get candy with their money.  This could almost half their quantity of candy.

Tip#2: Run a candy drive at school.  Our school has a candy drive for less fortunate kids.  I think this is the stupidest idea I have ever heard of.  I am not sure why dumping unwanted halloween candy on poor kids is a good thing…  In any case, have some of the parents get together and give money to a charity (or stickers to the kids, or stars) based on the amount of weight of candy gathered, or number of bags of candy or whatever.  This way the kids can give in their uneaten candy and feel good about it at the same time.  If you can’t get a group to support this, try it in your own house.  Personally I would just throw the candy away after you have gathered it, but you could try saving it and giving it out next halloween.  I have no idea how long candy stays good for, but I would think a year might not be out of the question.

Tip #3: I don’t know if it is a better idea to have your kids save their candy and dole it out to themselves one piece per day, or whether it is better to watch them get sick stuffing their faces over the course of a week.  There is an argument either way.  Showing discipline and eating the candy slowly distributes the ridiculous amount of bad calories out over the entire year.   Eating it right away means that you are candy free for most of the year.  Eating candy every day for a year may increase your likelihood of needing candy and sweets to make yourself feel good all the time.  Stuffing yourself is tremendously unhealthy and may lead to feeling better through bingeing.  Neither scenario is awesome.  You could create a rule about limiting your candy per day and setting a cut-off date to not have any halloween candy after.  You could combine this with tip 2 above and set the charity day to be the last day of the Halloween period.  This will also teach them to not just eat bad food because they have it (As a kid I would end up eating the candy corn when I ran out of candy, and I hated candy corn).  They will learn to eat the stuff that is the most worth it to them.  A skill that we so need in life.  How many times have you eaten a pretty bad tasting muffin or lemon loaf just because it was in front of you.

Tip #4:  Set up a group party.  What time would you normally trick or treat to?  8?  9?  Whatever time it is, cut an hour off of it (or half and hour or whatever), just shorten it up.  Set up a party with friends of the family back at your house, or rotate it amongst neighbors families.  Try to have a reason why everyone wants to get their early or at least on time.  Fireworks?  Costume contest?  Haunted house?  Whatever it is, the less time your kids have to collect candy, the less candy your kids have,  the less candy they can eat.  As well, you can have a relatively healthy party and celebration to mark Halloween by.  This could become a great tradition and teach kids some of the other reasons, beyond candy, why halloween rules!

In closing, enjoy your celebrations.  Find ways to create win-win scenarios and lessons for your family.  Inform them about the problems with candy and sugar and why they should eat it in moderation and only at times of celebration.  It will make celebrations all the more exciting.  Be sure to reward your kids with making the right choices by giving them plenty of praise.  When they choose healthier foods, or donate candy for charity they are making excellent choices.  Lessons are being learned right here, the most important lessons in life.  You have the opportunity to prevent them from having the problems that you have.  Right here, right now.  This is the most important roel that you have in getting fit.  By making these choices now in life you are giving them the tools that they need later in life.  These are the tools that you probably didn’t have.

Finally, don’t be afraid to show your weaknesses and ask for help.  My kids know my weakness for Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and Malteasers.  The kids will help me make the right choices and this also teaches them to seek out the support from people who want the best for you, and give them the opportunity to understand responsibility.  There are opportunities for lessons all around us, we just need to take advantage of them.

Take Care and have an awesome Halloween!  Oh and my  finaltip for you (not for your kids)

Tip #5: Throw away all candy right before you go to bed tonight.  All of it.  Soak it in water first or rip open the packages.  If you have gorged yourself on candy this should be easy.  Even if it isn’t, make sure there is no candy in your house when the sun comes up.  Halloween is over!  This way you will have rocked through halloween with little impact on your fitness.

M.

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