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A New Year, A New You

A local expert tells you how to stay fit without leaving town.

While the past six weeks, from Thanksgiving through New Years Eve, can be a fun time of year, it is also a time of excessive food consumption. Let's face it, temptation is everywhere - at office parties, family dinners, holiday happy hours; you name it. 

Now add to this the additional stress of having too much to do in a very short time period.  Planning the perfect Christmas day while trying to balance work and family responsibilities is stressful and can lead to overeating.

Many Americans pack on an average of about five pounds from the constant celebrating, so if that rings a bell or you just want to start 2010 with a healthy fitness program, keep on reading. 

Eating right and exercising will keep you healthy, energized, and looking your best; and you can start doing so today, right here in Larchmont and Mamaroneck. 

Fortunately, we are part of an active community where almost everyone exercises, so that should keep you motivated. Also, when choosing a physical activity, make sure that you enjoy it and can fit it into your daily routine.   

Here are just some areas to focus on, such as food shopping, exercising and casual dining.  

Shop healthy

Those who live in the area head to our own local treasure: Trader Joe's.

Yes, this is a national chain, but the Larchmont store is conveniently located in a popular shopping area and feels just like home.  Joe's is the place to find healthy items for the creative and price-conscious shopper.  Joe's has its own brand, giving the consumer very economical options. 

You can find most of the foods on your shopping list here, including breads, fresh produce, staples and ready-to-serve frozen items. When watching your weight, checking food labels is key.  Nutritional labeling has come a long way, listing amounts of fat and sodium, in addition to calories, vitamins and minerals. Make a note that these labels calculate per serving, and each serving size can be different. 

Trader Joe's has its own newsletter, an entertaining guide to current shopping, and provides lists to guide you when looking for products that are vegan, vegetarian, kosher, etc.  The Web site has extensive nutritional information.     

Fast (and healthy!) food

You can find a quick meal at Cosi Cafe in Larchmont, where during the day you can order at the register, with no need for tipping.  You can stop in before or after your work-out and sit on their comfortable couches to relax a bit. You can also do take-out. 

Cosi's slogan is "Life should be delicious and healthy."   Most of the entree offerings are prepared right in front of you - even the salads are tossed on the spot - and you can choose from several ingredients.

Today's express dining venues now post calorie counts and offer light menus.  From Cosi's lighter menu, you can choose the signature salad light at 371 calories or the turkey light sandwich at 390 calories.

Remember to stay away from rich gourmet coffees, like a mocha.  These can be expensive, are often served with whipped cream, and have lots of fat and calories.  

You can hydrate with water. 

The bread is also made fresh throughout the day, but the calorie count for even the whole grain bread is over 200 calories.  It is a very large piece, so if you do need that carbohydrate boost, you can eat half and pack up the other half for later. 

Work out locally. Get to know your town

This is an area where most people exercise, so you won't feel lonely. Plus, there is a lot to do.

Here are some options:

1) Get out and take a great, local walk. Regardless of the pace you set, walking is great exercise and, in our community, a visual delight.  The great outdoors is everywhere in our Sound Shore area, and the walking opportunities are endless. 

Take a walk in our own Harbor Island Park.  This is a flat walk with designated paths, which is quite safe and especially sunny at this time of year. 

Generally, walkers enter the harbor at the intersection of Mamaroneck Avenue and Boston Post Road.   For this walk you can try a different turn by adding the new Aquatic Restoration Project, which is a basic wetlands path on the green adjacent to Rushmore and Orienta avenues.

Enter the park from the center of Rushmore, past the playground, and follow the wetlands path with signs posted that give you some interesting eco-facts. It is remarkably sunny at this time of year, and you will pass scenic views and a kayak launch. 

Continue through Harbor Island near Boston Post Road and Orienta Avenue.   You will pass the Coast Guard Headquarters (did you know it was there?), a village senior center and tennis courts as you continue on for spectacular beach views of the Long Island Sound.  If you are able, you can walk out on the two existing piers for a better view.  Circle around back, and you will complete a bit over a 2 mile walk.

For more information contact the Village of Mamaroneck Recreation Department.

2) Drop in Fitness 

Various exercise centers let you choose your class, where you can tailor your exercise program to your schedule, needs and personal choice.  Especially desirable for those who like a flexible schedule, you can purchase a class card where you have the option to "drop-in" at your choice:

One example is the Yoga Sanctuary, which has just moved to a new and updated location on Boston Post Road in Mamaroneck. The Yoga Sanctuary is aesthetically decorated and designed, and is the perfect spot to go at your own pace. Here you can find yoga and pilates classes for different levels, ages and lifestyles.

3) Full service fitness 

Full service fitness clubs are usually on a membership basis with gym equipment, exercise classes, personal fitness and diet instruction, and perhaps a spa facility, cafes with healthy drink and food choices, and a store to buy stylish exercise gear. Some are even open 24 /7.

For ladies who like to exercise in an environment without guys, now there is Healthy Fit for Women, which advertises health and fitness in one place.  This is a supervised setting that helps to make your customized fitness and nutrition programs fun and easy.  Many of you may know this as the former Simply Fit Site on Boston Post Road, near CVS and Lord's Farm.

4) Exercise Classes

There are many choices for organized fitness classes that meet on a regular basis.  Some are offered by the community itself. 

Try Larchmont & Mamaroneck Center for Continuing Education, a not-for-profit organization which became independent from the Mamaroneck School District in 1973, so the prices are really affordable and payment is per session.

So, many classes are offered, including cardio -fitness, yoga, pilates, and the Feldenkrais method.  There are classes for seniors with reduced rates, and most classes are held during the summer as well.

For more info, call 914-698-9126 or visit www.lmcce.org

In the body sculpting field, Jeannine Palermo has many fans in the vicinity. The owner of Fitness Link, she is a fitness instructor and certified personal trainer.To learn how to use free weights to tone your body and to increase muscular strength, endurance and flexibility, contact the Larchmont & Mamaroneck Center for Continuing Education.

Get Professional Help

One of the most sensible, popular weight loss  programs with a long-term track record is Weight Watchers International. This program is highly recommended by health care professionals and the public.  The program works around the core principles of group support,  behavior modification, diet and exercise

Find them at 213 Mamaroneck Ave. or call 1-800-651-6000.

Happy New You and good luck!

Sandy Goodman is a registered dietitian with a Master's Degree in foods and nutrition.   She is married, with two kids, and has lived in the local area for 15 years.

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