December Wellness Corner – Don’t Let Holiday Stress Get You!

Norma LaVecchia, Fitness Expert

Westchester Happening welcomes you to our feature, the Westchester Wellness Corner!  Our guest writer and fitness expert is certified personal trainer, Norma LaVecchia.  Check in once or twice a month, as Norma gives us fitness tips, tidbits on healthy eating, and offers ways in which we can cut back on all the stress in our lives!

I have my list of gifts for the holidays…who wants a video game, Harry Potter Series, a Gucci bag.  Ok the bag is for me but I’m still stressing.  I have to go to another store before I pick up the kids from school.  There is a long line. Here it comes! My shoulders tense and my head starts to pound. …Calgon take me away!  We have all experienced stress.  How can we relieve our stress?  Is being stressed really that bad?

There is such a thing as good stress.  That is the stress that gets your endorphins going.  It’s a rush accompanied by a good feeling. Bad stress is another thing altogether.  According to The American Institute of Stress, there are several effects of stress. Some are hair loss, muscle pain in the neck, shoulders and back, depression, headaches, cardiovascular disease and hypertension, weight gain or loss, just to name a few.    So yes, stress is something you don’t want to accumulate.  The key to reducing stress is to prevent it, but it is often unavoidable and part of life.

There are fun and healthy ways to deSTRESS without looking to food, alcohol or drugs.

Exercise. Exercise. Exercise.  When done properly it can reduce all the bad and increase all the good in your body.  Choose a class that is right for your life style. For example, Yoga or any other stretching class. Will2Lose in Scarsdale has an 8:30am class on Tuesday called Strength and Stretch. It’s a great way to start the morning. The movements are simple and effective and you can also do them at home, on a plane or in your office.

Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. Through yoga you can attain a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility. Doesn’t that sound so peaceful?  Meditation is another great way to reduce stress.  It can be done in your car, at home, in your office, basically anywhere.  The goal of meditation is to change your thoughts from negative to positive and bring peace to your mind.  Yoga and meditation go hand in hand.  A yoga class can teach you how to meditate.  There are also websites that teach techniques on how to think positively.

If that is not quite your speed take a boxing class.  It’s a great way to relieve tension. If you have never boxed or punched a bag I recommend that you take a few lessons with a trained professional.   You wouldn’t want to hurt yourself, especially right before the holidays.

Go for a walk with a friend. The benefits are, you’re not spending money and no crowds, just great conversation. Smiles and laughter are contagious and are a great way to just feel good.

Give yourself time and relax Get a massage. Go to the spa.  If you can do it, go for the day.  Spas have stress-relieving packages. You are worth it.  Ask your significant other for some ” you” time and that mini massage from them and of course return the favo . Ten minutes can make all the difference. And the massage can lead to other stress relieving  activities….wink, wink.

Try the Far Infrared Sauna Therapy.  According to Dr. Vito Dimatteo, the owner of Will2Lose in Scarsdale NY, this particular sauna is an effective and therapeutic way to reduce stress . A few minutes in the gentle warmth of the Far Infrared Sauna reduces stress and fatigue by providing an overall massaging effect that relaxes knotted muscles and rebalances the body’s hormones through its effect on the autonomic nervous system.  The sauna helps to reduce physical stress by boosting circulation and triggering the production of endorphins, “the feel good’ hormones. This stress relief technique has a warm soothing effect and will provide an immediate benefit to tightened and knotted muscles, leaving you feeling refreshed and invigorated.  Not only that but a single session in the detox/weight loss sauna can burn up to 800 calories throughout the day, which is the same as jogging or rowing!! It also helps with controlling the appearance of cellulite. Detoxification occurs by producing 6x more toxin release through sweat than a traditional sauna.

Get at least 7 hours of a good night sleep.  This will help you tackle the day’s stress easier.  If you are tired, you are cranky, easily agitated and not very patient . All of this can lead to stress. If you have trouble sleeping try exercising in the late afternoon.

Eat well. Don’t eat food with lots of empty calories. Eat foods that will keep you healthy and going strong.  Good nutrition includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean sources of protein.  We all know we shouldn’t be eating a double cheeseburger with bacon, French fries and lots of ketchup.  We are always on the run especially during the holidays. Don’t pick up that donut or  go to the fast food drive thru.  Keep healthy snacks around and make time to sit and eat a proper breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Don’t forget to hydrate.  Drink plenty of water.

Norma La Vecchia is a Personal Trainer, Group X-AFAA Certified, and an instructor for ZUMBA (basic, toning, aqua).  Find her at


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