Holiday Eating

Eating healthy food and avoiding weight gain during the holidays can be a challenge.

If you are doing the cooking, try these healthy substitutions:

  • When baking with butter, margarine, shortening or oil, substitute half the amount called for with apple sauce or prune puree.
  • Cook with chicken broth or canola oil instead of butter.
  • Substitute two egg whites or 1/4 cup of egg substitute for a whole egg
  • For fruit canned in heavy syrup, substitute fruit canned in its own juices or water, or fresh fruit.
  • When using any dairy, look for the lower fat option, substitute yogurt for sour cream
  • For ground beef, substitute extra-lean or lean ground beef, chicken or turkey.
  • Instead of regular mayonnaise or salad dressing, use reduced-calorie mayonnaise and salad dressings.
  • Use low-sodium or reduced-sodium versions of any soups, sauces, dressings or crackers or canned meat, fish or veggies.
  • Replace regular table salt with herbs, spices, or salt-free seasoning mixes or herb blends.
  • Try using whole-wheat or whole-grain bread, rice and pasta.
  • When baking, replace 1/2 the white flour with whole-wheat flour.

Avoid overeating at the company party. Plan ahead!

  • Eat a snack before the party to avoid facing all that delicious holiday food on an empty stomach.
  • Exercise earlier in the day and burn off some of those calories in advance.
  • Identify some favorite foods and plan ahead to indulge in a few of those items while filling up mostly on raw veggies and other, lighter items.
  • Drink plenty of water. Often you feel hungrier if you are thirsty. Also, avoid the alcoholic beverages – they encourage you to munch as you are uninhibited.
  • Find a coworker who also wants to avoid that holiday weight gain and agree to help one another resist temptation.

Don’t over do it at a big dinner. Avoid overeating by:

  • Drinking plenty of water during the festivities to keep feeling full.
  • Try to concentrate on non-food activities. Watch the big football game, catch up with cousins from out of town or play a game of chase with the kids in the backyard.
  • Bring a lighter holiday recipe to the event to introduce family to the idea.
  • Fill up on the lighter and healthier items on the buffet table. Pick pretzels instead of chips, fruit rather than heavy desserts and grilled or baked meats instead of fried items.
  • Use the smallest available plate to avoid piling up large portions of anything.
  • Don’t go back for seconds.
  • Politely refuse to take home leftovers, especially of rich, fattening holiday food.

Most likely we’ll all indulge a little. Don’t feel guilty. Keep up with your exercise routine to burn off some of the extra calories consumed. If you aren’t already exercising consider trying to add a 30-minute walk to your schedule, even if it’s only three days a week. With a little planning and a few smart recipe tips, healthy holiday eating doesn’t have to be outside your grasp.

Is no pain, no gain really true when it comes to exercise?


“When people start to exercise, there may be some muscle aches and pains, which are normal. But there are other aches and pains, such as joint pain, bone pain, muscle strains, and ligament or tendon strains, which are bad, and you should back off of because they’ll get worse if you ignore them.”

So start slow.

Always ease into an exercise plan to avoid injury. The recommendation is if you’re healthy, you can start exercising. Remember to start slow to avoid injury.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends starting an exercise program slowly and listening to your body and to your doctor.

So with resolutions this year, set realistic goals, have fun, but above all else, listen to your body rather than ignoring it and pushing through the pain.

2011 YMCA Peace Medal Recipients

On Wednesday, November 23, our inspiring group of nominees were honoured at this year’s YMCA Peace Medal awards.  And the 2011 Peace Medal recipients are…

Humanitarian – Leor Rotchild

When Leor moved to Calgary ten years ago, he was enticed by the city’s potential of making a positive impact on the world stage. Leor began getting involved in an array of different issues. Today, he remains firmly rooted with a hand in multiple projects that covers many issues including corporate responsibility, environmental sustainability and civic engagement.

The numerous initiatives Leor has been involved in have made a profound impact on Calgarians, Canadians and even citizens of the world. His work in corporate responsibility has helped large influential organizations reflect on their impact on the community.

“What I’ve realized is that there are people all over the place doing all kinds of inspiring work, says Leor.  “When you do get started, you connect with these people and you realize there’s so much strength in numbers.”

Among his many projects, Leor helped reduce the environmental footprint at the Calgary Folk Music Festival. He has grown the Folk Festival’s Environment Program to reduce the festival’s total waste by 75% while diverting 58% of that away from the landfill through a sophisticated recycling and composting program.  Leor took the program one step further and eliminated bottled water at the festival.

Leor is also the co-founder of the Marda Loop Justice Film Festival. The festival showcases documentaries from around the world involving social justice and environment.

“My advice to people is just start somewhere, whether it’s internally, within the community or somewhere around the world, says Leor. “You can do something and make a difference. The beautiful thing is it makes your community better, and it makes yourself better.”

Leor Rotchild embodies peace and commitment to others in his everyday life. Leor reminds us that no issue is too large to tackle.

Community Group – Push to Open Nature Society

Push to Open Nature Society is a diverse group of people who provide the tools, kindness, and compassion needed to make inclusion for people with disabilities in all Alberta parks.  Together with volunteers, they hosts many outdoor adventures including hiking, kayaking and exploring the forest.

“Nature doesn’t have any building codes,” says Don Carruthers Den Hoed. “You can’t change how steep a mountain is or what the weather is going to do but with teamwork, creativity, passion and patience, you can make anything accessible and barrier free.”

Push to Open Nature Society helps people with disabilities feel like they can do various outdoor activities with their friends, family, co-workers, or even on their own.

“As a mother of two young ladies with disabilities, the first time I came out to one of these events, I was truly changed, says Sheila Crabbe. “It was the first time I’ve seen true inclusion and since then, what I strive for in the lives of my children has changed.

Push to Open Nature Society reminds people that they do not need to let their disabilities define or deny them the chance to live life to the fullest.

Community Individual – Gerald Wheatley

Gerald has worked tirelessly in the community of Sunnyside and across the city of Calgary in bringing people together to try new ways of recovering citizenship and sustainable living. Through many organizations, he is challenging citizens and elected officials to act responsibly on new knowledge related to social issues, environmental integrity and long term economic well being.

“Calgary’s in a position to change so quickly over the next few years, says Gerald. “It’s a really exciting time to be more sustainable.”

He has contributed to extraordinary at the Arusha Centre and on programs such as Calgary Carsharing, Calgary Dollars, the Coalition for a Healthy Calgary, Public Interest Alberta, and the Old Y Centre.  In addition, Gerald has developed a bioregional curriculum for Calgary schools.

“When I was in high school, we had a youth action group and we only had one rule – If you’re going to complain about something, you have to get involved in solving it,” says Gerald.

Gerald Wheatley is passionate about creating positive change in his community and will continue to strive for success in sustainability and environmental integrity.

Community Youth – Diversity and Student for Change Council at Bob Edwards Junior High School

Diversity and Student for Change Council began when teachers and students identified troubling issues in their school and community around a glaring lack of inclusion and respect for diversity. The Diversity Council is run by students for students, and raises funds and awareness for a variety of justice causes. As active and responsible citizens, the students have been role models for their school’s remaining student body and the rest of their community.

“It really opened my eyes to everything around me and in my community, says Sophia, a participant in Diversity and Student for Change Council. “ I realized that I can anything if I put my mind to it.”

The students have been involved in many events ranging from supporting anti-bullying days to organizing lunchtime speakers and a school-wide full-day conference where community facilitators are invited to teach students about issues around diversity and peace, to fundraising for the victims of natural disasters in Haiti or Japan and sponsoring a Plan Canada child in Honduras.

“No matter who you are or where you live, you always need to remember to stand up for what you believe in, stand up for your rights and stand up just for yourself” says Shelby, a participant in Diversity and Student for Change Council.

Although the students come from diverse backgrounds, they share common goals, and that is to build their communities, increase respect for diversity and raise awareness for a variety of justice causes.  This group teaches children and youth that you are never too young to make a difference.

International Group – The Institute of Rural Education and Development

During a three year work assignment in Chitral, Pakistan, Aly Nanji saw it was absolutely apparent that a change was put in place to better the lives of children and adults. IREAD’s best solution to the problems of poverty, ignorance and hopelessness was to start with the younger children and give them the best possible education.

“Visiting the villages we found that people were leading a very poor lifestyle, said Aly Nanji. “They were badly situated in the sense that there were no schools and there was no hope for the children.”

The Institute of Rural Education and Development was formed in 2009 by Aly Nanji and Dr. Noorali Jaffer to advance education in the developing world by establishing and operating Early Childhood Education Centres in the remote regions of the Chitral District in Pakistan.

“The impact to me is that I had tears in my eyes because these people are so thankful for what you’re doing,” said Dr Nooralli Jaffer.  “That basically sealed the deal that I was coming back and I was going to help build schools.”

IREAD has worked on numerous projects and all with the same goals in mind – long term sustainability, advancement in education and a safe and healthy place for children to grow and learn. Aside from building Early Childhood Centres and training teachers, IREAD has also sponsored 64 students to begin schooling at the High School level.

IREAD wants to give young boys and girls hope and support to finish their High School education and pursue careers and a better life.

With future goals of expanding across the world, IREAD wishes to bring hope, stability and peace in the much needed areas of the third world.

International Individual – Sean Krausert

Sean Krausert has been active in many conflict resolution and social justice initiatives for the last 15 years.  In 2011, Sean Krausert decided to take his advocacy for peace and social justice to a whole new level.  That Poverty Project was launched and created with the goal of engaging as many people as possible in the task of ending poverty in Canada and around the world.

“There will always be situations where people experience trauma, disaster, hard luck, poor choices and fall into an in poverty-like situation,” says Sean.  “However, there is no reason that anyone should have to stay there.”

That Poverty Project involves three self-sacrificing phases in which Sean will experience what it is like to be homeless, struggle with low income and be subjected to hunger.

Through social media and blogging about That Poverty Project, Sean has been able to communicate with thousands of people in developing a better understanding and awareness about poverty.

Sean believes that through engagement of many people, we can end poverty in Canada and around the world, and will therefore produce a healthier and more peaceful world for all.

“To me, peace is everyone, everywhere having their basic human rights satisfied. Enough food, and water, and shelter, access to health, access to education and proper sanitation,” says Sean. “Peace is also about compassion. With compassion we meet those needs, we can collaborate well and with compassion, we can bring about peace.”

International Youth – Jocelyn Davis

Jocelyn Davis is a passionate youth who takes her civic responsibilities very seriously. Her efforts along with her consistent message that youth can be empowered to make enormous contributions to social issues have been successful domestically and on an international scale.

“The conditions that people in some of the poorest countries live in often go unnoticed,” says Jocelyn.

Jocelyn co-started The 8th Rung as a youth-driven organization. The 8th Rung’s primary focus is youth empowerment to create sustainable change in international development. Jocelyn’s team raised money to fund water systems in Asia by partnering with the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology. This resulted in nearly 45,000 people having permanent access to clean drinking water in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand.

Initially partnering with Light Up the World to install solar lighting to reduce gorilla poaching in Africa, The 8th Rung is collaborating with the Captain Nicola Goddard Foundation to install solar lighting on remote hilltops for first aid and birthing stations in the mountain forests of Papua New Guinea. This project alone is estimated to be assisting more than 130,000 people.

In addition, Jocelyn is a strong advocate for the unique approach she has developed that models partnerships with corporations and adult philanthropists to create stretch targets for youth.

“Peace means a lot more than the lack of conflict, says Jocelyn. “Knowing that you’re not going to have contaminated water, knowing that a snake isn’t going to bite you, knowing that you’re making a difference in the world, all of that brings peace of mind and being at peace with yourself.”

YMCA Staff – Jill Jamieson

Jill Jamieson is the general manager at Camp Chief Hector YMCA where she mentors a dedicated and caring team.  She strengthens relationships with wild life associations and conservation officers in her dedication to reducing our environmental footprint.

“What I teach all young staff when they come to camp is a sense of individual growth, whether it’s body, mind or spirit and a sense of growth in community.”

Jill leads the YMCA Calgary Association Green Team where she takes steps to help YMCA Calgary further sustainability practices. Jill spearheaded various green initiatives at Camp Chief Hector YMCA including a community gardening project, reducing water usage, facilitating Federal Eco-Intern project, and implementing recycling and composting.

“Peace means a lot of things and one of the things that it brings to mind is opportunity, says Jill. “There are no barriers to opportunity for what a person wants to do or create in their life.”

Jill embodies peace into her daily life. She is able to create a peaceful and welcoming environment at Camp Chief Hector YMCA.

View the inspiring videos of all the YMCA Peace Medals recipients.

Congratulations to all nominees and recipients and thank you for spreading peace in our world and making it better place for all.