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Wagner: Don't avoid holiday treats; make a deal

One of my favorite memories of the holidays is a gathering with friends earlier this decade. After my mother, and then grandmother, died, the holidays just didn't have the same sentimental meaning that seems to come with Thanksgiving and Christma...

One of my favorite memories of the holidays is a gathering with friends earlier this decade.

After my mother, and then grandmother, died, the holidays just didn't have the same sentimental meaning that seems to come with Thanksgiving and Christmas.

But, some friends adopted me for the holidays because they knew those special occasions - often spent with family - were difficult for me.

One time, after taking a scoop of a dessert, I promptly asked what was in the nut salad.

Nut salad? They burst out in laughter at my inability to distinguish the crunchy bits in the holiday staple at their home.

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Turns out, those weren't nuts. They were fudge stripe cookies, mixed in a whipped topping with mandarin oranges.

For several years, I swear they made more of the dessert because they knew that I'd be coming over.

So what does "nut salad" have to do with running?

Quite a bit, actually.

During my runs with friends, I frequently find myself talking about food. It serves as a bit of motivation for me, and if it bothers others, they haven't let on.

I've been known to ramble on about pancakes, french toast and cinnamon rolls - or whatever treat I'm planning to reward myself after a grueling workout or long run.

In the summer, it seems like my thoughts turn to cheeseburgers, especially after a race.

But going into the holiday stretch, it is easy to get carried away. It's easy to load up the plate, or go back to the refrigerator to pick away at leftovers, because we're blessed with so many great-tasting treats.

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It's tempting to go back for second helpings of turkey, gravy, potatoes and stuffing, or grab a third or fourth piece of fudge.

Ignore the cliché that you are what you eat, and don't feel guilty about enjoying the tastes of the holidays.

Instead, make yourself a deal.

Keep with your running routine and practice a little moderation. Both can go a long way in staving off unwanted pounds this holiday season.

Consider those special moments with family and friends as a reward for staying active and committing to a healthy lifestyle.

If you find it difficult to keep running, try some creative ways to cross train. A short, but intense workout, can burn calories quickly.

And consider that parking spot, two blocks from the store you're going to, as a blessing. It's another way to burn a few extra calories.

Forum News Director Steve Wagner writes a running blog, which can be found at www.areavoices.com/runningspud .

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He can be reached at (701) 241-5542 or swagner@forumcomm.com .

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