'Tis The Season For Over-Eating

Christmas cookies
During the holiday season, we're all faced with a dizzying array of fattening foods. And unfortunately, working out often takes a backseat to parties, shopping and cooking.

This combo of more calories and less exercise results in many people gaining weight between Thanksgiving and the New Year. We asked Petra Kolber, of Health magazine, to help us avoid packing on the pounds.

Not surprisingly, Petra says moderation is the key to avoiding weight gain. Enjoy the party, but keep these tips in mind:

  • Eat Before You Go: Before heading out to a party or shopping excursion, eat a small salad or a healthy snack. If you show up hungry, you're more likely to pig out.
  • Pick Your Battles: "Ask yourself on a scale of one to ten, how much do you really want that piece of chocolate log," Petra explained. "If Aunt Susie only makes it once a year, I say go for it. However, if it's a snack or sweet that is available all year round, you may want to pass it up in favor of other holiday treats."
  • Try a Sample Tasting: Promise yourself that you're going to taste only five or six interesting dishes, not some of everything. Or, eat what you want, but only take half of your usual portion.

The other half of the battle, of course, is fitting exercise into your busy holiday schedule. Petra notes that even 15 or 20 minutes of exercise will benefit you. So, scale back rather than giving up your usual program.

Here are her tips in for fitting a few minutes for exercise into your day:

  • Plug in time to exercise first thing in the morning. You won't get to 10 p.m. and realize you never got around to it.
  • Use the 20-20-20 rule. When you sit down to relax in front of the TV this season, don't flip channels during commercials. Instead, use those four minutes to do 20 sit-ups, 20 push-ups and 20 squats. If you do this during every commercial break, you'll wind up working pretty hard!

Working out at home has the added bonuses of being cheap and warm.