Keep The Weight Off

Here, 7 tips to avoid weight gain this holiday season

Even for people who have good eating and exercise habits, the holidays present a particular challenge. ‘Tis the season’ is often interpreted as a green light to indulge in a dietary free-for-all — which is bad for your health and your waistline. Studies have shown that seasonal weight gain can be significant — as much as 7 – 10 pounds.

But you can still enjoy the holidays without throwing all your good habits out the window. And while the busyness of the season often interferes with exercise time, there are pragmatic ways to curb weight gain.

“There are some practical ways for people to build more activity into the busy holiday season, and also deal with the stress of it,” says Cleo Chmielinski, founder of Avalon Woods, a health club specializing in baby boomers and older adults. (Read an article about Avalon Woods.)

Here are Cleo’s tips to keep the healthy in your holidays:

Shop smart. The pressure to get in and out of the mall to finish up your shopping is even more stressful when combined with jostling for that highly sought after parking spot closest to the door. Why not eliminate the stress of parking spot competition and replace it with a 10 to 15 minute period of brisk activity? Park as far away from the mall as you possibly can. The competition for spots is much less in the overflow, and you’ll add minutes of activity to your day if you make the trek to the mall and back as fast as you can. You’ll receive the extra benefit of increasing the intensity on the return trip if you’re laden with heavy parcels.

Work-out at the mall. Continuing with the mall theme, here’s a tip for husbands or significant others: Instead of sitting in the comfy chair in the dress shop for 20 minutes while she tries on multiple outfits in search of the perfect dress for the company party, use that time for a brisk walk around the mall. If you set your pace at a good clip, you can likely circle back to the store every 3 to 4 minutes, just in time to provide her with your much sought after opinion.

Integrate exercise into the work day. Is juggling a desk job and squeezing in time to prepare for the holidays robbing you of your regular exercise time? Make the most of that heavy laptop or sales presentation binder. Take a few minutes a couple of times a day and hide behind the cubicle wall to do some squats (or deep knee bends) and/or stationary lunges. At the same time, you can lift the laptop or other heavy office tool in many different directions to work your upper body. Lift to the side, up from your shoulders, in a bicep curl, or whatever other movements work for you.

Embrace the wintry weather. Make the most of our Great White North by spending fun time with family outdoors this holiday season. How about building a snowman with the children or grandchildren before dinner? You’ll be the hit of the party with the little ones, and if it’s been a few years, the memories of how much work is involved in snowman construction — rolling and then lifting the torso and head — will come flooding back in a hurry! Take out a few extra carrots; one for the nose, and the rest as a healthy snack to share.

Take an evening stroll. If quality time with the adults in the family is what you crave, then suggest a walk in the neighbourhood after dinner. Nothing is more uplifting than a moonlight stroll through the falling snow. Just dress for it, and you’ll be amazed how much of the heaviness of dinner will disappear while you breathe in the fresh winter air and burn off some of the calories from all that turkey, stuffing and dessert.

Give the gift of health. A great gadget is a heart rate monitor in the form of a watch and chest strap that signals when the person wearing it is working at the appropriate intensity level. This gift is especially useful for the dog owner that wants to convert the twice daily stroll into an effective cardiovascular exercise session. Other fitness related accessories can be very motivational, such as pedometers, breathable exercise clothes, or a quality pair of hiking or running socks.

Find the right fitness program. Exercising is always more fun with a buddy. If you’re thinking that this is the year you want to embark on a fitness program for you and a partner or friend, consider shopping now for a trial membership for both of you at the local health club. By beating the January rush, you’ll be able to take the time to shop for a suitable club, and you’ll both have something to look forward to in the dark days of winter to come.

Located in Etobicoke, Ontario, Avalon Woods is a health club geared toward boomers and mature adults. To learn more, visit

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