By Dorothy Foltz-Gray
Pecan pie. Eggnog. Aunt Norma's famous sweet potatoes. Candy canes. Holiday "sugar plums" can undo us. Still, what's merriment without a bit of sweet indulgence? Splurge a little-then follow our easy tips for burning off those extra calories.*
* Note: The calories burned are estimates based on a 150-pound woman. What you burn depends on your height, weight, and how vigorously you work out.
Related: 10 Strategies to Lose Fat and Keep It Off
1. A Slice of Pecan Pie (500 calories)
"Oh the pie! Pecan, pumpkin, apple, pecan, chocolate, pecan. Did I say that already?" asks Krista Maurer, a writer, photographer, and designer in Bountiful, Utah. "I could eat an entire pecan pie by myself."
Burn It Off This Way: Shoveling Snow
Pie-loving Maurer, who has recently lost 35 pounds, undoes her pecan pie calories by shoveling her driveway for at least an hour. "It's a hefty workout, especially when we get a wet snow," she says.
"Eighty minutes of show shoveling will burn off that slice," says fitness trainer and wellness consultant Luci Gabel, owner of Luci Gabel Fitness in Washington, D.C. "Snow shoveling works the lateral and low back muscles, abs, shoulders, biceps, and triceps, and the legs a little-depending on how low you lunge to get the snow."
2. Three Potato Latkes (400 calories)
Oh, the crisp brown edges, the glistening butter-potato latkes are the savory favorites of Steve Silberberg, owner of Fitpacking.com, a backpacking company in Hull, Massachusetts.
Burn It Off This Way: Winter Sports
Silberberg, a former ACE aerobics instructor and a wilderness first responder, recommends 45 minutes of snowshoeing or an hour of moderate downhill skiing to burn off those latkes.
3. A Cup of Eggnog (400 calories)
This holiday favorite, rich in cream, eggs, and alcohol, carries a high-calorie punch.
Burn It Off This Way: Ice-Skating
Make time for exercise and you don't have to feel guilty about holiday treats, says Amber Wilson, M.S., R.D., a nutrition counselor in South Lake Tahoe, California. To burn off the eggnog, she suggests ice-skating. Ninety minutes will work the thigh and calf muscles while burning 589 calories, she says.
Related: How to Avoid Life's Big Fat Traps
4. Candy Cane (60 calories)
Don't worry about that candy cane you just ate. It's one of the slighter holiday sins, says Jennifer Haas, M.S., R.D., who works for Nova Medical Group in Ashburn, Virginia.
Burn It Off This Way: Biking
A runner and cyclist, Haas suggests hopping on a bike (indoors or out, depending on your climate) for 10 minutes to say adios to that sweet treat.
5. A Cup of Hot Chocolate (150 calories)
Who doesn't want a 15-minute hot chocolate break from holiday shopping?
Burn It Off This Way: Play Ball!
"Have a vigorous snowball fight for 20 minutes straight," suggests personal trainer Jennifer Didonato, owner of Made Fit in Detroit. Or build a snowman for a half-hour.
6. Two Sugar Cookies (200 calories)
"My favorite holiday food: sugar cookies, hands down," says Claire Tindall, a public relations manager in Denver.
Related: 25 Diet-Friendly Baking Swaps
Burn It Off This Way: A Walk in the Snow
Tindall brushes the sugar off her lips and heads for the snowy Boulder hills, hiking for two to three hours with her husband and dog. Hiking for two hours burns a colossal 810 calories. So Tindall can pack a few more cookies to munch en route.
7. One-Half Cup Broccoli Casserole (130 calories)
That's what Erica Maniscalco, a freelance make-up artist, beauty editor, and art director in Bellmore, New York, loves along with the cauliflower au gratin and the sweet potato pie. "I come from an Italian-American family, and the holidays are just a pig fest," she says.
Burn It Off This Way: Cardio
Maniscalco tosses those extra calories by mixing up hourlong cardio workouts: 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer (335 calories gone), say, followed by 30 minutes on the stationary bike (260 calories, vanished).
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By Dorothy Foltz-Gray