8 Ways to Burn Off Holiday Pounds

The holidays were fun while they lasted, but if you're like most Americans, you added some unwanted pounds to your gift list.  Weight loss and fitness are on almost everyone's mind at the start of the new year; so read on for 8 ways to get back on track.

  • Try something new. Review the fitness class list at your gym or community college, and pick something new like kick boxing or spinning. Regina Brooks, ACE certified fitness instructor and personal trainer at Lloyd Athletic Club in Portland, OR says, "Kick boxing burns about 550 calories per hour and spinning, as many as 800. You'll rev up your metabolism, boost your learning curve, and start the year off right."
  • Go play in the snow. When the weather outside is frightful, play in it.  Hit the slopes, try cross-country skiing, snowboarding, or snow-shoeing. Even building a snowman or a snowball fight with the kids is exercise. 
  • Hit the ice. Ice skating and hockey are excellent cardiovascular activities.  Continuous skating can burn almost 500 calories per hour while tightening leg muscles and improving balance.
  • De-decorate. Climbing ladders to take down lights, reaching high to take ornaments off the tree, hauling the tree out for recycling and trip after trip to the basement or attic to put away boxes are all great ways to move it and lose it. Don't multi-task. Carry one box at a time and multiply your total step-count.
  • Start clean. Do your spring-cleaning early.  Move the furniture, vacuum, mop, dust, and chase away the dirt, grime, pine needles and dust bunnies.  Housework is exercise, if you do it right.
  • Restock the kitchen. Replace eggnog with sparkling water, the cheese log with pre-cut veggies and the fudge and cookies with fresh fruit. Brooks says, "Eliminating soda is the number one way to cut calories."
  • Kick your bad habits. Lifetime membership in the couch potato club? Major candy addiction? "Fess up" to a friend or join a support group for motivation to put down the chip bag and pick up your gym bag. Find a workout buddy who will kick you off the couch and exercise with you. According to Brooks, "Being accountable to someone else has been shown to be a successful way to stick to fitness goals."
  • Shop 'til you drop. Go ahead and hit the after-holiday sales but try these tips for turning your shopping trip into a fitness trip.  Walk to the mall or park at the farthest corner of the parking lot.  Make a few extra trips around the mall perimeter to add some distance while protecting yourself from harsh weather.