Burn Off Those Holiday Splurges

12 guilt-free ways to enjoy the season's treats.

By Dorothy Foltz-Gray

Go Ahead, Enjoy Your Holiday Treats!

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.


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."

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A Serving of Sweet Potatoes (200 calories)

Lauren O'Connor's husband undoes her willpower with his holiday cooking. Her favorite dish? "Bourbon sweet potatoes," says the Los Angeles dietitian and mother of two.

Burn It Off This Way: A Holiday Hike. O'Connor takes her holiday dinner guests on at least a 45-minute walk that includes a hill and a grueling 150-step staircase. The walk alone burns 250 calories, five minutes of climbing stairs about 50 calories-and, presto, those sweet holiday taters never happened.
A Serving of Stuffing (105 calories)

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A Serving of Stuffing (105 calories)

For Martha Price, a human resource/accounting manager of a consulting firm in Stoneham, Massachusetts, holiday turkey is just an excuse to eat stuffing.

Burn It Off This Way: Step or Wrap. Price escapes the punitive side of stuffing by adding 30 minutes to her stair-stepping routine at the gym. Thirty minutes burns 223 calories. Another option: Wrap presents for one hour and burn 120 calories, says personal trainer and fitness instructor Natalie Digate Muth, M.D., a spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

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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.

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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.

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Honey-Roasted Ham (3.5 ounces, 122 calories)

Forget the turkey. Kelsey Bollinger, a marketing specialist in San Diego, likes to indulge in ham at the holidays. (Okay-she really likes turkey too.)

Burn It Off This Way: Jogging. Bollinger works the piggy off by taking an hourlong early morning run on Thanksgiving or Christmas day. Jogging for an hour will burn about 584 calories.

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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.


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.

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Cranberry Sauce (one-fourth cup 100 calories)

Hoang Uyen X. Nguyen, Eagan, Minnesota, is Vietnamese, so at Thanksgiving and Christmas, her family digs into turkey and cellophane noodle stuffing, cranberry sauce, and egg rolls. "To me, the holidays mean family and feasting," she says.

Burn It Off This Way: Snow Angels. Nguyen's plan: "I just keep moving...like the Energizer bunny." For fun and calorie burning, she goes ice-skating (a 30-minute skate burns 160 calories) or plays in the snow-something there's no shortage of in Minnesota!



Two Sugar Cookies (200 calories)

"My favorite holiday food: sugar cookies, hands down," says Claire Tindall, a public relations manager in Denver.


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.

Walking Workout: Tone Your Arms As You Walk




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).

Get Slim Without the Gym: Cardio Blasters




One Slice of Pumpkin Pie (250 calories)

After all, pumpkin is a vegetable, right?

Burn It Off This Way: Go Shopping. Not feeling athletic after that pie? Not to worry, says American Council on Exercise spokesperson Muth. Just by window shopping for two hours, you'll burn about 260 calories-and your wallet will be slimmer too.


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