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Originally published in FabFitFun

It’s as much of a holiday tradition as dreaming about Colin Firth in Love Actually: that post-holiday freak-out when you realize just how many times you went back for seconds at all those parties and potlucks. Um, could you ever turn down another helping of your grandma’s famous stuffing? Didn’t think so!

But get this: The holiday season doesn’t have to wreak havoc on your waistline! Rowdy Yates, fitness manager at Crunch Gyms, let us in on the secrets to staying trim despite those holiday temptations.

First, Rowdy laid out the ground rules for any food-filled festivity.

1. Do not try to overcome the overeating in one to two days. Plan accordingly by reducing calorie intake a few days prior to any holiday party and a few days after in order to avoid being overwhelmed by the task of “working” the calories off.

2. Use smaller plates to avoid eating extremely large portions at holiday parties. By eating smaller meals throughout the day, you can avoid eating thousands of calories in one sitting.

3. Participate in the food prep, cleanup, and any other activities. More calories burned means a much lower calorie surplus.

Second, after the meal is over (or better yet — before it even begins), balance it out with cardio. Rowdy recommends these food-exercise substitutions:

  • 6-ounce ham, 300 calories = 30 minutes of punching heavy bag or boxing
  • 1 cup egg nog, 343 calories = 30 minutes jumping rope
  • 1 cup Waldorf salad, 220 calories = 20 minutes stair machine
  • 1 iced gingerbread cookie, 100 calories = 20 minutes rowing
  • 3 cups salad with 2 tablespoons ranch, 210 cals = 60 minutes of moderate walking
  • 1 dinner roll, 110 calories = 30 minutes of housework
  • 1 piece of pecan pie, 480 calories = 60 minutes of swimming laps

xx, The FabFitFun Team