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4 Ways to Eat Through the Holidays and Fit Your Pants

4 Ways to Eat Through the Holidays and Fit Your Pants

From the first slice of Thanksgiving pie until the last bite of brunch on New Year's Day, it's tempting to think, "I'll be a blimp by January anyway, so why bother?" and throw in the diet towel. Actually, it's easy to keep your waistline intact. Really. You just need to separate a few holiday myths from reality.

Myth: Most people put on 7 pounds over the holidays.
Reality: The average gain is only about 1 pound. If your clothes feel tighter than that come January 2, it's because that extra pound or so is fat, which takes up more space than muscle. The trick is to take off even a little extra weight right away. Many of us put on 1 or 2 pounds a year every year and never lose it. Bit by bit, that adds up. So either make sure you hold even or cut back for a week till it's gone. But hey, that's what New Year's resolutions are for!

Myth: If I just stick to my exercise routine during the season, I'll be fine.
Reality: You won't. Which will just make you want to throw in the fitness towel, too. Instead of trying to cram your regular workout into a totally overscheduled season, do 10-minute bursts of activity when you can. Going to the mall for last-minute shopping? Do what you always swear you will: Take the stairs instead of the escalator, and park at the far end of the parking lot. Got 10 minutes while dinner is cooking? Put on your favorite fast music and dance like a maniac. Need a stress break at work? Walk around the building two or three times. A few mini workouts like these will deliver the same mind-body benefits as a full 30-minute routine.

Myth: You can gain 5 pounds at one blowout holiday feast.
Reality: Five pounds is stretching it, but even if the scale jumps scarily 24 hours after a big meal, don't panic -- the extra weight is almost certainly water. Salt may be to blame for that, but carbs from the mashed potatoes and dressing are water holders, too, says Elizabeth Somer, RD, author of 10 Habits That Mess Up a Woman's Diet. Within a day or two, the water weight of a big meal will disappear as you return to normal activities and excrete the extra fluid.

Myth: It's okay to go overboard at parties and special holiday meals -- just exercise more the next day and burn it off.
Reality: While it's true that the more you exercise, the more you can eat, there's a limit to how much you can do. A 150-pound woman who eats a 2,500 calorie meal has to walk briskly for 10.5 hours to burn it off. So unless you're planning to do nothing else but walk and eat for the duration, skip second helpings. You probably don't really want them anyway.

Double reward for playing it smart: Not only will your jeans still fit in January, but maintaining a constant desirable weight can make your RealAge 6 years younger.

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