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Chicago trainer: 4 tips to beat holiday bulge

December 15, 2011|By Leonor Vivanco, RedEye

People tend to pack on the pounds around the holiday season.

There's snacking on sugary holiday treats and drinking calories from New Year's Eve cocktails. And of course, the big holiday dinner. People often stuff themselves until their pants burst.

But it's possible to keep that weight gain from creeping up on you by making smart choices about what you consume and burning off the calories you take in, said Jenn Hogg, group fitness manager at Equinox gym in the Gold Coast.

"People get so stressed out, like they're destined to fail and gain weight and feel like it's a hopeless situation," she said. "It's not hopeless. Get a workout in and make mindful choices and you can survive the holidays."

In the last two weeks of December, members dodge the gym due to holiday obligations and holiday travel, she said. Then comes the January rush, coinciding when people make the New Year's resolution to lose weight.

In the meantime, here are four fabulous tips from Hogg to help stay slim:

Commit to exercising for an extra 30 minutes each day to balance all the extra calories going into your body, she said. It doesn't have to be at the gym. It could be taking the dog for an extra long walk after dinner. Moving burns calories and can raise the resting metabolic rate, Hogg said.

Ask for a "skinny" version of anything on a menu. For example, a grande peppermint mocha at Starbucks has 410 calories. A skinny version has only 130 calories. Remember, coffee beverages and alcohol have calories, she said. "You have to pay attention to the holistic calorie intake as opposed to just food," Hogg said.

Have one holiday treat. If you deny yourself the treat, that could lead to binging, she said. Or you'll try to nibble on something else to get rid of the craving. But that doesn't work, so you end up eating the treat and more. "Don't deprive yourself, but don't overindulge," Hogg said.

Going to a potluck? Make a healthy dish. The "skinny" version, with low fat cream cheese for example, is just as delicious. Make dishes high in protein, such as hummus dip. If the other potluck dishes seem too fattening, eat what you brought.

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