Want to Prevent Holiday Weight Gain? Burn It to Earn It!

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Forget about all the food for a minute. Let's talk about the fitness. Holiday weight gain is a concern for many, but it's not just because of the food. Sure, we eat more rich foods than we probably should this time of year, but we also let our workouts go by the wayside. We're stressed out and busier than ever with mile-long to do lists. The uncooperative weather doesn't help—dark mornings and evenings make you want to curl up in bed—not to biceps curls. So how is it that we can manage to do everything else but not squeeze in a workout? And what does that say about our priorities (and our commitments to ourselves)?

Let's do things differently this year, starting with Thanksgiving. The solution really is simple. We know what causes weight gain and we know how to maintain and lose weight, too. So for the next few weeks, I propose a new philosophy that will keep winter weight gain at bay: Burn it to earn it.

It's pretty simple, really. Burn it (calories, that is) to earn it (the extra holiday food).

Want to indulge this Thanksgiving? Burn it to earn it.
Going for an extra slice of pie? Burn it to earn it.
Accepting some holiday cookies from a co-worker? Burn it to earn it.

A little extra eating is common during the holidays, and there isn't anything unhealthy about that. But before you bite, I want you to think about what you'll do to make sure that food doesn't become a permanent part of your anatomy. That's where exercise comes in. Before you let your exercise excuses get the best of you this season, here are 6 of my best workouts and tips that you can use today, Thanksgiving day (hint, hint), and all December long.

1. Follow the habits of fit people. These ideas can truly help you stick to a fitness routine, no matter what life throws at you.

2. Do a short video. I've created over 30 unique workouts—from cardio to Pilates to strength training. Many of these free videos require no equipment at all, and can be done anywhere you have a computer and Internet access (at home, the office, your in-laws, or even a hotel room). These short routines (most are under 15 minutes) make it easy to squeeze in a little exercise!

3. Sign up for a race. It probably isn't too late to join your local Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day. Talk about burning calories before you bite!

4. Try my 30-Minute Holiday Workout! This will target all of your major muscle groups and elevate your heart rate simultaneously. Add intensity by mixing in jumping jacks, high knee jogging, squat thrusts and other simple cardio moves between each exercise.

5. Wake up early. Most gyms are open limited hours on Thanksgiving and other holidays, and if you wake up a little early, you can fit in a workout and still get dinner on the table on time.

6. Plan calorie-burning activities. Don't just lounge in front of the tube all Thanksgiving day. Plan an outdoor walk or hike after dinner; play a game of touch football; rake leaves for the little ones to play in; or volunteer at a food pantry to help those in need. Anything that gets you on your feet and moving is better than sitting, especially on a daily of overindulgence.

How will you "burn it to earn it" this Thanksgiving? Share your ideas in the comments below!

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DIVAGLOW 10/27/2019
This is just what I need for this holiday season. Report
BKLOPPY 9/5/2019
Thank you! An excellent list of ways to stay ahead of this festive season! Report
DRAGONFLY631 6/13/2019
Great tips. Thank you Report
Great Article! Report
Guilty, thank you for these great tips! Report
Great tips! Thanks, Coach! Report
Great tips! Thanks, Coach Nicole! Report
Great article! Thank you! Report
Great blog Report
I did a 4 mile turkey trot in Memphis before my hubbie and I cooked Cornish game hens for Thanksgiving.

I find that if I go with "just 5 minutes", I can get myself to stay with it.

The cold. Geez. It hit like a brick this weekend. I cross-trained this week and I need to pull out my wind pants so I can be out next week in the weather. Dressing in layers helps a lot. Report
Walk the dog every day !! And only one slice of pie!~~ Works for me! Report
I enjoy walking in my winter wonderland and playing the snow with my brother-in-law's dogs. Report
Burn it to earn it is a pretty good idea! That's what I did on Thanksgiving-an hour of cardio that morning, plus choosing foods carefully, meant I actually lost weight over Thanksgiving rather than gaining. Small victories! Report
Holiday treats and snacks are really big where I work. I made a cute basket full of healthy snacks such as fruits, raw nuts, no butter popcorn and etc. I also let my team know that I will bring fresh cut up veggies daily and will make a new homemade dip each week for them to enjoy. I figure, if I don't want to eat the unhealthy food with them, I will invite them to eat healthy with me. I also carefully chose what I ate daily and continue to do so until thanks giving and allow myself to enjoy all the homemade food.. up to a point though. Report
At least one mile a day! Report
Did an additional 2.5 miles for the week...the big thing will be to not drink during month of december Report
I did 90 minutes of exercise on Thanksgiving, mostly walking but some biking as well. Today I did an hour's worth of exercise. Just do your exercise everyday and watch your portions at every meal. I think that's most of the battle right there~ Report
On Thanksgiving dayI will walk to pick up a newspaper while my turkey is roasting in the oven, encourage my family to go on an after dinner walk and participate in an after the turkey hike on Friday morning. For the rest of the days to New Years I will be participating in my Team's challenge. Report
I plan on getting up early and getting the turkey in the oven. After that I hope to get in a workout and a shower before the festivities begin. Good luck everyone and have a great holiday. Report
How about the drinks? Family time means a lot of beer and wine for us. I am going to make sparkly drinks with Perrier and citrus slices and cranberry juice, and try to put off the wine until the meal is served. Report
Great blog. Report
I strugged with the earning aspect of this article until I realized it was an inticement to do exercise. All the exercise suggestions are great. It is a win-win plan. Lets get moving/exercising! Report
I find it incredibly problematic to frame food as something we need to earn or feel like we don't just deserve to have. This is just in general, but especially around the holidays when stress is at an all time high and food is universally present, if we start feeling like we need to earn every bite we take, there is a lot of room for shame, self-deprecation, and negative self talk. I prefer to look at it the way that advice on this site is usually framed: everything in moderation. Exercise, food, that extra piece of pie, a yoga class or a spinning class. All of those things I do (or eat!) because I like them and I know that, in moderation, they are good for me (or at least won't kill me). But to frame food as if it's something we don't just deserve (and need to survive) lies dangerously close to an eating disordered restrictive outlook. I'm surprised to see that here. Report
Sounds like a great idea! I am hoping it will be easier for me to "burn it to earn it" because I will be camping for Thanksgiving. But that doesn't mean I won't be bringing the feast with me!
I agree with burn it to earn it. I will be going to the gym on Thanksgiving morning for my Group Power weight lifting class. I will also be on my treadmill before that. I plan on burning off those turkey calories I plan on eating. love turkey so I plan on eating some...... Report
...will be doing my yearly volunteer at our GRB center- 'City Wide Thanksgiving Feast'- serving homeless & people in need. It gives me much joy & blessing to help out.

I pray that everyone has a Blessed holiday season. Report
I plan on being in control and making myself be active. We are starting with Thanksgiving Parade early in the morning then to my sister's for dinner. I plan on bringing some healthier versions of Thanksgiving traditions. Report
A great motivational and inspirational article. Thanks, Coach Nicole! Adding "Burn It To Earn It" as a Goal on my Start Page and also making a Spark Streak for it. Report
I am on Week 5 of the SparkPeople 5K Your Way, so I'll get in three walk/runs this week! Report
I have followed portion control, and an excellent exercise regimen for the last 4 years. The holiday season it more of the same. perhaps more awareness of the pitfalls. Dig a little deeper in the self control.
I figure on Thanksgiving day there are more food choices , I will choose what I normally don't eat. let others go or really limit them. the same goes for all the parties this time of year. Plan ahead. I usually track before i eat. So i have an idea what and how much I am going to consume. Don't become obsessed, just aware. Have a nice happy holiday season. Report
I love the article but I am thinking on walking it off by going to local stores and window shop and watch what I eat. Report
Turkey Trot and a Brisk Walk through the Forest. Report
My sister and I are going to 'count' our Thanksgiving dinner meal and make sure we 'burn' enough that day to have deficit for the day. We are planning on making sure half of our plate is veggies, 1/4 meat, 1/4 starches...and only ONE dessert! Report
I'm trying to slow down when I eat this holiday. SO I can really enjoy what I'm eating. I tend to scarf down my food--now I let myself eat steamed and raw veggies fast, and S-L-O-W D-O-W-N on the richer stuff. Report
This is exactly how I dealt with Thanksgiving and plan to keep it up throughout the holiday season. In my mind now, my workouts are non-negotiable and other stuff is going to have to be scheduled around them! Report
Good article. I was feeling like I was tip toeing through landmines today, but now I think I can power walk through them. Report
I lost 3 pounds during the Thanksgiving week. I never thought It was possible, but I tracked everything and worked out for 6 hrs. during the week. Making 4 Spark recipes for Thanksgiving dinner and not going for seconds really did the trick. Report
Great Article. Report
I went to the gym and put in a hard work out Thanksgiving morning. My family looked at me like I was crazy when I was limiting portions of my two Thanksgiving favorites - sweet potato suffle' and apple pie - but I tried to not do too much damage.
I don't think I will be able to squeeze in a workout on Christmas day as my husband and I will be splitting time between my parents and his parents house, but I plan to work out extra hard Thursday and Saturday to make up for the Honey Bake Ham and macaroni and cheese that will be waiting for me on Christmas Day! Report
Remember to volunteer for kitchen clean up duty, and do not just load the dish washer. Do it the old fashion way. It burns more calories. Report
Great ideas! Report
I was excited to see that my gym is opened on TG day form 7 a-12 noon. Already planning on getting a workout in in the morning Report
Love your blogs! Keep them coming! Report
that's fun... you could even burn it to earn... anything... spin for an hour, allow yourself some coveted dvd time... the exercise can be disconnected from food rewards... and weight loss numbers can be disconnected from "good or bad" by making positive behaviours (eating right, exercising time) what is rewarded. The weight and inch losses are after all rewards in themselves... but currently too easy to make fraught with good/bad connotations. So... I'm gonna go burn right now by hiking in to feed horses their hay! Report
This is a great article! Poundcakes you made a great suggestion as well. Printing out this article and placing it in a location where it is visible is a constant reminder. Thanks you both for the information. Report
Thanks!!! I am excited to work hard this holiday and "burn it, to earn it!" Report
This is a great idea. Especially with all the parties coming up. Report
I started this Thanksgiving holiday with a 'Fat Burner' 90 minute class at my gym! We were all psyched to burn it so we could earn it. Report
Thank for a great article. Happy Thanksgiving to all my American Spark friends Report
I've been working on adding a little extra all week so I can enjoy today's dinner with out guilt. I've also been banking some calories. I'm going to eat everything I want today but not over indulge. Then I'll probably ride my bike this evening. Report