Winter activities to work off popular holiday treats

If you’re hoping to head into 2014 without a belly shaking like a bowl full of jelly, consider how much activity it will take to burn off the calories from your favourite holiday treats

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winter run

Work off those high-calorie holiday treats

Rockin’ around the Christmas tree will burn off a few calories, but for the most part, avoiding packing on a few “seasonal” pounds is more of a struggle than trying to squeeze Santa down a standard-sized chimney.

Trying to adhere to any kind of strict diet while navigating your way through a myriad of holiday parties and dinners is pretty much a recipe for disaster (not to mention a joy killer) but that doesn’t mean you should consume every rum ball, shortbread cookie or candycane cocktail that crosses your path, either.

Once you know exactly how much sweat equity is required to stop that moment of festive cheer on the lips from settling on your hips, we’re willing to bet you’ll start being a little more selective about the choices you make. Alternatively, it’s always good karma to shovel your neighbour’s driveway to work off all that figgy pudding.

Here’s a breakdown of popular holiday treats and what you’ll have to do to work them off:

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Chocolates are everywhere this time of year: stuffed in your stocking, circulating at the office and casually strewn about at all your relatives’ homes. We’ve even made a tradition out of starting every morning for the first 25 days of December with a bite-sized hit of cocoa, so it’s really no wonder we think so little about popping a few in our mouths every time we wander past the candy dish. At roughly 79 calories each, those Lindors and Ferrero Rochers can add up quickly. If over the course of a day you mindlessly munch on six, you’re taking in 474 extra calories without a moment’s hesitation.


Work it off: Just over an hour (63 minutes) of tobogganing.

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Let’s face it: For most folks, the Christmas feast is not so much about the turkey as it is about the bread-based stuffing goodness that’s hiding inside. While there are healthy alternatives to keep calories in check and switch up recipes for those with food intolerances, traditional bread stuffing usually packs over 400 calories into each cup-sized serving. For most, this is an integral aspect of a holiday meal, so go ahead and enjoy.

Work it off:
Hit the cross-country ski trails for an hour and 10 minutes.

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sugar cookies

Sugar cookies

Sugar cookies certainly aren’t the most damaging baked good on the block, but when it comes to portion control, they’re kind of like Pringles: “Once you pop, you can’t stop.” By recognizing that each tiny Pillsbury ready-bake circle packs 100 calories – and that’s before you get creative with the delicious frosting-you will be likely be more inclined to leave a few more on Santa’s midnight snack plate.

Work it off:
It will only take 11 minutes of moderately vigorous dancing to work each sugar cookie off. Someone cue the Christmas carol remixes!

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eggnog drinks holiday


There’s no denying that eggnog-flavoured anything is pretty appealing this time of year, but at an average of 200 calories per half cup – and that’s before the rum – this creamy indulgence needs to be consumed in moderation. Even if you opt out of a traditional glass of nog, the much-beloved Starbucks Eggnog Latte is still a fat and sugar bomb waiting to explode all over your workout plans – clocking in at 460 calories for a grande size (190 of which are strictly fat).

Work it off:
Hit hit the skating rink for 65 minutes.

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Not all gravy is created equal. The made from scratch variety is going to serve you better than that from a can or a sachet of dehydrated who-knows-what and, yes, turkey gravy will cost you less calorically-speaking than beef. The problem with gravy is that even though we know it is essentially a sauce made out of fat, we still continue to seriously overpour when we come face-to-face with the gravy boat.

Nutritional values vary greatly from one recipe to another, but unless you’re gravy is homemade, the sodium levels are what you really need to be concerned about. Not only will four ounces of the brown stuff deliver more than a quarter of your daily recommended 2,000 mg, but the water retention that follows will also have your festive frocks feeling awfully tight.

Work it off:
Log 25 minutes on a snowboard to work off those 180 saucy calories.

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While some people would rather use this “traditional” holiday calorie-bomb as a doorstop than serve it up to their house guests, those who love fruitcake really love it. In reality, it’s probably one of the most dangerous food paramours to have considering that most recipes (commercial versions and Grandma’s alike) are loaded with refined sugar, bleached flour and corn syrup. And don’t be fooled by the name, there is nothing healthful about the “fruit” that goes into these confections: Once it’s been candied it doesn’t count. Averaging around 400 calories and 25 g of sugar per four ounce serving, you may feel like a bit of a fruitcake for delving into one of these.

Work it off: Should the allure prove too much for you to resist, 47 minutes of serious calisthenics (think pushups, situps, pullups) can help you negate all those red and green maraschinos.

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Cosmopolitan cocktails

The cocktail party circuit is dangerous territory for anyone trying to watch their waistline during the holidays. While no one’s expecting you to sip water all month long, it is important not to fall into the “I’ve worked out, I deserve this” mindset. When it comes time to choose your libation of choice, one simple rule of thumb is to steer clear of anything juice-based. Averaging 212 calories per four ounce serving (frankly, most folks don’t pour a drink that small) cosmos are packed with calories.

Work it off:
If you indulge in four in an evening, it will take two hours and 10 minutes of intense snow shovelling just to break even. And let’s be honest, after a four-cocktail night, no one’s getting up early to clear the driveway.

8 substitutions for healthier holiday cooking
Healthier versions of your favourite holiday recipes
Healthy holiday smoothie and drink recipes

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