By Emily Alford
The Daily Meal
Sometimes it can feel like the holidays are one continuous buffet that lasts from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day, full of trays of canapés at cocktail parties, stacks of Christmas cookies in the break room, and daylong meals with friends and family.
Don't get us wrong, we're not complaining. It is the most wonderful time of the year, after all. But between shopping, snacking, and carving out time for loved ones, it can be easy to skip the gym for the entire month of December, promising ourselves that come January 2, we’ll get right back at it.
But Jennifer Cassetta, personal trainer and author of Hear Me Roar: How to Defend Your Mind, Body and Heart Against People Who Suck, warns that if you have taken an exercise hiatus, you shouldn't try to do much too soon when you finally get back.
"Start slow and steady and amp up as you move through January," she says. "The hares will quit before January is up and then you, the tortoise, will continue your journey throughout the year if you are serious about it."
Cassetta says that reason so many people find it difficult to truly commit to getting healthy after the holidays is because we don’t realize that our bodies need time to get back to their pre-holiday condition. "If you take too much time off your body becomes de-conditioned, making it physically harder to exercise than it was when you were on a roll,” she says.
The best way to avoid veering off track around the holidays is to try to maintain at least some level of physical activity, even if you can’t hit the gym. "Fit in squats while you are blow-drying your hair or in the shower," says Cassetta. "Do front kicks around the house. Plank while you are reading the paper or watching TV."
But shower squats won’t work forever. That’s why we’ve worked with some experts to compile a list of exercises to help you burn off those pesky holiday calories after all the wrapping paper has settled and you’re ready to hit the gym again.
Exercise Needed To Burn Off Holiday Favorites
Mashed Potatoes with Gravy
According to clinical nutritionist and personal trainer Jennifer Cassetta, a serving of potatoes has around 260 calories, which you can sweat off during a 90-minute yoga class.
A heaping scoop of stuffing has around 358 calories, says Cassetta, which will melt off during one 45-minute spin class.
That ball of yummy, fluffy carbs has 78 calories (not counting butter), but according to Cassetta, you can burn it off by swimming laps for 15 minutes.
Cheese and Crackers
If you nibble on three Cheddar cheese cubes atop three crackers at your holiday party, you’ve probably eaten around 267 calories, according to Cassetta. But you can take care of those in just 30 minutes of circuit training.
If you actually manage to eat an entire piece of fruitcake, you'll have eaten 330 calories, but if you play just 35 minutes of touch football with your family, it'll be as if the fruitcake never happened, says Cassetta.
A slice of pumpkin pie has about 243 calories, according to Joshua Duvauchelle, certified personal trainer for the American Council on Exercise. Half an hour on the stair climber should burn those calories away.
About 100 grams of white meat turkey has just shy of 190 calories, says Duvauchelle. He recommends half an hour of ice skating to burn your turkey calories and then some.
If you happen to eat one of those candy canes trimming the tree, it’ll be around 60 calories. If you shovel the driveway afterward for about 15 minutes, according to Duvauchelle, you should be good to go.
For the complete list of the How Much Exercise It Takes To Burn Off Your Favorite Holiday Dishes, go to TheDailyMeal.com.