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Some workout strategies to help you combat holiday weight gain

I’ve got a few quick strategies that you can implement over the holidays to keep you from overeating — or reaching for your fourth cookie of the day!

The holidays are generally a time for indulging, but that doesn’t mean that you have to gain weight as a result.

In fact, many of my private weight loss clients credit their change in mindset about food as one of the biggest benefits from working out.

What does changing your mindset about food have to do with exercising? Think back to the last time you worked out. Didn’t you end up eating a little bit healthier right afterward? Typically after you do something healthy for yourself, like exercise, you don’t want to “undo it” by eating junk food.

That’s why I’ve got a few quick strategies that you can implement over the holidays to keep you from overeating — or reaching for your fourth cookie of the day!

10 squats before you open the fridge

Stephanie Mansour suggests doing a series of squats before opening the fridge to help curb your appetite.
Stephanie Mansour suggests doing a series of squats before opening the fridge to help curb your appetite.
Brian Ernst/Sun-Times

Going into the fridge for leftovers because you’re bored, but not really hungry?

Next time you think about getting more food, challenge yourself to do 10 squats in front of the fridge before opening it. Stand with your feet as wide as your hips, hands on the refrigerator handles. Lower down into a squat, and then press back up to standing.

Push-Ups against the counter before opening the cabinets

Stephanie Mansour demonstrates the starting position of a push-up that can be done on the floor or against the counter in your kitchen.
Stephanie Mansour demonstrates the starting position of a push-up that can be done on the floor or against the counter in your kitchen.
Brian Ernst/Sun-Times

Before you open up the cabinets to grab some chips or your favorite junk food, think again!

Immediately place your hands onto the countertop and prepare to do push-ups.

Grab the countertop and step your feet out as wide as your hips a few feed away from the counter.

Bend the elbows out to the sides as you reach your chest down towards the counter. Press your hands into the counter harder as you press up to the starting position.

Repeat this 10 times before allowing yourself to open up the cabinets!

Alternatively, if you’re able to do push-ups on the ground on a mat, you can do 10 push-ups on your knees in a modified position. Simply come onto all fours with your shoulders over your wrists and your knees behind your hips. Bend the elbows out to the sides, and then press up.

Repeat this 10 times.

Clap and Press Up Before Eating Another Cookie

Reaching for a junk food snack? To stop yourself in your tracks and create a physical “boundary” between you and that bag of chips or plate of cookies.

Clap your hands at the center of your chest, and then reach your arms straight up. Repeat this 10 times, and then see if you still want the cookie. Chances are it may seem a little less appealing and you’ll break the unconscious cycle of just reaching for one too many snacks.

The goal of these exercises is to break up the normal holiday eating pattern of going for seconds and thirds and ending up feeling stuffed. Try these physical pattern “interrupts” this season!

Stephanie Mansour is the host of “Step It Up with Steph” on American Public Television, airing locally on WTTW-Channel 11. She coaches private clients in weight loss, appears regularly on national TV shows, and offers a free 21 Day Challenge on her website. She holds certifications in personal training, yoga, Pilates, and professional life coaching. Check out her fitness tips every Sunday in the Well section of the Chicago Sun-Times and her workout videos online at chicago.suntimes.com/exercise-well.