Shedding the Holiday Pounds

New Media Producer: Brad Maglinger

Studies show Americans who gain weight during the holidays aren't losing it when they resume their normal eating habits. The pounds are literally adding up year after year. That's why fitness centers are trying to get people in the gym now, instead of waiting for a New Year's resolution.

John Schwentker says he just, "ate second and third helpings. And a lot of desserts I normally wouldn't eat."

Michele Roberts is at the gym now, not waiting until the New Year. "That was always my New Year's resolution; that I was going to lose weight and it never happened."

And that's not surprising. Too many people put off exercising during the holidays and then they have a big problem on their hands come January 1st.

Health & wellness director Mardi File says, "Well, then you have an extra five or ten to lose on top of what you may have already wanted to lose, which is very discouraging. We want to promote not just being thin, but being well. Your heart and your lungs, and everything needs to stay fit all year long and not take a break for Christmas."

The YMCA's "Turkey Burn Off" is two hours of exercise classes starting the day after Thanksgiving, including a family fitness class. The Y's holiday trimmings program gives people some incentive not to overdo it. If they can maintain their weight from December 1st to January 1st, they're eligible for prizes.

Some simple tips are to eat more, yes more, fruits and vegetables which will help you stave off hunger for fatty foods. Try keeping a food diary so you can see what you're really eating.

Instead of searching for a good space outside the mall, go ahead and park farther away so you'll burn extra calories. If looking at the big picture is too daunting, just try to improve one meal a day. You could be two pounds lighter by the New Year just by eating a lighter lunch.

"Don't ever want to overeat again," says James Blythe. "I've done it too many times in my past. I know better. At my age you should learn something." And the sooner you learn that, the better.

No one is saying that you can't have some holiday treats, just spend a little more time sweating to make up for it.