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Mitzi Parker: Don’t let weight gain creep up during holidays

You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why: five extra pounds is coming to town — only if you allow it! No one wants to be a Scrooge, and part of the joy of the holidays revolves around food. So how are we supposed to stay extra jolly and not gain extra jiggle?
The secret to having your cake and eating it too is simple — get moving! A single indulgence won’t add pounds, but they tend to become the normal fare for months around the holidays. If you don’t counteract those extra treats with extra movement, you’ll see extra pounds. University of Georgia Extension’s Walk Georgia program has created a 12-day list that will help you enjoy the season to its fullest while staying active!
12 Days of Holiday Health
• Make a big red and green salad for dinner. Try a spinach salad with pomegranate, pears, walnuts and Gorgonzola cheese.
• Treat yourself. Buy boxes of your favorite flavored teas. It’s an inexpensive indulgent treat that will keep you warm all month long, without adding an extra “layer.”
• Did you know that regular supermarkets sell roasted chestnuts? Buy a pack to share and enjoy the health benefits, including fiber, vitamins and minerals. Plus, they are lower in fat than most nuts.
• Take a long walk to forage pine cones, evergreen boughs, eucalyptus and holly berries. You can make a wreath, a festive centerpiece or fresh potpourri — simply simmer evergreen, orange peels and cloves in a pot of water; your house will smell lovely.
• Have some fun. Play active games with your family as a part of the holiday fun.
• Use holiday shopping as a way to burn some calories. Wear a pedometer and commit to taking 10,000 steps. You can do it!
• Turn up the holiday music and get dancing. You can burn up to 610 calories after an hour of dancing.
• It’s not too early to make a New Year’s commitment. Reflect on the upcoming New Year today. How will you stay active and move more in 2016? Simply write these down, and place them on the refrigerator to get a head start.
• Bundle Up! Take a WALK, instead of a drive to see the Christmas lights this year. None in your neighborhood? Scout out the best ones then drive, park and walk.
• Give the gift of fitness. Purchase a membership to a local gym or fitness classes,  one for yourself and give one to a friend … you are more likely to stick with your fitness plan if you have a partner. If you are a runner, research spring races in your community and purchase registration for yourself and your best friend. Merry Fitness!
• Cookies for Santa is so passé; leave Santa some real fuel. Whole-wheat banana bread is a great substitution — don’t forget carrots for the reindeer!
• Plant a permanent tree. Buy a small Cyprus or pine tree and help someone in the future enjoy the beauty of the holidays.
Want more fitness inspiration? Sign up for Walk Georgia’s newsletter by visiting blog.extension.uga.edu/walkgeorgia and receive healthy recipes and fitness tips. Walk Georgia is a free, online program that enables you to track and get points for moving. Walk Georgia’s mission is to inspire Georgians to move more, so that they can live more.

Mitzi Parker is Sumter County Extension agent/Family and Consumer Sciences, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. Contact her at 229-924-4476.