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The North Charlotte location of Gold’s Gym has a program for members going on now through Christmas.
The North Charlotte location of Gold’s Gym has a program for members going on now through Christmas. Courtesy of Gold's Gym

As we approach the winter holidays, right on the heels of Thanksgiving and Halloween, many people notice their schedules getting busier, their stress levels rising and their waistlines growing. In fact, from Oct. 31 to Jan. 1, the average weight gain is between seven and 14 pounds. So before you reach for another glass of eggnog and Grandma's famous rum cake, consider what some of your local fitness and nutrition experts say that they do – and recommend that you can do – to get through the holidays.

Angela Gallo, president and CEO of Total Nutrition Technology and her husband, Troy Wilkinson, manager at Lifestyle Family Fitness in the University area, pack healthy snacks when they are out shopping or attending holiday activities with their children. Not only does it make outings less expensive, but it also prevents them from making unhealthy decisions. The family cooks together, and these parents love teaching their little ones that food can be fun and healthy.

CE-Fit owners Lashonda Jones, a certified personal trainer, and Johnnie Jones, registered dietitian and wellness specialist, help hold each other accountable and continually practice portion control, eating in moderation and exercising during the holidays. It’s inevitable that people will go out of town and indulge during this time of year. If you’re going to be out of town and away from your regular fitness and diet routine for a long period of time, remember to “avoid doing nothing, move more and eat less,” according to Lashonda Jones. Making a realistic workout schedule, packing your workout equipment when you travel and keeping a food journal are all helpful ways to stay on track.

“Exercise can be done more ways during the holidays than people realize,” says Chris Fitzmaurice, certified personal trainer and clinical exercise physiology student at UNC Charlotte. “It just takes a little creativity and proper usage of various objects to turn something into a workout.” Try going for a walk after dinner with the family or even doing something as simple as picking up things around the house – who knew putting up decorations or wrapping gifts could actually burn calories?

Stephanie Bush of Gold’s Gym North Charlotte has a “no candy” rule for her sons’ Christmas stockings and even their grandparents have to follow it. “This is a crazy time of year because we are so focused on making it all about food. It starts at Halloween and doesn’t really end until Easter,” she says. She recommends going out for treats like ice cream instead of keeping junk food in the house. Although it might be a bit more expensive, it’s less costly to your waistline in the long run.

A positive mental attitude and willpower are essential through holiday festivities. However, factors like accountability and a support system are just as important when it comes to adhering to an exercise and diet plan.

One of the best ways to stay motivated is to recruit friends to join in. Find a friend, family member or neighbor who can be your “workout buddy,” and if you can’t find one, hire a personal trainer. “Having someone to hold you accountable, even just once or twice a week, can really make a difference in your workout regimen,” says Bush.

But even these professionals know that we’re only human, and once in a while we all fall off the bandwagon of health. Several experts agree that it’s important to let go of those little mistakes. “Take a look at what may have caused you to have fallen off, jump right back on, and also take it as a learning experience so you don’t do it again,” says Gallo.

Get back on track and continue eating healthfully the next day. Don’t skip meals to make up for overeating, and don’t go on an exercise binge to counteract excessive eating. According to Shelby Miller, master trainer at Sports and Fitness Clubs, you should focus on the big picture: “Develop coping strategies on how to manage stress during this busy time of year.”

Holiday health programs

University area gyms, trainers and fitness specialists are offering current and prospective members special programs to keep people healthy through the holidays. -The North Charlotte location of Gold’s Gym has a program for members going on now through Christmas. Every time a member participates in a fitness class or refers a new member, they get tickets. At the end of the contest, the person with the most tickets wins a prize.

-Total Nutrition Technology, which designs lifestyle and weight management programs, offers shorter plans for those who just want guidance and support over the holidays.

-Zumba Fitness (Kidz Play Here) offers individual classes for $5. This is a great solution for people who are really busy during the holidays and can’t commit to a schedule. (Childcare is also offered for $1 per child).

-CE-Fit (Core Elevation Fitness & Wellness) will come to you when you can’t make it to the gym. Lashonda and Johnnie Jones own and run this mobile fitness training business that can save you time driving to and from the gym. Check out their free online Holiday Survival Guide, which features hundreds of fitness and nutrition tips at