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Here's a proposition sure to have you groaning bah humbug: You need to start your diet before the holidays. If your plan is to indulge in the excesses of the season and then clamp down in the New Year, you're only getting further from your weight-loss goals and making it harder to meet them.

"It's very easy to gain between four to seven pounds over the Christmas holidays," says Marilena Bombino, co-owner of Weight Solution Inc., in Edmonton. "And it's very, very hard to reel yourself back in." But for those of you who want to eat, drink and be merry, you should know what you'll have to do to work it off.

1 box of Turtles = 2,340 calories

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Balance the scales: 4.15 hours of snowshoeing.

Christmas dinner (turkey, all the trimmings and 2 slices of pie) = 4,575 calories

Balance the scales: 4 hours of jogging, 3 hours of ice skating, 5 hours of lifting weights and 3 hours of walking around your neighbourhood delivering holiday cards.

Office holiday party (including 4 glasses of wine, and 6 hors d'oeuvre) = 2,074 calories

Balance the scales: 3 hours of cleaning your house to get it ready for the in-laws, 3 hours of nature hiking and 2 hours of tobogganing with the kids.

1 glass of eggnog and 1 candy cane = 453 calories

Balance the scales: Head to a tree farm, walk around to find just the right tree and cut it down. Repeat 4 times and then spend 30 minutes wrapping gifts.

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5 tall hot chocolates from Starbucks = 1,650 calories

Balance the scales: 4.4 hours of shovelling snow.

Sources: caloriecount.about.com; dietbites.com; fitsugar.com











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About the Author

Dave McGinn writes about fitness trends for the Life section and also reports for Globe Arts. Prior to joining the Globe, he was a freelance journalist, covering topics from trying to eat Michael Phelps' diet to why the Joker is the best villain in comics history. He's working on improving his 10k time. More

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