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Volunteer to do the dishes. Studies show that the energy you

burn outside the gym (called "nonexercise activity thermogenesis," or

N.E.A.T., for you science buffs out there) can be greater than what you're burning

during your regimented exercise routines. You can raise your N.E.A.T. by simply staying on your feet and doing

some sort of activity - like helping out in the kitchen - instead of

heading right to the couch.

More From Marie Claire

Another reason to take a stand against weight gain: Sitting

shuts down your fat burners. After examining the muscle tissue of people being

active and of those kicking back, researchers concluded that parking your butt

switches off an enzyme that prevents fat storage. Keep in mind, you burn one more

calorie per minute when standing than when you are sitting.

After eating wait 2 hours, then go for a walk or run. It'll

help keep you out of the leftovers. In a recent San Diego State University

study, scientists found that that people who exercised after they ate

maintained lower hunger levels 5 hours longer than those who exercised before a

meal. Researchers haven't yet

pinned down the mechanism, but speculate that exercise may lower the

concentrations of a peptide-YY, a hormone that increases appetite. The study

participants worked out 2 to 3 hours after they ate. So plan accordingly. Your

relatives will flip when you bust out your running shoes!

Clip on some motivation. Turns out, simply wearing a

pedometer can make you more active. British researchers discovered that when

study participants wore pedometers and logged their daily steps in a journal,

they increased their activity level by 16 percent. A food diary works in the same way too. Start writing down

what you eat. It will freak you out when you step back and see the whole


Here's the best one and something I didn't know. You need to

get a good night's sleep. Just one night of poor shuteye makes you crave

fast food, reports a study from Baruch College, in New York City. The reason:

people just don't feel like cooking when they're tired and irritable. This one

sounds a bit cray but it could be true. ?? I sleep way too much and fast food grosses me out. Except on

a road trip.

Here's some more grossness: people who regularly consume two

fast-food meals weekly gain an extra 10 pounds over 15 years, compared with

those who eat more meals at home.

Start lifting weights for the holidays. Women who lift

weights shed 5 pounds more fat than women who don't pump iron. Why? Because

you'll increase the amount of metabolism-boosting muscle on your body. Remember lifting weights has been shown

to raise the rate your body burns fat for up to 39 hours after you work out.

And one final nibble to pass along: when you're out,

remember that some of the most calorie-laden items you'll consume during the

holidays are drinks.

What do you think?