Ho-Ho-Hold the Stress

Ho-Ho-Hold the Stress

45 - Try the free two-week guest club membership at Bally.
Now when you spend Xmas at Aunt Stinky's in Atlanta, you don't have to worry about not staying in shape, or in her doily-infested crap hole (ballyfitness.com).

44 - Treat your friend.
Make sure to include your very best friend or friends on your gift-buying list. Guys are often pleasantly surprised to get a present from one of their male friends.

43 - Mix your booze.
Have a glass of water for every glass of alcohol or eggnog you suck down. The agua fills you up and stops friends from offering to get you yet another drink.

42 - Switch to wine.
Go grape for its modest calorie count of 125 per glass and artery-protecting polyphenols.

41 - You be the chef.
Appoint yourself the cook for the event and make it more healthy without resorting to Tofurky. Smear a capsule of vitamin-E gel, a free-radical scavenger, over the basting turkey to break up carcinogens. If stir-frying, use a 50/50 oil-water mix instead of 100% oil to cut calories, lower temperature, and slow trans-fat development.

40 - Go deep. And dark.
A good after-dinner snack is dark chocolate. Since recent studies showed it's high in antioxidants and may lower blood pressure, people have been gobbling it up like, um, candy.

39 - Shop late-night.
Maximize your time once you get going by avoiding crowds. Shop 24-hour stores such as Home Depot—power drills for everyone!

38 - Try the Swimman Underwater MP3 player.
Stay in the holiday spirit by doing the backstroke to Bing Crosby's heartwarming rendition of "The 12 Days of Christmas" ($249; swimman.com; 800-794-6626).

37 - Take it on the road.
If there are no fitness facilities at granny's crib (that rec room in her basement doesn't qualify), take a Jam Gym (6-oz. straps that attach to doors for rowing and presses) or a self-inflating basketball.

36 - Tell it like it is.
Deal with the party hosts in the same way you deal with your houseguests: honestly and in advance. Prioritize your parties and let the hosts know how long you intend to stay. That way, if you stay for only 30 minutes, they won't have to spend the time and money making dinner for you.

35 - Go your own way.
"The best way to cut stress is to blow off the holidays and go traveling," says Bruce Northam, author of Globetrotter Dogma. (See "Forget the Family," page 44.) Instead, travel to a locale that doesn't usually celebrate the holiday. They're the least crowded.

34 - Walk it off.
Take a 20-minute post-meal walk, says Carl Foster, Ph.D., of the Human Performance Research Lab at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. "A one-mile ‘dine and dash' reduces the flood of glucose and insulin in the bloodstream by 20%, burning up to 100 calories."

33 - Make a trip out of it.
Even if you're traveling to see relatives, get a hotel with excerise facilities and take a few extra days to rest, unwind, and work out.

32 - Fly right.
Thanksgiving and Christmas Day are actually good travel days, believe it or not, but New Year's Day is not. Best trick: Travel the weekend before Christmas, since most people work the beginning of the week before Christmas, then fly to their holiday destination.

31 - Leave from the burbs.
When you fly from smaller airports, shorter and faster security lines could mean you don't have to arrive as early. Example: Exchange nightmarish Los Angeles International Airport for nearby Ontario, Long Beach, or Orange County.

30 - Package it.
If you must go last-second, check for "bundled" deals—flight, car rental, and hotel. They're often available late and can be surprisingly low-priced, considering how desperate you are.


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