The dreaded holiday weight gain that seems to sneak up on us each year isn’t attributed solely to a few extra slices of pie. Sure, we eat more, but we also tend to move less during this period of time. Our to-do list is a mile long and sometimes making time for the gym is the first thing to go.

Any time we gain body fat, it is due to eating more calories than we are burning. For that reason, it’s both those extra cookies and spending less time at the gym that can lead to added pounds.

Luckily, structured exercise isn’t your only option, and that’s where NEAT comes into play.

NEAT, or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, is categorized as any physical movement that isn’t exercise or sports.

So even though we can expect that we’ll eat more at upcoming work parties and family dinners, we can balance out those extra calories by also trying to move more. Here are some ways you can increase your NEAT, even if you’re short on time:

Take a (little) break

If you’re anything like me, you may look at your watch at 11:00 AM and realize you haven’t even stood up from your desk since you got to work.  Try setting a reminder alarm for every hour or two to stand up and walk a one-minute loop around your office area. If you can stand while you work, even better!

Choose a longer route

It’s cold. You’ve got places to be. I get it. But rather than waiting or fighting for a good parking spot at the front of the store, park further away and you can spend the same amount of time fitting in a few extra steps. Going up? Take the stairs rather than the elevator.

Do more together

Have kids? How about a dog? If you have either, they probably like attention and they probably like to move. Make your bonding time movement time -- even with your partner or friends.  Whether you spend your time walking or playing, you can take the opportunity to move a little more while also having fun and spending time with someone you love.


If you find yourself standing in line a lot, you can shift from foot to foot or pace a little.  Even something as small as fidgeting increases your NEAT!

Take a walk before the food coma sets in

I know it’s tempting to want to cuddle up on the couch for a nice nap after a big meal. Instead of immediately winding down, go on a post-meal walk first. Research has found that this post-meal walk can aid in digestion and blood sugar control, but it also is just another way to get that NEAT up and keep you moving.

While these little things may not seem like a lot (tapping my foot can help me with my weight loss goals!?), those small changes really add up!

We know the holidays can be tough when you have nutrition goals, but there are so many ways to enjoy the season while still feeling your best. We have so much good stuff we want to share that we can’t share it all here, so be sure to sign up for our email list where we’ll be sharing our BEST tips each Friday in a weekly email. Have any specific questions about tackling this holiday season? Leave ‘em below!