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Aging Gracefully: Shop Till You Drop

Posted on Nov 01, 2017 in Shopping pounds away , Weightloss during holidays , November-December 2017

Shop Till You Drop (Pounds That Is) By Lori Leath Smith

With the holidays upon us (it seems to sneak up on me each year), and festivities abounding, I always get a little anxious about how I’m going to keep my waistline as it is. Add to extra-curricular holiday activities, the extra time shopping for holiday gifts means mostly being unable to add daily workouts.

As many readers of this column know, my initial weight-loss journey enabled me to lose 40 pounds! And, I certainly don’t want to overturn that progress because of the holidays. Like you, I want to enjoy this time of year with family and friends and still look good, while carrying confidence, rather than extra pounds, throughout the holidays. For too many years, my New Year’s resolution was to lose weight. It’s time to move on.

Last year, I reported that shopping burns calories — and lots of them! Actually, I’m the type of person that likes to shop only when there’s something to shop for. In this case, the holidays dictate. So, as a woman on a mission (lovingly dubbed by my children), I can reap double benefits this time of year by making a daily walk around the shops in Seaside, as well as finish my shopping before the holiday parties, gift giving and family gatherings.

If I know I can offset a little of my holiday party “taste-testing” and Thanksgiving and Christmas Day food fests with some heavy-duty shopping, I’m more motivated to shop ‘till I drop (the holiday pounds, that is)!

And then, I don’t feel so guilty about having that bite of Great Southern Café cheesecake (a favorite), a Five Daughters Bakery paleo crusher or an extra helping of sweet potato casserole. After all, I don’t want to miss out on enjoying the holidays. And, by thinking of my holiday “shopping” in a positive way, I figure I can shop the calories off and, hopefully, offset any extra pounds.

While researching the amount of calories burned while shopping, I discovered that a 150-pound person can burn roughly 100 calories in 38 minutes of shopping, or approximately 160 per hour, according to Though the amount of calories burned while shopping depends on body weight, the average person can burn almost 400 calories and cover almost three miles on a shopping trip in 2.5 hours of browsing in stores, according to a study commissioned by Debenhams, a British multinational retailer. That’s the equivalent of a piece of carrot cake or two large glasses of red Seaside wine!

Just two hours could work off the 283 calories in a typical Amavida latte coffee, based on an average body weight of 175 pounds, walking at an average speed of 3 mph. According to Nutrition ATC (, an easygoing shopper can accrue about three miles of walking during a three-hour period. Add standing and looking at merchandise or standing in line to make purchases to the equation, and it can add up to roughly 400 calories for a 100-pound person, 750 calories for a 200-pound person, and 1,100 calories for a 300-pound person.

While those stats are conservative, a more aggressive shopper might be able to walk as many as five miles in a three-hour shopping spree. And if he or she is doing a lot of fidgeting, reaching for merchandise and waving at friends, a 100-pound person on average can burn 500 calories and a 200- to 300-pound shopper up to 1,000 calories or more.

Women take an average 7,305 steps each time they head out to actively shop, almost three quarters the 10,000 daily number recommended by the National Health Service (NHS) of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Add to that the weight of bags full of bargains and I’ve had a workout worthy of the gym. Further, if you have an iPhone, you can view how many steps you’ve taken on the Health app. On the Android, view on Google Fit. It lets you know how many more steps you might need, if any, to reach the recommended 10,000 steps per day. You can calculate your own hourly calories burned by visiting There you can log in your weight and shopping duration, and viola!

I’ve calculated that my shopping burns approximately 160-165 calories per hour. And, my leg muscles benefit most (from all the walking). Arms also get a good workout from carrying shopping bags.

I’m not a proponent for counting calories as the only method for weight loss. But, I want to offer a perspective for comparison. If I shop for three hours, I can burn off approximately 495 calories. If I hit the shops for six hours, I can burn off some of the “day of” meals. That means I can enjoy some of the following holiday favorites!

• 8 ounce cup of Eggnog – 340 calories; spiked with 2 ounce rum = 470

• 1 cup (a few handfuls) of Puppy Chow (a sort of trail mix, for people, not dogs) – (92 calories per 1/4 cup = 402)

• Pecan Pie (1/8 inch of 9-inch diameter = 456)

• Apple Cider (1 cup = 120 calories)

• Turkey (6 ounce serving = 240 calories)

• Dressing (1 cup = 400 calories)

• Ham (3 ounces = 210 calories)

• 2 by 4 by 1/2-inch slice fruitcake = 450 calories

• Sweet Potato Casserole (1 cup = 239 calories)

• Green Bean Casserole (1 cup = 142 calories)

Below are practical tips that helped me immensely last year and I bet you’ll benefit, too:

• Exercise — shopping, walking and carrying those heavy bags, helps relieve holiday stress and prevent weight gain.

• Be realistic. And simply aim to maintain your current weight.

• Carry your own holiday packages, then unload them after every stop.

• If you’re going to buy something at 10 different shops, walk to your vehicle between each store—that’s extra steps!

• To encourage yourself to make those multiple trips to the parking lot or to take the stairs instead of elevators, wear a pedometer. A pedometer really encourages you to get moving. Since you have to go shopping, you might as well get a workout while you’re doing it.

• Keep your pace brisk and you can burn 250-300 calories an hour.

• Use a workout tracker, which helps keep you aware of your accomplishments while while you shop.

• Log your meals. A benefit of devices like those from Fitbit, Larklife, and Jawbone, are that they enable you to adjust your calorie limit for the day. Then you’ll know whether you can have that second helping of green bean casserole.

• Eat something light before a party to curb your appetite. Once there, you’ll be less tempted to over-indulge.

• Survey all the party food offerings before you choose. Then keep it to your favorites. Hopefully, vegetables and fruits are offered.

• Savor your favorite holiday treats while eating small portions.

• Be careful of the liquids. I like to drink soda water with lime. While I’m shopping a lot, I might have a glass or two of wine.

• If you overeat at one meal, go light on the next. It takes 500 calories per day (or 3,500 calories per week) above your normal/ maintenance consumption to gain one pound. It is impossible to gain weight from one piece of pecan pie!

• If you have a favorite healthy dish, take it to serve at your holiday gathering. You’ll probably find that others love it, too!

Instead of the holiday mindset of gaining an extra pound or two, by focusing on a healthy balance of food, shopping and fun, I believe we can better sustain our current health. Maybe a little Seaside “shop ‘til you drop” mentality—not, WHAT shopping we must do, but what shopping can DO for us! Does the holiday shopping sound a little better now?