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Trainer Kathleen Trotter performs a reverse lunge

Soon it will be the season of overindulgence, but you don't have to suffer a cookie-swap hangover. Use our six-week program to stay on top of your diet and workouts.

Trainer Kathleen Trotter gives you an exercise regimen so you can rock that killer outfit and still sip eggnog, while dietitian Leslie Beck offers lifestyle challenges to make for guilt-free holidays

Here's week one of the program. Click on the links within the text to see video demonstrations of each exercise.

Check back every week for the next six weeks for each new installment.

The basics

What you need:

- A resistance ball, some free weights and a mat. Pick a weight light enough that you can perform your repetitions using proper form. On the final repetition of the final set, you should feel like that was the last repetition you could have completed with good form.

What you need to know:

- The program consists of two circuits. At the end of a circuit, take a one-minute rest and then repeat the circuit, for a total of three times through each circuit.

Cardio intervals:

- Before each circuit, do two to five minutes of "high knees" - alternate bringing each knee up toward your chest and lowering it again. Advanced: Add a hop in-between knee lifts to make it high impact.

The program

Beginners: Strength training: Two sessions a week on non-consecutive days. Cardio: Two to three sessions a week.

Advanced: Strength training: Two to three sessions a week on non-consecutive days. Cardio: Three sessions a week, including one interval session.

Strength training

Circuit 1

1. Bench press

Beginners: Lie on your back with your legs bent and feet on the floor. Holding a weight in each hand, start with your arms at a 90-degree angle on the floor beside you. Press the weights up over your chest and then slowly lower (12-15 repetitions).

Advanced: Perform the bench press with your head and shoulders on a resistance ball with your feet on the floor and your hips up in the air (12-15 reps).

2. Wide row with stomach on ball

Beginner and advanced: Place your chest on a resistance ball and your feet against a wall so that you do not slip. Holding a weight in each hand, place your arms on the floor on either side of the ball. Row your elbows up to a 90-degree angle using your upper back to do the work. Lower and repeat (12-15 reps).

3. Lunges

Beginner: Place the resistance ball between your lower back and the wall. Place your right foot forward and your left foot back, almost to the wall. Make sure both feet are facing forward. Bend both knee and lower your body toward the floor. Make sure your front knee does not go further forward then your shoelaces. Engage your front bum cheek muscle and straighten back up to the starting position (six reps each leg).

Advanced: Do the lunges without the support of the ball. Start with your feet together. Step your right foot back into a lunge. Engage your left bum muscles to bring the right leg back to the starting position (10 reps, then switch to the left leg for 10).

Circuit 2

1. Biceps curl to shoulder press

Beginner and advanced: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, shoulders back and core tight. Hold a weight in each hand. Curl both hands up toward your shoulders and then press the weights up over your head. Slowly return back to the starting position (12-15 reps).

2. French press

Beginner: Lie on your back with your legs bent and feet on the floor. Hold a weight in each hand and straighten your arms directly over your shoulders. Keep your upper arms still and bend at your elbows so the weights come down to either side of your ears. Finish by straightening your arms back up to the starting position (12-15 reps).

Advanced: Put your feet up on a resistance ball. The form for the French press is exactly the same as above, but as you straighten your arms lift your hips up in the air. As you lower the weights, lower your hips (12-15 reps).

3. Plank

Beginner: Lie on your stomach and come up onto your forearms and your knees. Make sure your hips to your shoulders make a straight line. Do not round or arch your back and make sure your core muscles are engaged (hold 10-30 seconds).

Advanced: The exercise is the same as above, but come up onto your toes instead of your knees (hold 20 seconds to one minute).

To see videos of Kathleen demonstrating proper technique for all of these exercises, go to


Beginners: Aim for 30-minute sessions. Keep your heart rate 60-85 per cent of your max for the duration of your workout. Try to do a different cardio activity for each of the workouts - walk on the treadmill one day and then use the bike on the next day.

Advanced: Two of your cardio workouts should be 30-45 minutes in duration. Keep your heart rate 60-85 per cent of your max. Try to do different activities for each of your workouts. Also, include one day of interval training: Do a five-minute warm-up and then do five sets in which you alternate two minutes of intense effort with three minutes of more moderate activity. Cool down for five minutes.

Leslie Beck's nutrition tip: Keep a food diary

One of the biggest assets in making dietary change is a food diary. Whether you use a pad of paper or a bound journal, document the foods you eat each day this week. Write down at what times you ate, what you ate and how much, and any overriding emotions that were present at the time. Record your food intake after each meal. Don't wait until the end of the day or you'll likely forget a few foods.

Your food diary can provide a huge amount of self-awareness. It will highlight in black and white the foods you are eating and the foods you are not eating. It will make you think twice about eating that extra helping at dinner or the sweets at the office.

Assess your food record each day: What did you notice? No fruit? Not enough vegetables? No breakfast? Too many sweets? Portion sizes larger than you thought?

Leslie Beck

Special to The Globe and Mail