Candy canes lead to long walks in the skyway

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January 27, 2003 // UPDATED 4:23 pm - April 27, 2007
By: Julie Swenson
Julie Swenson

Christmas calories lead to not-so-drastic measures

I miss Christmas. This past season I went to Holidazzle four times and visited Paddington Bear at Marshall Field's so many times I've been dreaming that little old Paddy is my new boyfriend. I also got to one of those pricey shows, the Rockettes (thanks to aunt Linda), and ate dinner at Murray's (thanks to Mom). But the highlight of the season was the sight of an ex-sweetheart dressed in lights Holidazzling down Nicollet Mall. I'd always wondered what happened to him after he left me for a Pet Shop Boy.

I do have a couple souvenirs of the season I need to get rid of a.s.a.p. -- my newly developed second and third chins (thanks to candy-cane pie, candy-cane ice cream, sugar cookies and regular candy canes).

This year, I will actually exercise and get rid of the extra chins. Obsessively trying on shoes at Saks Off Fifth won't do it. Neither will lunch at Mrs. Field's Cookies. So what's a girl to do? How can you shape up when you spend all day cooped up in an office and candy is your only happiness when it's not quite time to leave the office? I'm no expert, but I'll share with you a little of my trivial knowledge.

First, the health clubs downtown are a booming business. In Minnesota we have one of the highest number of health clubs per capita in the U.S. This is the right place to be. Possibilities are endless.

If you have the right wardrobe you can visit The Firm at 245 Aldrich Ave. N. for drop-in classes or their new open gym upstairs. You'll have to put on the right attitude though; this isn't the place for the easily intimidated or insecure. I wouldn't recommend it until after you've lost that first 30 pounds.

The old standby Y is one of my favorites. It's skyway-accessible but you have to remember that bored students in evening classes at St. Thomas can see across the block and into the open gym. The more entrepreneurial students place bets on the exercisers to see who will last longest.

Then there's Lifetime at 1300 Nicollet Ave., and Holy Toledo, is it posh! It's also really expensive. If I had a membership I'd be sleeping on the floor of the spa every night to justify the price. This is one of those places where a workout is more like a mini-vacation.

If you like to be anonymous and don't need posh anything, the Arena Club at the Target Center could be your place. It's big, sterile and no one's going to notice if you gain or lose a pound. Right now, I like the thought of no one I know seeing me in workout clothes.

The biggest thing wrong with all health clubs is that you have to pay to use them. I'm in major penny-pinching mode right now. I'm not spending money on anything but food, gas and Gucci shoes, and then only if I find them on sale. If you are like me, you'll need a free and convenient exercise option. That would be walking briskly through the skyways. No stopping at Mrs. Fields. Keep going on down to the Jamba Juice smoothie stand and drink your vitamins and five servings of fruits and veggies.

I have always thought you burn more calories in the cold. I have no idea if this is true, but it seems like it would be because your body has to work harder to pump more blood through it to keep you warm when it's really cold outside. So that means you can get the same results from walking around outside in the cold for 10 minutes as you would walking around the skyways for 20. The bummer is that on the street you will inevitably be faced with a herd of smokers huddled on your route to better health. And the fact that you could get frostbite out there.

Given the options, I'll take the romp in the skyway any day. See you in the fast lane!

While she is not de-chinning, Julie Swenson ( is also owner of Abbas Public Relations.