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Exercise Makes the Difference

But if those biggie fries are calling your name, go ahead and enjoy them once in awhile, says Carter, also an ADA spokeswoman. "Life's too short. Anyway, no one wakes up one morning weighing 600 or even 300 pounds. Just like one day in gym will not make you Arnold Schwarzenegger. It isn't one food, one day, that will make you fat."

Just remember, it all adds up.

"You can very easily put on a pound a week, or a pound a month by going overboard, by simply eating an extra 100 calories a day," she tells WebMD. "Calories go down a lot more easily than they are burnt off. When people realize how slowly you burn calories, it makes a difference. The difference it makes is cumulative over time."

"The key is to burn up those calories, and that's not as easy as most people think it is," Carter says. "You might burn 180 calories if you walk an hour -- but you haven't even burnt off half the calories of those biggie fries."

What you'll burn in an hour, if you weigh 110 lbs.:

  • Driving burns 115 calories
  • Mowing the lawn burns 225 calories
  • Yoga burns 200 calories
  • Skating burns 275 calories
  • Laundry burns 100 calories
  • Food shopping with cart burns 100 calories

In one study, people who lost weight -- and kept it off for five years -- were those who burned about 400 calories a day in exercise. They walked four miles a day. "They had to do it religiously, because not all of us have this wonderful metabolism. For most people, four miles is going to take about an hour."

Exercise has a way of tempering your cravings. "The more physically active you become, and more aware of how hard it is to burn off those calories, the easier it is to say, 'small fries is fine,'" says Carter.

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