Gaining weight during the holidays is almost considered an expected annual affair to be dealt with once the new year arrives.

Afterall, there are Christmas cookies and homemade fudge and family feasts.

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But it doesn't have to be that way. Making a break from that tradition this year could be as simple as incorporating three numbers - two by 15 by 15.

Tony Schiller, a world champion athlete and noted inspirational speaker who will be in the lakes area in January, refers to it as "BreakAway" thinking. Using terms often associated with his athletic experience as a triathlete, Schiller said imagery is about taking action today and not waiting for something or a future date like Jan. 1 to start on the path toward a better future. He said the idea is to start now, today.

"Enter the race of health and fitness today, carry it right through the holidays and reach New Year's without a need for a resolution," Schiller said.

Instead, by the new year, people could already have established good habits that will take them forward.

"We all reinforce the thinking that this is a time of year to be less active. It's dark. This is the time of year to gain weight," Schiller said. "This is the time of year to not feel as motivated. And it's just phooey. And the breakaway mindset is this is the time of year to be our best. This is the time of year to be energized."

This is the time of year to get some fun fresh new ways of working out, he said.

People, even children, can go three or four or five days without real movement. But a plan that sounds simple can change that, he said, by waking the body up.

Schiller said as he closes in on 60, he feels he's in the best shape of his life. Schiller is the winner of 79 triathlons and has 12 U.S. and six world age titles. He speaks to groups, whether they are school children or corporate gatherings or community ones, about achieving results in the race that is one's life.

Schiller said as he gets older one thing has changed and that's how he thinks of a workout or exercise time, which has made a marked difference for him. It's a move away from thinking a workout requires a lot of time.

"I've completely revolutionized my thinking on that," he said, noting the last thing people want to think about is securing an hour or more to exercise or go to gym when they have work and family obligations as well. "Now my thinking is how do I get five minutes in the next hour where I am moving."

This can mean little changes. Schiller said he used to drive back and forth looking for the closest parking stall at work but later go to a two-hour workout. Now he looks to see how fast he can move from the parking stall farther away. He incorporates five-minute stretch breaks.

"I do a ton of fast walking sessions," Schiller said. "I will now and then will throw in some push-ups."

He often starts the day with a 1-mile walk, jog, run with his dog and folds it into the plan.

"It just changes your attitude, your sense of being awake, your sense of joy," Schiller said. "I find I can do a 1-mile hike or walk or job before bedtime. ... These are things almost anyone of any ability can do. So the key word is frequency - frequency of movement."

Two by 15 by 15

Schiller said the breakaway thinking is get outside in the winter and move, even if it's only for a few minutes, even on the coldest days.

Schiller said as a way to do this, make it a personal challenge of two by 15 by 15. That's 15 minute sessions or more of walking or stretching or yoga or being on the exercise bike twice a day for 15 days.

"And it's magical," Schiller said.

Schiller said he's heard from many people who start an exercise program and then are sore after a short time and may quit early. But by limiting it to the 15 minute sessions, he said the results are life changing.

"By the end of the 15 days-and I've heard this from everyone-they can't believe how snappy they feel because they've actually had a minimum of 30 sessions in 15 days. None of them were very difficult, but they are moving like crazy. And at the end of the 15 days the body is waking up."

That movement, particularly the frequency of it, creates a craving in the body for activity, he said.

"There is magic in the multiple sessions and high frequency count," Schiller said.

For him the more frequent workouts fit with a more natural rhythm with the body than getting in an hour at the gym three times a week.

Schiller will be the keynote speaker for the Crow Wing Energized health summit Jan. 29 and will be speaking to groups of school children as well during his lakes area visit.

RENEE RICHARDSON, associate editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at