It’s that time of year again. Soon you’ll be surrounded by pies, cakes, cookies, and candies. Your willpower will be pushed and tested to extremes. The average person will gain 5-15 pounds during the holidays. Lack of time leads to more stress, less physical activity, and unhealthy eating habits. Can you survive this food-filled season of eating? With a few simple steps you can.

1) Increase/intensify your cardiovascular activity. Calories in equals calories out. If you know your calorie intake is going to increase, then your workouts must also increase (to avoid weight gain). Add in some high intensity moves to your routine to boost your calorie burn (jumping jacks, stair running, jumping rope, squat jumps, split jumps, step-ups, mountain climbers, etc.). Remember to keep up with your strength training routine as well. The more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism will be (allowing you to burn more calories). Make a pact with yourself. If you’re going to eat the “goodie” then promise yourself to work it off that same day. This also makes you think before you eat. Is that 500-calorie dessert worth your exercise efforts?

2) Move more to lose more! While in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, add more steps into your daily routine to help fight the battle of the bulge.
a) Park further away.
b) Walk around the house or march in place while you talk on the phone.
c) Exercise while watching television.
d) Carry your shopping bags in one bag at a time.
e) Exercise on your lunch hour.
f) Take the stairs.
g) Involve you family in an after dinner exercise activity.

3) Snack before the party. There are always higher calorie foods at a party. Instead of going to a party when you’re famished, have a healthy snack before you leave. Have a plan. Think ahead of time about the amount of food you feel good about consuming to stay within your calorie limits. If you’re going to eat sweets, pick a small one and really enjoy it. Don’t go overboard and view a party as a license to eat everything.

4) Host a “Healthy Holiday” party. Everyone struggles with temptations during the holidays. Alleviate the problem by throwing a healthy food party. Have your guests bring healthy, low-calorie dishes. Have recipe cards available for those who want to share their secrets. Offer a prize for best tasting!

5) Be mindful of liquid calories. One cup of eggnog contains 343 calories ( Spike it with alcohol and you’ve got a drink that is as caloric as a meal! Soda, alcohol, fruit juices, cider, milk, and your specialty coffee shop favorites all have calories. A great way to cut calories anytime of the year is to avoid drinking these types of beverages.

6) Drink Water. Most of the population is dehydrated. Dehydration can cause false hunger signals. Carry your water with you throughout the event. You’ll stay refreshed during conversations and have something else to put in your mouth besides food.

7) Socialize. Instead of focusing on food, focus on the people. Make a point to engage in conversation with each guest. Here are some conversation openers: What are you thankful for? Tell me about your family. What do you like to do during your spare time? You’ll be surprised what you might learn from other people. Maybe you’ll make a new friend. Plus, your mind will be off of the food table.

8) Have a contest. Buddy up with a friend, spouse, co-worker or relative and see who can either keep the most weight off during the holiday season or even lose weight. The winner gets a prize (massage, money, trip to the spa, house cleaning, etc.). Obviously, food should not be a prize option.

Remember, we are all human. If you fall off the wagon, get back on with a vengeance! Don’t use the holidays as an excuse to go overboard. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy your family and friends during this special time of year!

Author's Bio: 

Wendy Stoll is a certified personal trainer with over 18 years of experience. She specializes in exercise program design for women. Wendy can be reached at 517-327-1992, or