The holiday season is among us, and this is the time of the year when families and friends come together, spend time with each other, and enjoy great food. This time of the year is also when the bulk of weight gain can happen, so if you don’t want this to happen to you and make your New Year’s fitness resolution easier, then here are some tips to help you get through the holiday season:

1. Make an exercise game-plan on the holiday (Thanksgiving Day, Christmas) – If you’re heading to a family members for the holiday or they’re coming to you, create a workout plan (resistance training, cardio) that you can do. Most people want to relax and spend time with everyone during the holidays, but make sure you make time for yourself and your health.

2. Use your family & friends for motivation, accountability, and workout partners – When you’re with your family and friends during the holidays, get them on your workout plan! Invite them to join you, help motivate them and have them motivate you. This will create accountability, and an interesting workout. How often do you workout with your parents, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, etc.?

3. Cardio in the morning – Getting your cardio done in the morning will not only expend calories early in the day and prepare yourself for the big feasts, but it will also make you hungry and minimize some guilt for eating a few desserts.

4. Have a pre-workout meal – Treat one holiday meal as your pre-workout meal! This meal will act as your fuel for your intense workout, and it will also allow you to have multiple meals throughout the day! That’s a benefit in my eyes.

5. Have a post-workout meal – Not only can you use a holiday meal as a pre-workout meal, but you can also have another for post-workout too! This meal will act as your recovery meal to help your body repair itself after your intense workout. This is also when you can have some dessert and not feel guilty (pending you trained hard).

6. Limit starchy carbohydrates throughout the day – Holiday meals have many types of food. Some of the foods consumed are considered starchy carbohydrates (potatoes, yams, pasta, bread, grains, etc.), these types of foods will raise your blood sugar fast, which raises your insulin (storage hormone) levels, and if you don’t plan on burning off these carbohydrates through exercise, then it’d be wise to limit these types of foods, or consume them during pre/post-workout.

7. Offer yourself to help prep/cooking – Don’t make the holidays a reason or excuse to be lazy. If exercising isn’t an option and/or you want to add some extra movements to the day, then offer yourself to help those who’re cooking. This is not only a nice gesture, but it keeps you active, and being active equal’s energy expenditure.

8. Pace yourself – This may just be me, it may relate to others as well, but when it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas and there’s so much good food, I can’t help myself but eat faster than I normally do because I want seconds, thirds, and so on. Try to pace yourself, eat what you put on your plate, and know that there’s food to go around, there will be seconds.

9. Smart choices – Similar to Tip #6, understanding nutrition will help you make better/smarter food choices during the holidays. Eat your protein with good fats and vegetables (minimizing your starchy carbohydrates) or eat your protein with low fats, starchy carbohydrates and vegetables (I would recommend option 2 for pre/post-workout).

10. Relax – After all it’s the holidays! These days shouldn’t be a time of stress, but a time of joy and happiness with family and friends. Results don’t come easy, but trying some of these tips will help you stay on track towards your fitness goals, and not drive you completely insane during the holidays.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!