It’s the Season of Eating: You can stay on track and motivated!

Halloween starts a downward spiral filled with chocolate and candy. Shorter days and less daylight make it easy to hit the snooze button or race home in the dark after work instead of hitting the gym. Although the odds seem stacked against you, don’t resign yourself to gaining an extra 5lbs between Thanksgiving to Christmas. There are lot’s of simple ways to stay on track with nutrition and fitness tips that just about anyone can fit into their busy holiday schedule.

It’s easy to lose the motivation to work out when days are shorter and schedules are packed with work and family holiday events. Men’s Fitness has some great suggestions for keeping your fitness regime on track during this busy time. They include planning your training routine at least one month in advance. Seeing your commitments on paper makes you’re more likely to stick to the plan. They also suggest fitting in workouts whenever you can – if you have work parties in the evenings or family get-togethers on the weekends, try to fit in a run in the morning instead. Another great – but painful tip – is to constantly evaluate yourself. Step on the scale once a week during the holidays to see if the weight is creeping up. At least your living in reality, because the scale never lies!

Reality is that you can’t out-train a bad diet. So even if you’re consistently hitting the gym, you could pack on a few pounds if you throw your healthy eating habits out the window during the holidays. The key is to not deny yourself the wonderful and delicious holiday foods, but to be aware of portion control and make tough choices. Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD of WebMD outlined her Top 10 Holiday Diet Tips of All Time, and they really are simple to follow. Holiday parties are usually filled with picky finger foods and a menagerie of main courses. Stay away from the cheese platters and salted nuts – they’re high in calories and you can eat that any time of year! Save your calories for the good stuff, like Auntie Em’s homemade cookies. WebMD also suggests eating a healthy breakfast and lunch, even if you know you’ll be having a big holiday dinner. This makes it less likely that you’ll over eat during what is likely to be a meal filled with high-calorie indulgences. Last, but certainly not least, limit your alcohol intake and switch it up with some water and seltzer in between the glasses of wine. Alcohol is high in calories and sugar, and we tend to drink more during these merry times.

So there’s really no reason you need to pack on that protective winter layer, when consistency and smart choices are really quite simple. Most cities have 5K ‘turkey trots’ on Thanksgiving morning to get a quick run in before chowing down, and holiday shopping has to burn a few calories, too. The key is to not deny yourself any of the delicious, once a year treats but to rather enjoy them in moderation and keep on track with healthy commitments.