Set goals to stay on the health wagon this season Most holidays are associated with specific foods and activities, many of which aren’t healthy and aren’t a part of our normal routine. It’s too easy—and more enjoyable—to become relaxed and indulge in all the holiday glutton. But, if we want to avoid paying the price come January, it’s better to make a plan now that can keep us on track.

Adults gain, on average, more than a pound of body weight during the winter holidays—and are not at all likely to shed that weight the following year. The news is worse for those already overweight who can gain up to an extra five pounds per holiday season versus just one. The good news is people who report the most physical activity through the holiday season show the least weight gain; some even manage to lose weight.

Brad Downs, ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Specialist and owner of Mountain Fitness ( and trainer at the Fort Collins Club, says most people with whom he works simply want to know how to stay on track with the goals they already have. He says, “I think the best approach is simple: be mindful. And that’s different for everyone.” Nonetheless, Downs recommends a few tips from which most people can draw as they put together goals for the holiday season.

Adjust weekly goals as needed

Slight adjustments with both with fitness and nutrition matter. Keep it basic: If you know the coming week includes a holiday party, also plan into your schedule more time for exercise.

Control your portions

Don’t mindlessly snack on everything on the party spread. Choose to eat what you LOVE and avoid the things you only like. You don’t have to be logging food intake to be in control of portions, either, Downs says. “It really can be as simple as don’t eat a lot at once.”

Stick to your normal diet

Even when you’re planning to indulge in treats at a party or event, eat throughout the day as you normally would. Downs says, “Too many people ‘save up room’ or make the entire day a wash (cheat day) but it’s actually better to just stick to the normal routine and have the treats on top of that.”

Stay hydrated

Dehydration masks itself as hunger. Downs says, “When you’re hydrated, all of your body systems work better and you’ll have more energy for exercise, which is important if you’re planning to do more of it than normal.”

Manage stress

Get in your daily workout, meditation, yoga, or hike. “People get so stressed over the holidays for various reasons (family, kids, spending money). But if you go into parties stressed, it’s more likely you may eat or drink that stress away,” Downs says.

“Allow your goal-setting to be specific to you,” Downs says, “if you LOVE pumpkin pie, just eat it. But then, maybe run a few extra minutes that morning.” The key is being mindful and planning ahead; think of holiday habits like you do budgeting money: Do you want to blow it on garbage or on a very special, one-of-a-kind item or event?