We've officially survived Thanksgiving, but the looming holiday season battle of the bulge is still upon us. With parties and cookie swaps on the horizon, it's easy to overlook calories and lose motivation this time of year. Here are 10 small steps you can take to not only keep you on track now, but give you a leg up on your New Year's resolution.
1. Put new workout gear on your gift wish list. It sounds superficial but nice workout gear really can make you feel better during a workout and be an incentive to get you moving. Those breathable, comfortable and flattering fabrics can get pricey, though, which is why adding them to your gift wish list is a win-win. Your friends and family will enjoy giving you the gift of better health and you'll enjoy exercising more.
2. Weigh-in weekly. The point isn't to obsess over every pound or two, but crossing paths with a scale once a week can be used as an early warning system for preventing weight gain. In one study, 75 percent of individuals who had successfully maintained weight loss weighed themselves weekly. If you don't own or don't like using a scale, a well-fitting pair of pants can give you just as much insight.
3. Make sure to log activity. Logging food and exercise keeps us accountable, but it can be slightly more burdensome, and maybe even a little bit scary this time of year with all of those tempting holiday party hors d'oeuvres, desserts and cocktails around. Taking the extra minute or two to log those Pigs in a Blanket and that pomegranate martini can allow you to better budget calories and plan an extra workout in advance, so you can stay on top of your goals.
4. Take a weight-loss vacation. If weight loss is a goal, put it on the back burner during the holidays. Just aim not to gain any weight instead. In the grand scheme of things, taking a short amount of time off from trying to lose weight won't hurt, but being overly ambitious in the face of all of these holiday indulgences might be just discouraging enough to make you give up altogether.
5. Sign up for a New Year's race. New Year's Day races are great because training will keep you active during the hectic holiday season. Sign up friends and family members for more fun, support and motivation. Just search the Web for a New Year's Day race near you.
6. Plan one active outing for every holiday celebration. Coordinate a family hike or sign up for a special workout class with a friend before the party begins.
7. Focus on food and fitness Monday through Friday. You're probably already on a schedule during the week so build as many healthful meals and workouts into your usual weekday routine. This will give you a little wiggle room — and an excuse to indulge or kick back and relax a bit more on the weekends.
8. Earn your treats before you indulge. Treats aren't really enjoyable if they just leave you feeling guilty afterward. Eat healthfully the day before heading out to that holiday party or work up a sweat before sitting down to a big holiday meal. You'll likely enjoy what you eat even more if you know you've earned it.
9. Remix your recipes. We all have holiday dish traditions, but sometimes making just one simple ingredient swap or poking around the Internet for a healthier version of your favorite recipe can make a huge difference.
10. Don't wait until January to start exercising. It's been shown that frequent exercise usually drops to its lowest point in December. So now is the perfect time to get to know your way around a new gym, find an exercise class you love and introduce yourself to a new trainer. Fewer people will be exercising, which means you'll get more attention. Getting your foot in the door will give you a jump-start, and an advantage over all those folks trying to make good on their New Year's resolutions. Plus, exercising during the holidays is a great way to relieve stress and offset those extra holiday treats.