Everyone knows the drill over the holidays: eat, drink, be merry, repeat. Then, come January 1st, go on a crazy strict diet and start working out like mad to lose the 10 pounds you gained in December.

While this is the accepted pattern of behavior, it isn’t really the best way of going about things. Just because this is what you have always done, it doesn’t mean this is what you should always do! It is difficult to start the new year fighting an uphill battle. We know you want to live a healthy lifestyle in 2017, but why wait until then to start?

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There are a few things you can do right now, in the lead up to Christmas, that will help you avoid the motivation-sucking weight gain that seems to accompany this time of year! And believe it or not, these tiny tweaks are easier than you think!

Are you ready to buck the trend and start 2017 on a high note?

1. Take a night off

The holiday season means parties and dinners nearly every night of the week which can lead to exhaustion! Don’t let yourself get run down and take ¬†one or two nights off a week to get some much needed sleep. If you are out drinking every night, and eating rich sugary foods, you likely aren’t getting as much rest as you think when your head hits the pillow! When you don’t get enough sleep, your body gets thrown all out of whack! Your hunger and satiety hormones are tipped out of balance which means you’ll feel hungry (especially for sweet or salty foods) and rarely feel satisfied. To make matters worse, your tired body produces more of the stress hormone cortisol which leads to extra weight being carried around your middle!

2. Drink more water

Make sure you keep your water intake high. Aim to drink, at least a liter and a half of water per day. This will keep your hydration levels high and help your body in its natural detoxification process. It can also help you avoid some of the less than pleasant side effects of a night on the town. If you have a glass of water in between all of your alcoholic beverages, it will slow down your drinking (and eating!) so that even if you do over do it, you’ll be less likely to suffer the headache the next morning!

3. Give your organs a break

When you aren’t loading up on big holiday meals, prepare some lighter fare. Think salads and vegetable-based soups. It’s best to avoid alcohol on these days as well. Keeping it clean will give your liver and kidneys a break and allow your system a chance to flush the toxins from your body.

4. Exercise!

No matter how busy you are, it’s important that you try to fit in a workout. It doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out affair. 12 minutes is all you need to keep your metabolism revving, your energy levels high, and your weight in check! We understand how difficult it can be and that’s why we’ve created the 12 Days of Christmas Challenge! Each day we are offering you a brand new, real time, workout that you can do any where you are! Short, but effective, these workouts will get your heart rate up while helping you stay focused and burning fat right through to the new year! It isn’t too late to get started, we’ve got you covered until New Years Eve! The 12 Days of Christmas Challenge is available on SweatFlix! Try it free for 30 days! Sign up here!

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5. Eat vegetables

Instead of filling your plate with dark meat, dressing, dinner rolls and buttery mashed potatoes, load up veggies! Brussels sprouts and green beans are always a great option (as long as they aren’t drowning in butter!). If you are prepping the meal, whip up a few easy, green vegetable based side dishes. A nice kale salad with some dried cranberries and a light citrus vinaigrette is perfect this time of year! The best way to avoid overeating is to put the vegetables on the plate FIRST, then add the less than healthy parts in the remaining space! It is also helpful to use a smaller plate. A smaller plate means smaller, more appropriate portions, which can prevent you from having that terrible bloated, stuffed feeling!

6. Never arrive hungry

When it comes to your big feast, you may think that skipping meals earlier in the day can help you balance out the anticipated calorie intake but, unfortunately, that is not the case. Arriving with nothing in your stomach means you are more likely to overeat at mealtime. Before you head out the door (or before your company arrives), eat something small and healthy like an apple with a bit of peanut butter, a handful of nuts, or a few slices of cheese. These snacks will help you feel satisfied, preventing that ravenous hunger that may cause you to eat too much when seated at the table.

7. Everything in moderation

Keeping the weight off at Christmas doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to have fun, it just means you need to keep things under control. Don’t deprive yourself of something you really want. If you’ve had a big meal and you still want dessert, have it. Just have a small dessert. If you want to have a drink with dinner, do it, just choose wisely. Drink wine or clear alcohol like gin or vodka and limit your mix to water or tonic. Have those mashed potatoes — just don’t have ALL the mashed potatoes! Like we said earlier, fill your plate with veggies first and go from there!

Remember, you’re worth the effort it takes to stay healthy. It isn’t hard, you can do it!

How do you survive the holidays? Share your tips with us!

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