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How to pack in holiday fun without packing on pounds

After 10 years in the TV biz and 8 years as a competitive boxer, all my passions collide to bring a fresh, fun and often sassy perspective on all things fitness and lifestyle.

It's December, dudes! That means the holiday party season is upon us! Before you say buh-bye to your healthy lifestyle and hello to overindulgence, follow these easy tips to survive the season without gaining pounds and losing sanity!

The countdown to the holidays is on! Yes, the time has come to take the tree out of the box (#condoproblems), stock up on those delicious clementines, finish up (or in my case, begin) gift shopping and, of course, dust off Christina Aguilera's Christmas album. This is also the time of year when our calendars start to fill up with countless holiday parties.

'Tis the season to eat, drink, be merry and also be a little lenient when it comes to health and fitness. Listen, I'm never one to rag on a good festive function. I'm there with silver bells on. But I realize that part of hitting the party circuit means not hitting the gym as much, and probably indulging in a few extra bonbons and bevys than usual. Before you give up, buy a few extra pairs of party-appropriate stretchy pants, double-fist shortbread cookies and chase them down with some eggnog, there is a way to still enjoy the season without completely losing momentum! Here are some helpful tips on how to survive the holidays without sacrificing your waistline.

Pre-game, sorta

Have you ever gone grocery shopping when you're hungry? It can quickly go from going out for milk and eggs to coming home with six bags of unneeded, unnecessary and likely unhealthy groceries. The same phenomenon occurs at parties. If you show up famished, your diet is, well, finished. You'll end up being the one hanging out by the door where the hors d'oeuvres come from, making sure you don't miss any of those tasty trays. Don't tell me you haven't been that girl! We all have. The only way to avoid this typical trap is to pre-eat. I'm not saying have a four-course meal before the festivities, but even a handful of nuts, carrots and hummus or a piece of toast with almond butter will curb your hunger enough that you can make mindful choices once you get to the party.

Pick your poison

Along with picking an outfit and mapping out your mingle strategy, it's also important to have a plan of action when it comes to food and drink. From high-calorie cocktails to decadent desserts and all you can eat appetizer platters, it's easy to overindulge. I'm not saying we shouldn't allow ourselves any sweet treats, but sometimes it's easier to manage temptations when we choose ahead of time what we're going to permit and what we're going to pass on. For example, I'm more of a savory person myself, so I'll often choose in advance to skip dessert and just focus on the salty spoils. (Hello, cheese platter!) I also will often decide what kind of beverage I'm having before I get there. That way, even if they're featuring one of those Kahlua, Baileys and creme de whatever drinks, I already have my mind set on vodka and soda or a glass of red wine.

Adjust sweat session expectations

You might be a super-dedicated and diligent exerciser in real life, but this isn't real life. This is the holiday season and that likely means giving up a lot of your routine hour-long gym sessions. For those of us who've ever taken a week or two off of our rigorous regimens, we know how hard it can be to get back into it after a hiatus... a Christmas break turns into a New Year's break which turns into a half-year break, in a hurry! To avoid the complete progress pause, keep your body moving, at least a little. Fitting in even a few minutes of exercise whenever possible, will help to keep the momentum going. Clock 15-20 minutes of work first thing in the morning, before you hit the shower. Try doing three sets of 20 squats, 20 lunges, 20 sit-ups, a 20 second plank and 10 push-ups. It may not be your usual "spin class style" sweat, but it will do the trick. Remember, it's as much about keeping your head in the game as your body.

Forgive and forget

Even after reading all this great advice and making a declaration to have a moderate mentality during party season, the truth is we're all going to have nights where we just say "F-it!" Maybe a conversation with a cute guy leads to a few too many cocktails, which leads to the dessert table. Or, maybe you were destined to eat that entire tray of deviled eggs. Whatever the reason, if you find yourself in an over-indulgence situation, my advice to you is: Don't beat yourself up over it! We're human, and besides, it's the most wonderful time of the year. Harboring a grudge against yourself is only going to make matters worse. On one hand, it could cause you to have the "damage is done" mentality, leading to many more nights of binge eating. Additionally, it will also cause extra stress during an already difficult month. As you've probably heard before, stress can wreak havoc on our metabolism... causing us to gain more and lose it slower! So, acknowledge the seasonal slip, forgive yourself and move on, damn it!

Here's to a happy and healthy Festivus, everyone!!

Photo credit: Michael Hall/Flickr
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