Whether you’ve just started working out at a health club or the weight room is the place where everybody knows your name, the holidays can derail your fitness plans.

Parties, travel, changes to your work routine as well as ever-present holiday cookies can sabotage the most dedicated among us. According to The New England Journal of Medicine, most people don’t ever lose the pound of weight they put on during the holidays. This one to two pounds a year, makes holiday eating the likely cause of most midlife weight gain.

Fortunately, with a bit of planning you should be able to greet the New Year guilt-free and looking great.

 Start by giving yourself a fitness gift. If you’ve yet to make a commitment, join a gym or fitness center now.  The cheapest gym is the one that you will use the most frequently.  Think location, location, location. Choose a health & fitness club with that’s near your home or work and offers a variety of equipment and classes such as Pilates for Beginners, Water Aerobics and Cardio Spinning.

If you already belong to a gym, get with a personal trainer to evaluate your program.  Try a new class or a new instructor for your favorite workout.  Treat yourself (or ask Santa) to bring you some new gym supplies such as a cushiony yoga mat, a brightly colored Zumba outfit, or a new gym bag.

Make a holiday workout plan. Meet with your Future Fitness personal trainer and go over your plans for the holidays.  Discuss any travel plans, changes to your schedule, and potential landmines such as Aunt Harriet’s delectable pecan pie.  If you’re going to be traveling and cannot get to the gym, learn exercises that you can do away from home.

  • Get creative. Away from home and don’t have your hand weights?  Head to the pantry and grab a couple of cans. 
  • Don’t make excuses.  If you can’t get to your health club or exercise classes, don’t give up.  Take a walk. Go sightseeing. Head to the mall and start walking.
  • Cut yourself some slack. If you miss a workout, don’t beat yourself up.  Just get up and get back on track.

Have a holiday party plan. When the invitations arrive, make sure you’re not stuck starving with only potato chips, seven-layer dip and a plate of buffalo chicken wings for dinner.

  • Eat first. Don’t go to a party hungry. Have a small snack such as half a sandwich or yogurt before you arrive. 
  • Easy on the alcohol. Beer is around 150 calories and just four ounces of wine is 75 calories.  Have one drink, and then reach for the sparkling water or mulled cider.
  • Overindulge on the good stuff.  Enjoy virtually unlimited raw veggies with a dollop of hummus, salsa or guacamole. 
  • Bring a dish.  Help the host and your body with a plate of festive crudities, grilled chicken on skewers or fresh fruit kabobs.
  • Keep a glass in your hand.  A club soda with a lime wedge not only gives you something to do with your hands, it keeps your host from handing you the bowl of mixed nuts.