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12 Days of Holiday FitnessTips

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Many of us stress out about gaining weight during the holidays. It's seems like we're constantly tempted by rich, delicious meals with all of the trimmings at family gatherings and office parties. 

To help you navigate the holiday season, we put together some fitness tips that you can follow over the coming weeks. Who knows? You may even improve your fitness level before it's time to ring in the New Year. 

On the first day, set fitness goals: We recommend that you set a few fitness goalsand stick to a plan to reach those goals. Without goals -- and a plan to reach those goals -- it's easy to miss workouts and blow your diet. 

Day 2. Use moderation if you cheat on your diet: Allow yourself to indulge, but limit your portions. You don't need to throw out your self control and dive right in because it's the holidays. Instead, have a small taste of what you want -- and avoid the rest. Cookies, cakes and pies are around every day of the year, so don't use the holidays as a reason to ruin your hard-earned results.

Day 3. Do something active every day: It might not be your typical workout, but try to exercise for at least 30 minutes. Even if you're traveling and away from i.d. gym, you can still at least go outside for a brisk walk.

Day 4. When short on time, emphasize weight training: Muscles help burn fat, so some extra weight training will help you fight off the extras that you normally don't eat. If you are going to cut the workout short here and there, hit the weights first, even at the expense of cardio, since you can use supersets to make your weight training workouts more aerobic.

Day 5. Eat balanced meals: Don't eliminate food groups from your meals, since this may make you even hungrier and lead you to eat foods that your body doesn't really need. If you are hungry, fill up on protein and veggies, since protein increases your metabolism and veggies take more calories to digest than what they contain.

Day 6. Limit alcohol: This is a tough one, especially at holiday parties. You are actually better off eating an extra cookie than consuming multiple cocktails. Excess booze simply contributes to fat gain. On the other hand...

Day 7. Drink lots of water: We often overeat because we are dehydrated, so make sure that you get enough water throughout the day. Besides, water gives you a sense of fullness so you may eat less.

Day 8. Eat regularly scheduled meals: If you skip meals before family gatherings and holiday parties, you are setting yourself up for a big mistake. Make sure that you eat your meals as usual, even if you have a party in the evening. When you go to a party with a full tummy, you're less likely to binge at the buffet table.

Day 9. Don't keep dangerous foods around: We all have certain foods that trigger binging episodes, so don't keep these food around. If mom's chocolate chip cookies are your weakness, don't take home a plate of these treats when you're visiting the old homestead.

Day 10. Brush your teeth after a meal: This may seem silly, but you're less likely to eat and drink once you have fresh, minty breath.

Day 11. Limit downtime: Rather than sitting in front of the TV set when you have free time, spend that time doing activities with your special someone. You won't be tempted by the yummy foods often advertised during your favorite shows, and you will more likely to be productive while enjoying time with your loved ones.

And on the 12th Day, plan to wear one of your favorite outfits: Nothing is more motivating than a plan to wear your favorite cocktail dress or a new, snug shirt. Once you have a plan to wear your "hot" outfit, you'll be less likely to stuff your face and more likely to find time for the gym.

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