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I have so much to do this holiday season that I have no idea how I can keep up my workouts! Any suggestions? I don't want to put on weight like I did last year.

Between office parties, festive get-togethers with friends and, of course, all the visits with relatives - not to mention holiday shopping for everyone - it's no wonder that often our fitness focus flies out the window. While it's true you may not be able to stick to your program as religiously as you would like, you don't have to forget about it completely. You can even keep your indulgences down to a reasonable level, if you plan ahead of time. Here's a list of dos and don'ts for the hectic holiday season:

(Article continued below.)

DO stick to your workout schedule as much as possible.
Even though you have additional obligations right now, keep your workouts fairly high up in the priority scale, even if they must drop down a notch or two. Sure, you'll miss workouts here and there, but try to reschedule when you can instead of forgetting about them completely. How late is your gym open - can you shop for a couple of hours in the evening and hit the gym afterwards? Work out during your lunch hour if you don't normally. Be spontaneous - if you find yourself with an unexpected half hour of free time, go for a walk or a run.

DO use your favorite activities to visit with friends and relatives.
C'mon, you must know some people who share your passion for fitness - or at least you may find a friend or relative who is curious about your exercise program. Encourage your aunt or cousin to accompany you to Yoga or Pilates class. Even if you don't have any relatives who enjoy running, you can at least get a couple of them to go for a walk with you. Taking a 20-minute walk after dinner is a nice way to catch up on what's been going on. Or try someone else's favorite activities - for example, ask your nephew to teach you how to snowboard, if he's willing. Go outside and play with some of the younger family members - it'll keep them occupied and you'll have quality time with them.

DO fit pockets of activity into your busy days.
Got ten minutes? Do a few squats, some Yoga stretches, or grab one of those Quick Fix videos or DVDs. Greet the day with some Sun Salutations. Take the stairs, not the elevator or escalator. Instead of driving around in circles looking for the closest parking spot at the mall, take a space at the far end of the lot and walk. When you are walking, pick up the pace - a brisk walk burns more calories than a stroll. Improve your balance by subtly balancing on one leg while you're in line at the store. Pace while you're on the phone. Stretch before going to bed. If you have the choice between sitting and standing, stand. Go ahead and fidget all through the day - even that burns calories.

DO sneak healthy alternatives into the holiday meals you cook.
If you're making the meal, you have control over what goes into it. Use low-fat options when making the dips, and offer loads of raw veggies. Instead of making the mashed potatoes with whole milk and hunks of butter, try using low-fat or fat-free sour cream instead. Sauté the green beans in a little chicken broth. Salmon makes a festive holiday dish, and it's very good for you. There are many ways to lighten up holiday meals, or add extra nutritional value, while still keeping in the holiday spirit. Try some of them out.

DO take time to calm your mind.
Take a few minutes before you go to sleep to unwind after a full day. Do a few stretches, then sit quietly in a chair and breathe calmly and quietly. Detach from your thoughts - let them flow without getting involved in them. Relax any parts of your body that are tense. If you follow a certain religious or spiritual path, this is an especially good time for prayer or chanting. When you roll into bed, you will sleep much better, and when you wake up, you'll feel fresh and energized.

Next page >> Holiday Don'ts >> Page 1, 2

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