The radio's playing wall-to-wall Christmas carols, the lights are going up in the neighborhood, and the holiday party invitations are in the mail. Maybe you've been working hard to lose weight—or maybe you just want to avoid packing on an extra 10-15 pounds between now and New Year's Eve. Have no fear: With the right frame of mind, you won't have to avoid the fun to avoid the fat!

To help you achieve this lofty goal, I've created a Holiday Party Survival Guide for you! These seven tips are my gift to you to help you mingle with your friends and family without having to purchase a new wardrobe.

1. Drink Up and Be Merry!

That's right, get ready to do some drinking, because if you want to keep yourself from gaining weight this holiday season, you're going to drink…about a gallon of water every day. Not the kind of drinking you had in mind? Trust me, with all the stress and junk foods coming your way, holiday hydration is key.

drink and be merry

Water is vital to all your bodily functions. It also keeps you feeling full. As a rule, most people don't tend to drink enough water, so when they get the urge to snack, chances are they're actually thirsty, not hungry. And since your body doesn't retain water like it does Christmas cookies, pies, egg nog, and everything else you'll soon be tempted by, staying hydrated over the holidays may even help you lose weight. How cool would that be?

2. Get on the Right Side of the Scale

How do you expect to prevent getting fat if you don't know what you weigh? When you're entering into the season of overindulgence, your scale can be your first line of defense against weight gain.

Start weighing yourself every morning after you use the bathroom. That way, you can begin each day, enter every sweater party, and attend every cookie-tasting party knowing exactly where you stand. With a good scale on your side, you can know at the first pound instead of the tenth that you're going overboard.

3. Eat Well Before and Avoid the Snack

You know how they say you should never go food shopping when you're hungry, because you'll buy all kinds of crap? The same is true with going to holiday parties. If you know you're going to be entering the Valley of Junk Food, then cut those empty calories off at the pass and eat before you go.

Soups

Whether it's a hearty lunch earlier in the day or a quick dinner after work, don't go to these events with an empty stomach. Otherwise, if the liquor doesn't get you, the food will. It's much easier to say no to cookies, pies, and pastries when you're full of wholesome food and, of course, lots of water.

4. Dress to Kill…Your Appetite

You've been sticking to your workout program. You're looking better than you have in years. So, show it off! Choose some new party clothes that make you feel sexy. Maybe even splurge on a new outfit that bolsters your newfound confidence even further.

If your clothes fit and you like what you see in the mirror, you're less likely to gorge yourself and ruin the look. Show up fabulous, stay fabulous, and enjoy the party!

5. Remember: BYOWF!

If the party you're attending is a potluck, Bring Your Own Wholesome Food. Skip the Jello molds and bring something that's good and good for you. Here are a few suggestions for healthy, easy-to-make party food:

  • Meatballs: It doesn't get much easier than these, guys. Pre-cook in the oven, spice them however you like, and avoid sugary sauces. Finger foods shouldn't be messy anyway.
  • Chicken wings: Either grilled or baked, chicken wings are a great source of fat and protein, and you'll look like a boss bringing your own from home.
  • Lettuce sliders: Think squashed meatballs wrapped in lettuce. They take a little more work, but sliders are trendy—and making them out of lettuce will put you in the vanguard of good eating.
  • Mixed nuts: Bring them in-shell and have a whole cracking station, or roast your own in spices and bring them warm. There are plenty of options, and they're all healthy choices. Just don't sugarcoat them.
  • Sliced veggies and dip: There's no bad dipping vegetables, so bring whatever you like. You can make your own dips, with sour cream and spices, or buy them premade. Just check the labels to avoid added sugar. When in doubt, salsa, hummus, and guacamole make tasty dips for veggies, too.
mixed nuts

6. Moderation in All Things (Including Moderation)

So, at this point you're thinking, "Cristy. It's a party, not a fitness class! What if I want a cocktail or a piece of cake?" Hey, you can have whatever you want. I won't be there to stop you.

However, I will say that you need to know what you really want before you step into your next holiday fete.

Do you want to keep the weight off? If so, skip the cake. If you've just got to have the cake, then have it, and eat it, too. But stop at one piece and avoid the other junk food. If you're weighing yourself regularly and drinking a gallon of water every day, one piece of cake, no matter how delicious, isn't going to cancel out a whole month of clean foods and water consumption.

7. Give Your Body the Best Gift of All!

After the last holiday sweater is judged, be sure you get a good night's sleep. Make time for yourself this season to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night—no matter what else is going on.

You've worked hard to get where you are and to look as good as you do. Don't ruin all that by retaining more weight because you're starving your body of sleep. Treat your body well and you'll begin the New Year looking and feeling your best.

About the Author

Cristy ''Code Red'' Nickel

Cristy ''Code Red'' Nickel

Cristy "Code Red" Nickel has been in the health and fitness industry since 1994. While studying Exercise Science at the University of Memphis, Cristy competed in three NPC Figure competitions...

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