Motivational Monday: 7 tips to beat holiday weight gain

Ashley Sornsin, The Valley Today's Health & Fitness Coach

FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) It can be hard to avoid the holiday treats and sweets this time of the year, but that doesn't mean you have to give up on your diet!

The Valley Today's Health and Fitness expert says you need to plan and prepare and you will stay right on track.

Ashley Sornsin says if you have been exercising and eating balanced and healthy year round, there is no reason why you can’t partake in the holidays without guilt!

Ashley Sornsin shares these 7 tips that she says will help keep you on track with your fitness efforts while enjoying the holidays, guilt free!

1. Keep your goals in mind. Strive for progress, not perfection. Remind yourself of your goals, keeping them front and center. Pick and choose wisely, asking yourself if what you want right now is worth it, how will it make you feel tomorrow, or if resisting these temptations will get you closer to your goals. Eating healthy foods will give you energy, keep you feeling great and help keep you healthy at the same time.

2. Plan ahead. Eat before you go to an event so you aren’t starving when you arrive and overeat. You do not want to go to an event on an empty stomach, so eat a light healthy snack to prevent eating too much, too fast. It may sound odd to eat before you go, but as you're waiting for others to arrive, you'll be tempted to graze more and overeat.

3. Fuel the furnace. You want to keep your metabolism going, so make sure you start your day with breakfast and then eat every two to three hours, keeping that metabolism burning like a furnace. If you wait to eat until an event or gathering, you will be starving and end up eating much more than if you were to have been eating on your regular schedule. Your metabolism will slow down from not eating throughout the day, and your body will not burn those calories the same as a fired up metabolism, so it's important to eat small, regular meals before your event or gathering.

4. Drink to hydrate. If you think you're hungry, try drinking a glass of water first. Oftentimes, you're dehydrated, not hungry! Many holiday drinks have a lot of 'empty' calories, so again choose wisely. Go for clear options with no-calorie mixers, or a glass of wine and limit or stay away from the creamy drinks with a lot of hidden calories. Afterall, most of us would rather eat our calories than drink them. Save calories, choose water or other clear/calorie-free liquids and stay hydrated.

5. Alternatives and substitutes. Hosting is a big job, but makes it easier to control a meal for you to use healthier alternatives in your cooking. This isn’t always the case but if you are hosting the holidays, this is a great way to show people how delicious healthy cooking can be. If you are cooking, be sure to make choices that can easily substitute: such as mashed cauliflower in place of mashed potatoes. If you're attending, bring a healthy dish that you can eat, then you know this one dish (or maybe a vegetable platter) you can go-to for a healthy option.

6. Keep moving. Get your workout in early in the day or before your event. The holidays bring about quite a bit of uncertainty to your schedule, so it’s best to get it done early. Also, making exercise a priority early means you’ll be less likely to put it off and you will feel better about having a couple bites of your favorite holiday foods. In addition, you'll make better and healthier choices after your workout because when we work out, we feel good and accomplished and don't want to undo all of the hard work. After your holiday meal, get out and get moving. Going for a nice walk will burn a few extra calories and more than anything, make you feel better to get out and move.

7. Balance. Everything in moderation with portion control, not an all or nothing mentality. There will be many events, gatherings, and holiday meals over this holiday season, but because these are special events and not an every day occurrence, you can enjoy a small portion of a 'treat' without feeling guilty. It's one meal, one treat, not a whole day turning into a whole month of bad choices. If you had these treats daily, it would quickly add up and the holiday weight gain would easily creep on. Find balance, don't deprive yourself, as a bite or two won't kill you. Just make wise choices -- have that homemade pie from Grandma and get right back on track with your healthy lifestyle at the next meal and put in a workout tomorrow morning.