SOUND MIND, SOUND BODY: Make a plan to keep holidays in hand

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With the holiday season fast approaching, it is the time of year for celebration and abundance.

December seems to be a time of never-ending parties; between work, family and friends you can probably fill up every weekend with a party. With the holiday season comes the time of temptation, in the form of delicious food and drink.

This can present a problem for people who are trying to maintain their healthy habits. While research indicates that people gain only one to two pounds during the holidays, it is also noted that this weight tends to stick around year after year.

Even with this overabundance of food you can maintain your healthy living habits with a little preparation. Here are five quick and easy tips to maintain your healthy habits throughout the holiday season.

Make a holiday plan

Assess areas that may be a challenge for you and figure out a game plan for how to handle them. During the holidays don't aim for perfection, allow a little wiggle room.

Set a schedule and keep it

Maintain your regular mealtimes. Don't skimp on or skip your regular meals to make up for poor eating during the day. This will most likely just set you up to eat even more.

Going to a party hungry has the same effect.

Try to at least have a snack before the party -- something that contains fiber and protein, to help you feel full.

Be selective and practice portion control

Before loading everything on the buffet onto your plate, walk through the buffet to see everything that is being offered so you can make good choices about what you really want.

Also, instead of using a large dinner plate try using a salad plate; this can help with limiting the amount of food you select. When you finish your plate, wait at least 10 minutes before going back for a second trip to help you determine if you are really still hungry.

Be a social butterfly

When you go to a party think of it as a time to socialize with friends and/or family. If you focus on the social aspect of parties instead of the food it will give you something to think about other than all the tempting treats that are around.

Don't diet

The holidays are a time to try and maintain your weight and healthy habits. If you start a diet during the holiday season, it sets you up for a binge on high calorie tempting treats.

During the holiday season don't forget to plan time for exercise. Exercise, along with maintaining a healthy eating pattern will help prevent the holiday weight gain. With Thanksgiving just a week away, start making your healthy holiday plans.

If you are looking for a great way to burn some extra calories on Thanksgiving Day come check out the YMCA on Thanksgiving morning from 8-11 a.m., for our second annual "Burn the Bird." The weight room will be open and there will be seven 30-minute fitness classes starting at 8:10 am. The pool will be open for lap swim from 8-9:30 am and family swim from 9:30-10 am.

Free babysitting and organized programs for kids will also be offered. Bring the whole family for a great pre-Thanksgiving dinner workout.

Valerie Rankin has been working in the fitness industry since 1998. She has a bachelor's degree in health education and fitness promotion and is the group exercise director at the YMCA, where she manages and instructs fitness classes.

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