The holiday season may be the most wonderful time of the year but it is also the time that most complain about packing on the pounds – and with good reason.  A season dedicated to parties, piles of food, and bottomless booze is sure to cause some distractions when it comes to your health.

I’m super excited to be co-posting this blog with my friend and nutritionist, Renee Rogers.  This week, we’re sharing a two-prong approach of fitness and nutritional tips to help you enjoy a guilt free holiday.

The holiday week is different, so try something different – you might choose an outdoor activity – for example: not that I understand the game, but I know some families like to play tag football before dinner– in honor of all the sporting events this weekend. Alternatively, if you are going to be downtown, you might enjoy the Chicago Turkey Trot.

Go for a brisk walk before and/or after dinner. Invite all your nieces and nephews for a walk around down the street. You’ll get to spend some quality time talking and walking, not just perched in front of the TV – eating leftovers.

Join me on You Tube for a free workout – Total Belly Meltdown Part 2 There is plenty of extra time so squeeze in an extra workout or two – and You Tube is accessible just about anywhere!

Don’t Skip Meals –If you think by skipping meals you are saving calories, think again. Hunger and overeating go hand in hand. Consume your regular nutritious meals prior to the big feast to keep your energy up and temptations at bay.

Slow Down – Eating too fast often leads to overeating. It takes roughly 20 minutes for our stomach to tell our brains we are full. The faster we eat the more likely we are to miss this crucial signal and consume too many calories. Try pausing after each bite and engaging in the conversation around you.

Bulk up your Meal with Veggies – Eating big portions of food doesn’t have to lead to weight gain. Vegetable side dishes such as sweet potatoes, salads, plain green beans, and Brussels sprouts offer plenty of bulk with very little calories. Aim to make at least 1/2 your Thanksgiving plate veggies.

BYOS (Bring Your Own Sides) – Thanksgiving meal is all about the side dishes. If you know that Aunt Sue only makes broccoli covered in velvety, processed cheese or that your mom’s casseroles are a far cry from low-calorie, then be prepared and bring your own sides. Here are a few delicious Thanksgiving sides for a guilt-free dinner:

Apple, Walnut, and Craisin Salad 

Oven-Roasted Chili & Garlic Broccoli 

Roasted Sweet Potato & Corn Salad 

Remember that we always have a choice.  A healthier holiday season is a choice you can make – and celebrate!