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If jogging in the cold doesn't appeal, a brisk walk can help keep off the pounds over the holiday season.
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updated 12/9/2005 3:41:18 PM ET 2005-12-09T20:41:18

During the holidays there is one jolly fat person none of us wants to see — our reflection in the mirror carrying all those extra pounds we packed on between Thanksgiving and New Year's.

Though, on average, we only gain about 1 to 2 pounds during the holidays, it sure can feel like a lot more. All of the festivities, the family gatherings, and the drinks and sweets can really add up, and by the end of the holidays, it's hard not to feel as if Santa might have a smaller waistline than you. It's the reason why so many of us make getting into shape a goal for the new year. The International Health, Racquetball and Sportsclub Association in Boston predicts that more than 1 million Americans will join a gym in January alone.

But why make it a New Year's resolution when the postholiday bulge can be controlled throughout the season?

"Two key areas that people struggle with especially during the holidays are motivation and time," says Dave Ruff, national fitness director of the Fitness Company in Washington, D.C. "When times are hectic, redefine your workout. It doesn't need to be 45 to 60 minutes. Do a quick total body workout in 15 minutes, don't waste time and move quickly through each exercise, doing one set for each major muscle group."

Time can seem short when celebrating the season, but while it's necessary to see family and friends, it's equally important to get away and exercise. That's why it can help to schedule workouts just like appointments. "Because of the amounts of get-togethers and days that the gym may be closed, it is best if you decide a week ahead which days you will be attending the gym. In this manner, your chances of missing a workout due to parties is eliminated," says Hugo Rivera, fitness author and president of HR Fitness in Brandon, Fla.

Luckily, during the holidays many gyms offer as gifts starter packages that include membership and personal training. Having someone to guide you through workouts will make them more efficient and builds motivation.

"I use the ProgioXM Player to offer my clients interactive workouts anytime, anywhere, so they don't have any excuses, even during the holiday season," says Lisa Engles, a personal trainer in Los Gatos, Calif. Progio and other products like Sony PlayStation's Eyetoy Kinetic deliver workout routines with interactive personal training that gives users guidance no matter where they are.

One very simple rule of thumb to combat overeating at a party: Don't arrive at any celebration on an empty stomach. "Have a small meal or snack beforehand that includes low-fat protein," says Dr. Arthur Agatston, author of The South Beach Diet.

There are many other ways to avoid holiday weight gain. That's why Forbes.com asked some of the top personal trainers and nutritionists in the industry to give us their best tips. Staying fit during the season will help you look and feel good for that New Year's Eve party, instead of watching the ball drop at midnight wishing you did.

© 2012 Forbes.com

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