The holidays are just around the corner, and with them comes the temptation to overeat (and overdrink). Instead of throwing all of your hard work out the door, NOW is the time to make your resolution to take care of your body; ending the year strong instead of making guilt-laden promises to do better in the New Year.

Food is the centerpiece of the holidays. It’s the time when everyone throws healthy eating to the wind, filling up on carbs, butter and sugar-filled treats. There will be a LOT of temptation ahead of you. Face it head-on and you will conquer. This is not a time to starve yourself, however. Starvation diets are a recipe for failure and a good way to alienate yourself from well-meaning, but nosy relatives.

This is a time for an action plan.

Below you’ll find 8 tips for keeping your healthy goals through the holidays. Use them well and wisely and we will all make it through to the end of the year stronger and on track for an even better 2016!

Preparation leads to success

Going into the holiday season without a clear plan will lead to failure. This is a time for mental and physical prep! Think about how you feel when you overeat and overdrink.  Do you feel bloated? Disappointed with yourself? Frustrated? Do you hate when your clothes are too tight? Visualize yourself succeeding in your fitness goals through the year. Are you proud? Strong? Accomplished? If this is what you want for yourself, make it happen!

[highlight]A goal properly set is halfway reached.[/highlight]

~Zig Ziglar

Don’t Diet

Forbidding yourself from eating or trying the delicious food in front of you is not living life to the fullest. No. Instead, use moderation. Don’t be a “diet” victim and lament that you can’t eat this or that. You are setting yourself up for failure. A taste or a bite here and there is not the end of the world. Calorie counting when you should be enjoying yourself and getting to know your in-laws a little better is just bad manners.

Use a small plate if possible, take a BITE of that pumpkin pie Aunt Martha made just for you instead of the whole piece, and for goodness sake, make sure you aren’t hungry. This is a good time for drinking lots of Shakeology and even sharing some. Have a taste test with your relatives and make them one of the many holiday Shakeology recipes we put together just for moments like this.

Do your homework

There’s always a few favorite, but hugely unhealthy dishes that get passed around the table this time of year. It’s easy to turn a blind eye and just stuff your face…it’s only once a year, right? If you look up a few of those recipes beforehand for fat, calories and nutritional value, they may just lose their appeal.

Ask yourself: Am I eating crap? Is it a whole food or processed? Would I feed this to my child? Is it organic? Homemade or from a box? How will I feel after I eat it?

My weakness is stuffing doused in gravy. A typical stuffing recipe is 43% fat and 50% carbs—even more fat if cooked inside a bird and covered with gravy. Add in grandma’s cheesecake and you’ve eaten a week’s worth of fat in one meal. Now I know we aren’t calorie-counting, but this is the time for moderation. One perfect bite of something you LOVE should do the trick. Fill up that plate with healthier options instead.

Pump it up

If you know you are going to indulge a bit, prepare yourself ahead of time and make a plan for after your holiday feasting. Pump up your exercise routine during the last half of the year. Cut down on eating by watching your portion size, plan a holiday cleanse to start the New Year off right. This is a great time for making healthy goals to up your fitness and eating game WHILE feeling good about indulging a little. Gift YOURSELF something that will make it fun like the new Hammer and Chisel workout.

Take control

If you tend to go out to restaurants this time of year, or even at home, you may be presented with a huge portion of food. What to do now? If you are low on will power, this is a good time to split an entrée with your partner instead of ordering a whole one. Another great trick is to cut the meal in half right when it arrives and ask the waiter to box up the rest. Order healthy options, drink lots of water and don’t overindulge on alcoholic drinks.

If you are at home and mom makes a plate for you it can be a little trickier. Get ahead of the game and start making plates so you can make your own, volunteer to cut the pie, get involved in the kitchen!

Be aware

Party snacks, buffets and hors d’oeurves can be your downfall. All of those mindless nibbles add up, especially while you are engrossed in conversation after a few glasses of wine (more on that later).

Step away from the bowl of nuts, pretzels or chips and grab a plate of veggies and hummus instead.  Again, limit yourself to tasting just a bite or too of the bad stuff and eat the good stuff instead.

Drinks count too

The best thing you can do for yourself during holiday meals is stay hydrated with lots of water. You should already be staying away from soda and sugary juices, so let’s assume that’s a given! Personally, I don’t drink at all, having just celebrated 7 years of being sober. If you do pick up a cocktail, this is also a time for moderation. Limit yourself to one of two and make sure you eat beforehand. If you really need an eggnog, try one of the Shakeology recipes!

Be grateful

Holiday gatherings can be stressful, and filled with people and memories you don’t face in your everyday life. Holiday stress is a real thing and family gatherings are notorious for breakdowns. Instead of engaging, step away and center yourself.

Be grateful for your messed up relatives, ruined apple pie or that horrible thing your mother-in-law said.  Yes. Be grateful. This is your life and your family and you should be grateful to be the strong, loving, generous person you are, no matter the challenge. In the big scheme of things, “making in through” the holidays isn’t really such a bad challenge to have, is it?