The holidays don’t have to derail your healthy lifestyle: if you commit to smart food choices and exercise, you can avoid weight gain and loss of fitness.

Certified Personal Trainer Kenneth Robinson helps patients at Regional One Health meet fitness goals safely through a unique Post-Rehab Wellness Program. His advice? “Enjoy the holiday season, just don’t overdo it and lose self-control. Remember the goals you’ve set. You can stay on mission and still enjoy yourself.”

Start by maintaining a balanced diet including vegetables, lean meat, and whole grains, and drink plenty of water to ward off hunger and promote digestion.

Kenneth said for most people, the biggest temptation around the holidays is sweets and foods with a lot of simple carbs and sugars, so do some advance planning. Look for recipes with healthier sweeteners like honey, peanut butter, or bananas, mixed berries, or other fruits. Using these ingredients can reduce or eliminate added sugar.

You don’t have to sacrifice your favorites, he stressed. If you love chocolate, sprinkle small pieces in with raisins or nuts. You can also commit to a workout to compensate for indulging.

Exercise is one of Kenneth’s top suggestions for avoiding holiday weight gain. “After a meal, grab a family member or friend and go for a brisk walk, even if it’s just 15 or 20 minutes. If you consumed sweets, it helps bring your blood sugar down. It also helps with digestion, burns calories, and gets your metabolism going.”

Again, planning ahead is key to sticking to a healthy plan. Cold weather, busy schedules, and holiday gym closures can make it hard to exercise, but it’s not impossible.

Kenneth suggests exercising in the morning to avoid getting sidetracked and to boost your metabolism for the entire day.

When the weather allows, walking is one of the easiest ways to burn calories: “You may have to put your sweats and jacket on, but you can still get busy and get moving,” Kenneth said.

If it’s too cold to get out and the gym is closed, turn your home into a workout facility.

For cardio, climb the stairs, do step-ups on a single stair, do jumping jacks or burpees, or walk laps around the house. For strength training, pushups, sit-ups, squats, planks, and other classics are easy to do anywhere. Kenneth suggested making it a circuit – do five minutes of cardio then five minutes of strength training and switch back and forth for as long as you can.

While it is possible to stay healthy and fit over the holidays, Kenneth urges people not to get down if they slip up. If you do gain weight or lose fitness, be proactive about restarting: “I encourage people to get back to eating healthy and get moving as soon as possible,” he said. “The longer you procrastinate and wallow in guilt, the harder it is to get back to good habits.”

For appointments with Kenneth Robinson at Regional One Health’s East Campus Center for Rehabilitative Medicine, 6555 Quince Road, call 901.515.5900