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Your Holiday Fitness Program

The holiday season can be enough to derail even the most dedicated exerciser. Here are some tips to help you stay fit through New Year's.
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You're busy, you're stressed, it's chilly out … so why not just take a break from your fitness program until the New Year?

Sure, you can always come up with an excuse not to exercise. But slacking off on your fitness program during the holidays will only leave you with more pounds -- and more stress -- come New Year's. Fitness experts recognize that this time of year is difficult for many people trying to stick to an exercise program, so they have some suggestions to keep you motivated and disciplined.

The first step, says lifestyle coach April Masini, is acknowledging the holidays probably will affect your exercise program to some extent. Then you can make adjustments that will help you stay fit during the season. For example, if you usually take exercise classes only offered at a certain time, skip the classes and take a hike or a swim at an indoor pool instead.

"Take an honest look at your schedule, and instead of trying to squeeze exercise into your schedule, take other things out," Masini suggests. "The goal is not to do more (as we all have a tendency to do this time of year), but to do less, but do it all well."

It's also important to keep fitness a priority in your schedule, says Rich Ray, chairman of the Kinesiology Department at Hope College in Holland, Mich.

"Whether or not you already have well-established exercise habits, make sure you actually schedule time into your day for your exercise," he says. "There's nothing like having an entry in your Palm Pilot for exercise."

Indeed, maintaining a workout schedule is even more important this time of year because most of us tend to eat more than usual, says Michael Thurmond, author of the 6 Week Body Makeover and resident fitness guru on ABC's "Extreme Makeover."

As such, Thurmond recommends not only keeping to your same schedule, but striving to add an extra workout session or two whenever possible.

"Not only will this make a difference physically, it will mentally remind you that your No. 1 objective is to lose weight and stay healthy," he says.

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