The holidays: a time for family, fun, winter activities, and WEIGHT GAIN? The early November through mid-January holiday season can be a contributor to yearly weight gain. People who are overweight or obese to begin with are at greater risk of gaining weight during this time period. But it does not have to be that way! Start preparing yourself now for the holidays with these five tips:

1. Get in the habit of weighing yourself at home.

Studies show that weighing yourself daily produces better weight loss outcomes over those who do not. Get in the habit of weighing yourself daily, or at least once per week so you can keep an eye on weight gain before it happens and take steps immediately if the scale starts to creep slowly up this winter.

2. Make working out a priority.

As you prepare for the busiest time of year, solidify your workout habits pre-November. Make time for yourself all winter long by scheduling in daily physical activity instead of letting this priority drop. The months before the holidays arrive are the perfect time to start a new class at the gym, start a walking group at work or recruit a friend for evening workouts. While prepping your gift wish-list, consider asking for new workout clothes or a set of personal training sessions. Help get the New Year off to a bright and healthy start!

3. Specialize in a healthy holiday recipes.

Classic holiday recipes can pack in serious calories and are especially high in salt, sugar and fat. Eggnog, cookies, mashed potatoes, gravy, candy, and hot chocolate can pack hundreds of calories per serving, leaving you feeling sluggish and tired. Prepare for healthy holiday eating by picking out healthier recipes to try for your friends and family this year. Crack open the holiday cookbooks early so you can plan some new favorites this year. When bringing special snacks to the office, serving friends for dinner, or contributing to a party, you can be sure that your dish will not add to holiday weight gain for yourself or the people you care about.

4. Plan special events that do not revolve around food or eating.

When thinking about time off of school and work, or planning time with friends and family, pick an activity to participate in that does not involve eating as the main activity. Plan outdoor activities such as skating or sledding, attend a play or musical, or make wreaths or holiday crafts together instead. Even if you have a special dinner or event planned, try to fit in some time with your loved ones without eating such as a post-meal walk. Plan ahead this holiday season and shift the tradition from food to spending time with loved ones.

5. Sleep.

Studies show that sleep deprivation can lead to unhealthy food choices and weight gain. Sleep can be interrupted by a busy schedule, stress, alcohol consumption and lights or technology in the bedroom. Before this holiday season commences, ensure that you have enough time to sleep each night (most adults require 7-9 hours). During cold and flu season, be sure to make sleeping a priority even during a hectic schedule. Aim for 8 hours per night with a similar time schedule for going to sleep and waking up. Sleeping supports your immune system and leaves you feeling energized enough to enjoy all the holiday parties and activities.