Parties, pot lucks, cookie trays, little indulgences and day-long gatherings … the holiday season is essentially designed to undermine the willpower of even the most dedicated among us. The worst part, of course, is the unspoken truth that those extra pounds stick around long after the season has passed.

By following a few rules, you can set yourself up for success and prevent that extra weight from slipping past your defenses. And you don’t even have to give up celebrating to do it!

Check Your Weight 2x a Week

No more. No less. You want to be aware of what’s happening with your weight throughout the season, but you don’t want to obsess over it. Twice a week, say every Monday and Friday morning, is enough to help you on course but won’t take all the enjoyment out of holiday treats and events.

Make Exercise Happen (in the Morning)

Our already busy lives get even crazier this time of year. Stressing about not doing enough exercise will only makes things worse. If you can’t get your regular workouts in, just make sure to fit concentrated bursts of activity in. Fifteen minutes of at-home exercise is enough to maintain in the short term.

If at all possible, get that workout in first thing in the morning. Knowing you’ve put that effort in, combined with the exercise itself, will boost your energy, reduce your stress, and can also help you resist the day’s temptations.

Don’t Save Up Your Calories

Not eating throughout the day so you can indulge later is not a good plan. It messes with your metabolism, saps your energy and almost always leads to overindulging at the anticipated event. Even worse, you’ll likely be making up for the day’s deprivation with high-calorie party food. Keep your eating normal over the course of the day to avoid showing up to an even ready to eat everything in sight.

Go for Favorites First

Chances are, any given buffet or selection of appetizers will have a couple of things you love and a bunch of stuff you don’t really care about. Before you start noshing or filling your plate, take a moment to see what’s available and then start with your favorites. You’ll still need to pay attention to quantities, but this strategy will take care of your cravings first, leaving you filled with more satisfaction and less regret.

Pause and Breathe

One of the best things you can do may also be one of the hardest during the hectic holiday season: slowing down. When we pause and take a moment before making a decision or taking an action, we frequently make better choices.

Use this method to help strengthen your willpower by paying attention to how you respond in every stressful situation, not just when you’re faced with yet more cookies. From in the car, to at home, to online, the more you exercise your willpower, the stronger it will get.

Pausing and giving yourself the chance to breathe is also a tried and true stress management technique. And when you’re less stressed and stopping to question your impulses, you’re more likely to move on without acting on them.

Finally, slowing down here and there is the perfect way to really take in all the friends, family, festive decorations and seasonal joy around you. You’ll be glad you did!

Enjoy the Holidays and Happy New Year!