Every year, it seems the holiday season starts earlier and earlier. As soon as Halloween candy hits the shelves, the uphill battle against holiday season bulge begins. By the time it’s New Years Eve, you feel weighed down by every cookie and cocktail you consumed at all of those family gatherings and holiday parties.

With all the temptations, the challenge to keep your diet on track can seem insurmountable, but with these 10 tips, your skinny jeans will be thanking you come January 1st.

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1. Eat Ahead of Time

Going to a holiday party that promises a plethora of fat-laden food? Before heading out, have a hearty snack or healthy meal so that you don’t arrive at the party ready to eat anything you can get your hands on.

2. Keep Track of Your Weight

No one likes to get on the scale, but during the holiday season weighing yourself each morning will help you monitor any gains or losses. If you’ve put on a few pounds, try to eat lighter that day and be sure to hit the gym. If your weight has stayed the same or even decreased, you can treat yourself with an extra gingerbread man.

3. Exercise When You Can

Between shopping for gifts, visiting relatives, preparing meals and a variety of other holiday tasks, finding the time to hit the gym seems impossible. However, find little ways you can workout while you go about your holiday errands. Hitting the mall to pick up some presents? Park at the back of the lot and give yourself a nice little walk. Carrying in groceries to prepare a holiday meal? Give those bags an extra lift or two, or take two trips to the car. Use stairs instead of escalators or elevators. It’s easy to find little ways to remain active if you just keep an eye out for opportunities.

4. Slow Down

If you’re going to eat some of that honey-glazed ham or your grandma’s famous sweet potatoes, remember to eat slowly. Really savor your food rather than scarfing it down. The slower you eat, the more time you give your stomach to determine whether or not its full. You’ll find you eat less when you’re eating slower.

5. Try Different Recipes

There are so many healthier, lighter variations on your favorite traditional holiday dishes. Substitute one or two items on your holiday dinner menu with recipes that have less calories and fat. 

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6. Get In Those Nutrient-Rich Holiday Staples

Pumpkin, turkey and cranberries all offer a variety of nutrients that your body needs. Enjoy the foods that not only satisfy your hunger but provide you with health benefits.

7. Keep a Food Journal

When you force yourself to write down everything you put in your mouth, you’ll reconsider that piece of pie. Also, when you see that you’ve consistently followed your diet plan, you can give yourself permission to have something a little off track as a reward.

8. Be a Social Butterfly

Be sure you’re moving around at holiday parties rather than parking next to the bowl of Chex Mix or next to the appetizer table. If food isn’t within arm’s reach, you might not be as tempted to snack mindlessly.

9. Embrace Winter Sports

Ice skating, skiing, snowboarding, sledding, all of these activities will help you burn calories while getting your family outside and away from the kitchen.

10. Have an At-Home Workout Option

Whether it’s an exercise DVD or an online workout program, give yourself an easy way to burn calories even if you can’t hit the gym.

With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s important to take care of yourself. Hopefully these tips will help you remain focused on your weight loss and fitness goals over the next few weeks. Best of luck, and happy holidays!

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Alli Sands is a freelance writer. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.