Is it possible to celebrate the season without packing on pounds? You bet! We found seven simple strategies for preventing holiday weight gain plus a painless way to actually knock off weight.

1. Weigh yourself twice a week. That's often enough to make sure you stay on track, but not so often that you take all the fun out of holiday noshing. Step on the scale first thing in the morning when your stomach is empty.

2. Start your day with a bang. Exercising in the morning can help ensure better behavior all day long. So what if you can't get to your favorite yoga class or find time for the treadmill? Even just 15 minutes can help you maintain your fitness level. For example, jumping rope for 15 minutes torches about 190 calories; a quick yoga sequence at home can help you stay flexible.


3. Using brain scans, researchers found that when women worked out in the a.m., they not only moved more the rest of the day, but they also responded less to pictures of tempting food compared with the days they didn't do a morning workout.

4. Be picky, picky, picky. Peruse the buffet before you load your plate to avoid foods you don't really want. If, for instance, you could take or leave sushi but adore sliders, don't start with the tuna rolls hoping to be able to resist the two-bite burger. Besides, if you pick the stuff you really want and have it in moderation, you'll stave off those cravings that can get you in trouble later on.

5. Just say no—everywhere. Willpower is like a muscle: Work it and you get stronger. What's key is to practice keeping yourself in check in non-food situations, too. Whether you're driving in rush hour traffic or dealing with a temperamental kid, there are challenges that require self-control. Succeed in not honking at that rude driver, and you'll be better able to resist dessert at the party.

6. Avoid banking calories. Cutting back all day so you can indulge at an event that night only sets you up for a pig-out. Why? You're freaking starving! It's easy to get out of control when you're faced with high-calorie choices. Be sure to eat your three squares and a couple of snacks. Aim for lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, and lean protein.

7. Keep calm and kick cravings. Stressed by the sight of that holiday spread? Take deep breaths before you grab a plate. Research suggests that women who practice stress reduction techniques are able to prevent weight gain. Close your eyes and focus on your reaching for 30 seconds. Then reevaluate whether you really want to fill your plate; chances are you don't.