The winter months are upon us and the excuses to become less active and focused on your diet plan are right there for the taking. While the average American only gains a pound or less during the holiday season, according to the National Institutes of Health, over time this slight weight gain can add up to a big problem. Let this year be the year that you take a proactive approach to keeping the pounds off.

Here are tips to help you navigate the winter months while staying on track with your wellness goals.

• Make hearty stews loaded with protein and vegetables. Slow-braised meats, soups, and chili are perfect wintertime meals. Plus, they can be made in a slow cooker so that they’re ready for you when you get home from work or a day of shopping. Another benefit to using a slow cooker is that you can use low-calorie seasonings such as broths, herbs, and spices, and the slow-cooking process allows the flavors to grow, making added fats and sauces unnecessary.

• Spend at least 15 minutes outside daily, even if it’s not sunny. The days are shorter now and less sunlight can leave you feeling fatigued. Less sunlight also affects your body’s ability to produce serotonin, the feel-good hormone. You will feel better and be less likely to seek other ways of producing serotonin, such as by eating starchy foods, if you get outdoors.

• Keep up with your fitness routine. You may not be able to do the same outdoor activities, but there are plenty of ways to workout indoors. If going to a gym is not possible, try an exercise video or a video game that gets you up and moving. Staying in a routine is much easier than starting again.

• Keep track of your caloric intake. Spending more time indoors can lead to more snacking. That’s why journaling is so important during this time of year. Carry your journal with you and write down what you eat as soon as you eat it. This way you will not forget to add those small bites or tastes that often are not recorded.

• Watch alcohol consumption. Alcohol is not only extra empty calories, but it also lowers inhibitions, potentially leading you to make poor food choices. Sip on water or unsweetened beverages and, if your must have a drink, make sure to drink lots of water to stay hydrated.

With planning, a positive outlook, and action you will not have to worry about stumbling on the road to a slimmer, healthier you. Ask your Medi-Weightloss Clinics® professional for additional tools to help you navigate the winter. Stay warm!