This is the time of year to kick back a bit and take stock of your health and fitness efforts this past year. Whether you are performance-oriented, motivated by body image, or maintain a fitness program and an eye on your nutrition just for health reasons, planning is the surest way to achieve your goals. This honest assessment will help you decide what worked and what didn’t over the past 12 months, and help you make plans and set goals for next year.

If you have been working out steadily throughout the year, it’s time to dial it back a bit and be sure all bodily systems can recover. Your fitness will not suffer and your body will thank you for it when you dial it back up again after the New Year. If you have been intermittent in your workouts for the past few months and you want to help avoid the holiday weight gain, December is a good time to get some consistency into your workouts by starting with two to three low-intensity workouts each week. These can be as short as 20 minutes and can consist of walking, hiking, light cycling, or swimming. In this way you set yourself up for a solid workout plan come January.

Whichever camp you are in, it is wise to show some restraint at holiday parties and family meals in terms of food and drink so that the fitness hill you have to climb to meet your goals doesn’t become too steep next year.