The simple fact that you are intending to not gain weight during this holiday season already puts you ahead of the game!

Q: How can I get through the holiday party season without gaining weight?

A: Here are my top five tips for avoiding unwanted weight gain:

1. Set your goal. It sounds as if your goal is to maintain your current weight. Other triathletes may allow for three, five or even eight pounds of off-season weight gain without stress or worry. Whatever your intent is, set it, write it down and check your weight once each week to ensure you stick to it.

2. Pick your food “battles.” All too often holiday party food choices are not really made — it’s always hard to say “no” when a friend offers her own homemade cheesecake. But this year, vow to make conscious food choices at each event. Decide in advance that you will eat, for example, only three hors d’oeuvres, only two cookies or only one helping of your Aunt Millie’s famous mac-and-cheese.

3. I have my clients bring a healthy fruit- or vegetable-based item to gatherings and continue their in-season intake of fruits and vegetables during their off-season. Doing so will help keep your energy stable, immunity high and belly full, and minimize intake of unhealthy fatty foods.

4. Beware of liquid calories. Resist the temptation to drink high-calorie beverages you wouldn’t normally drink during the season (do the words “cocktail,” “eggnog,” “milkshake” or “aperitif” mean anything to you?).

5. Be honest about (and then consistent with) your holiday exercise schedule. We all need a break after a long, hard season of tri training, but “off-season” means different things to each of us. Some take four to six weeks completely off, while others continue to exercise daily, or switch to winter cross-training activities. Whatever you choose, being honest about your expected decrease in exercise will help you avoid weight gain.