If you’re like me, you approach the holiday season with a combination of pleasurable anticipation and dread. Thanksgiving and Christmas provide opportunities to get together with family and friends, reenergize old bonds, and catch up with the goings on. But, these annual gatherings can also send us into stress and food overload.

Have you attended a blitzkrieg of holiday gatherings sleep-deprived and wishing you’d had the willpower to resist over-imbibing in egg nog and fried appetizers? Do you find that your regular gym visits dwindle to a trickle towards the end of the year? Do you want to kick yourself when you finally get up the gumption to brave the bathroom scale for a reality check?

Wouldn’t it be great to start the new year feeling refreshed and pleased with yourself? With these 3 simple changes you can make this holiday season different:

1.  Eating: Portion Control

It’s simple. We eat too much food at holiday time. We’re tempted by special treats, family favorites, endless gatherings featuring over-sized meals, and groupie behavior. According to statistics, the average person racks up 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Turkey Day. And since the parties continue through New Year’s Eve, it’s no wonder we gain weight. It’s hard to resist the panoply of tasty delicacies and equally challenging to ignore the call of leftover confections. My advice: Don’t attempt full-on deprivation. A better strategy is to “be a little bad.” Enjoy a few indulgences, but be very diligent about portion control. Use an app like MyFitnessPal for added accountability.

2.  Stress: Just Say No!

Celebrations are part of the fun of the holidays. While it would be nice to keep everyone happy and show up for every shindig, don’t do it. Give yourself permission to pick and choose. Rather than running yourself ragged and turning into a stress mess, be strategic about which invitations you accept. Prioritize the invites. Office parties and family gatherings are command performances. Politely excuse yourself from get-togethers where you won’t really be missed, or make a fleeting appearance and then quietly back out of the room. It’s all about keeping your sanity and hoarding some time to recharge your batteries. If you have guilt pangs, just remember there’ll be plenty of other opportunities to get back in your friends’ good graces when your life is less crazed.

3.  Exercise: Take Exer-Snacks

Workouts are typically the first thing to go when we get busy. Ironically, we’re abandoning the best stress reliever around at the time when we need it the most. There are only so many hours in the day and something’s gotta give. Be a realist and set a goal of keeping that body moving at least a little bit. Now is the time to “think outside the gym.” Make peace with the fact that you’ll ditch your regular routine and just be conscious of sneaking in little bouts of exercise throughout the day. Take exer-snack breaks. Walk the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Pace your office during mind-numbing conference calls. Slip outside mid-afternoon when your energy flags. Take a walk after dinner. It’ll not only help with digestion and sleep, but remove the temptation to snack. Your motto should be “Something is better than nothing.”