Whether you’re searching for the right career, scoping out a new place to live, or planning a vacation, life is all about making right choices. Staying healthy also requires you to make key decisions. Finding a great gym, making the time to work out and eating right all require proper planning. With the holidays upon us it’s almost a sure thing that most guys will cheat on their nutrition and stall some important gains. Whether you are attending family gatherings and holiday work parties or meeting friends out for lots of food and drinks, here are some pointers that can keep you lean and on track with your fitness goals.

Holiday brunch on the weekends with friends can be a pleasure. But in one sitting you can literally consume your daily calorie requirements of fats and carbs. Ask for egg- beaters when ordering an omelet. Stay away from bagels and Danish as well as sweet rolls and muffins. Instead, opt for an English muffin or a couple of pieces of whole grain toast. Try unbuttered grits with a little fresh salsa instead of hash browns. Avoid processed meats like bacon and sausage. If you really want to cut back on calories and provided you have the will power, drink sparkling water instead of Mimosas, Screwdrivers and Bloody Marys.

Lunch with friends and co-workers to celebrate the season sounds simple and convenient. Yet, those burgers, sandwiches, and salads can be terribly fattening. Between those slices of bread lurk some serious calorie pitfalls like mayo, salad dressing, several servings of salty cold cuts, and loads of fattening cheese. Choose whole-grain breads or better yet, a wrap and grilled chicken instead of ham, roast beef, tuna or chicken salad. If you choose a salad make sure to avoid croutons, bacon bits, and thick, fatty dressings. Order only half a sandwich or salad and avoid super sizes.

Pasta is good energy food but request a half portion and you’ll save hundreds of calories. Eat pasta earlier in the day so that the carbs fuel the rest of the day’s activities. If it’s available, choose a healthy whole-wheat pasta or spinach pasta for a more fiber-rich dish and pair it with a lean protein grilled portion of chicken or fish. Avoid cheesy calorie-dense dishes like ravioli, manicotti and lasagna.

Sushi is a healthy choice when dining out. Broiled fish, steamed veggies, edamame and tuna, yellowtail and salmon sashimi are all tasty and light Japanese fare. But unless you want to look like a sumo wrestler, steer clear of tempura and agemono, which indicate deep-fried. 

The time you put into your workouts is crucial. Yet it’s what you put into your mouth that will make or break your physique. Don’t let the holidays be your downfall. Make healthy choices starting now!