December first already… At the risk of sounding cliched, this year has really flown by! (Honestly, I think I’m still back in April somewhere.)

December is a very official month. Officially the beginning of the holidays, officially the end of the year, officially time to start thinking of all the ways you want the new year to be different so officially, the last chance to really indulge our excuses and bad habits. (I’m super good at that part.)

I get annoyed by all of the holiday headlines reminding me not to be naughty. I don’t know if it’s some deep seeded sense of rebellion, but the more I’m reminded not to indulge, the more I want to. One cookie becomes four cookies (they’re only here once a year!), road trip travel food becomes super sized (the next meal could be late), workout time becomes sit-down with the relatives time.

Forgive me for getting preachy here, but it’s funny how consuming this all-or-nothing attitude about diet and exercise can get when the truth is, every little bit counts. If you can’t make it to the gym for a full hour, go for half, go for a ten minute walk, do some jumping jacks when you wake up. If you have an extra cookie, stop there! You haven’t blown your whole diet, not for the week or even for the day. And you don’t have to wait for January first to start your restrictive, low cal, low carb, ninety minutes of exercise a day regimen. Trust me, the luster of that wears off really quickly.

Once you figure out that you like taking care of yourself because you deserve to feel good, that side salad starts looking a lot better than the cheesy potatoes and crashing on the couch in front of the TV isn’t nearly as memorable as going for a brisk walk and chat with those cousins you only see once a year.

Spark People (which is an excellent, free, online community if you’re not familiar with it), has a lot of great articles on starting small and fast break exercises that are really helpful this time of year.  They also put together this little December calender I wanted to share – 31 Days to Healthier Holidays which you can download here. It’s not a “diet” tool. It’s about creating holidays you can enjoy, feel good about and fit into a healthy lifestyle (keyword: lifestyle).