Each year we invite an extra few pounds to join us at our holiday celebrations. This year, ditch the age-old excuse that "it's the holidays" and keep those pounds away with a few simple tips:

Keep Your Distance

Don't seat yourself in front of or stand near the buffet table at the holiday party. In fact, make a plate of any veggies that are available and walk away. Filling up on these high fiber foods will allow you to feel satisfied. Plus, mingling with people away from the table will keep you from wandering back.

Don't Skip Meals

Eating all three meals is an important way to maintain your energy throughout the day, keep your metabolism up, and help you avoid snacking and overeating at your next meal. Make sure you eat breakfast the morning of the big party, otherwise you will be so hungry later that you will eat twice as much.

Hydrate

Make sure you drink plenty of water. A study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that people who drink two cups of water before breakfast eat 13% less than those who don't. Drink water between your appetizers, dinner, dessert, and alcoholic drinks (which should be limited to one).

Keep Track

Keeping a food diary helps people lose weight and can help you survive the holiday treats. Take note of what you are eating and how much of it you are eating. One piece of candy can quickly turn into two or three if you are mindlessly eating. Take your serving and find a place to sit. Add your treat to your list of food for the day. This will act as a reminder of what foods you have already enjoyed.

Bake Smart

If you are cooking or baking any meals, look for ways to cut down on the calorie, fat, and sugar contents. Substitutions can be made to make the treat healthier while still tasting great, such as using apple sauce instead of oil in a cake.

Stay Active

Don't sit after your big meal. Take a walk around the neighborhood or break out the Wii. You will feel better and so will your waistline.

Following these simple rules will help you maintain and even lose weight over the holidays. Plus, you'll get to use your New Year's resolution for something more fun than dieting!