We are coming up on the fattest holiday of the year. The average American will gain 15 lbs over the holiday season. What can you do to help make sure you are not the average American? Here are some simple things you can do to help yourself and your family stay healthy and in shape over the holidays.

1. Eat before you go to a party. If you eat before a party you are less likely to snack all night on fat infused appetizers, drinks and desserts. An extra 770 calories over the 45 days or so that make up the holidays, starting before Thanksgiving and going through New Years, will give you 10lbs. Just consider how many calories are in the foods and drinks you are having each day, especially as you are enjoying yourself at a party.

2. Exercise - as little as 15 minutes on an elliptical machine or treadmill can help keep you feeling good and looking your best every day. Exercise is a great way of releasing endorphins, which can help you handle the stress of the season. If you don't have time to get to the gym, park at the other end of the parking lot and walk a bit further. During your breaks at work, walk around the building several times. Not only will this help you burn a few extra calories, but it will also make you more productive at work.

3. Avoid sugar - 1 teaspoon of sugar will take your immune system "off line" for 4 hours. Most of us will spend the next 45 days with a lowered immune system because of all the sugar we will be consuming. If you need to have something sweet have a piece of fruit.

4. Water - drink water. If you are out at a party have a glass of water or two between each alcoholic drink you have. Water helps keep you hydrated and can help prevent a hang-over. Every day you should be drinking half your body weight in ounces of water.

5. Sleep - I know with days off we like to enjoy late nights. Sleep is vital to health, as we sleep our bodies are able to repair, rebuild and perform "self checks and diagnostic exams" to make sure our bodies are in good order. Keep your sleep routine even during the holidays.

6. Wash hands - many of us will be traveling over the holidays, touching doors, airplane seats, and merchandise that other people have touched. Washing our hands allows us to stay healthy.

7. Relax - just because you were invited to 15 different parties, it does not mean that you need to go to every one of them. Choose the most important parties to go to and decline the rest. You and your family need to spend time together over the holidays, because your time together strengthens the family unit.

8. Laugh - good deep belly laughs not only give the abdomen a work out, but it also helps again to release endorphins that improve the health of the body, mind, soul and spirit. Find time everyday to laugh for 5-10 minutes, laugh until it hurts or you cry which every comes first.

9. Find alone time - it is important to take care of yourself. Especially you, parents! Many of us will be spending time with our extended families for the holidays, but don't forget to find time to be with just your nuclear family. Even if you just take a 10 minute walk outside together and check in with everyone.

10. Say NO - it is ok to say NO over the holidays. Don't spread yourself too thin; emotionally, financially, physically or spiritually. Remember the meaning behind the holidays, it is a time to get together with loved one and friends, it is a time of laughter and joy.

11. Keep the alcoholic drinks to a minimum - one 6 oz glass of red wine has been found to be good for your heart. Drinking and especially overdrinking causes the liver to work harder to process the alcohol.

12. Eat fresh fruits and veggies - the vitamins, minerals and nutrients in these foods can help boost your immune system, keep your skin looking healthy and help to maintain your blood sugar levels.