Gingerbread men. Pie. Eggnog. Hors d'oeuvres. Candy. Hot buttered rum.
The season of eating is under way.
But holiday weight gain is not inevitable. With a little self-control and a healthy dose of exercise, you can enter January in pants that still fit comfortably.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the old standards to avoid extra pounds: eating right and exercising. Put more fruits and veggies on your plate, the agency says, and limit fatty or sugary foods. Aim for at least 2 1/2 hours of activity a week.
You won't be able to avoid goodies entirely – and an occasional indulgence is no biggie – but it may help to seek out seasonal activities that aren't centered on eating or drinking.
You'll find plenty of opportunities to fill your calendar. Here are some places to start.
Dec. 1: Dig out the hat and gloves and go ice skating in downtown Tampa at the temporary rink at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.
Dec. 2: Be grateful your family isn't the Griswolds as you set the stage for the season with a viewing of "Christmas Vacation" at 10 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater.
Dec. 3: Don that red sweater and head to the beach for your annual holiday photo shoot. Once that's done, take advantage of the location and spend the afternoon playing in the sand or walking along the water.
Dec. 5: Listen to carolers and check out Victorian-themed trees at the University of Tampa during one of four discount nights for the annual Christmas Stroll.
Dec. 7: Feel fit and festive as you jog through St. Petersburg for the Boley Centers' 29th annual Jingle Bell Run.
Dec. 9: Holiday party plans? Eating something light before you go will make it easier to resist decadent treats.
Dec. 10: Sip on cider as you take in the colorful lights of the Treasure Island boat parade, one of several parades cruising area waters this month.
Dec. 11: Add a little extra to your grocery cart – then donate it to local food drives this month. Metropolitan Ministries is accepting donations through Christmas Eve.
Dec. 12: If the stress from your to-do list is doing you in, try meditating. Mindfulness Meditation meets Monday evenings at Thank You Mama in St. Petersburg.
Dec. 16: Get cultured at "The Nutcracker," performed by the Next Generation Ballet at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.
Dec. 17: Ditch the car and go for a walk to get a close-up look at neighborhood light displays. Hyaleah Road near Busch Gardens goes all-out every year.
Dec. 18: Decompress with one of Starbucks seasonal drinks. The Gingerbread Latte is your best bet at 150 calories – tall, nonfat, no-whip, though!
Dec. 21: Celebrate the first night of Hanukkah with the lighting of a giant menorah in Hyde Park Village from 6 to 8 p.m.
Dec. 22: String some popcorn and cranberries for a garland and don't feel bad if you sneak a few handfuls of the low-calorie popcorn.
Dec. 23: Top off your last-minute gift shopping at The Shops at Wiregrass with a 250,000-light display synchronized with the music of Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
Dec. 25: Take advantage of the slower pace and closed businesses on Christmas and spend the day relaxing with friends and family.
Dec. 26: Shopping can burn more than 150 calories per hour, so put on your sneakers, make your returns and seek out the post-Christmas deals.
Dec. 29: Get some help with your New Year's resolutions by setting goals and tracking your progress on the 43 Things iPhone app or at www.43Things.com.
Dec. 31: Toast the New Year and all your hard work to stay fit and healthy with a glass of bubbly, which comes in at fewer than 100 calories per flute.