If you got a new fitness band for Christmas, don't wait to start getting back in shape after a month of excess.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that, after the excess of Christmas, January is the month for us to get fit. Or at least that is our plan!

We know you want to ditch the mince pies and start afresh with New Year's resolutions but some of us need a bit of help getting started.

The good news is that fitness tracking devices were one of the most popular presents this Christmas, with Fitbit's app for iPhone and iPad shooting to the top of Apple's app chart on Christmas Day, according to data from mobile analytics firm App Annie .

Whether you got a Fitbit, a Jawbone, a Garmin, a Misfit, or one of the plethora of other fitness bands and smart-watches out there, your new device can provide excellent motivation to help you achieve your weight and fitness goals in the months ahead.

Here's how to get the most out of your new gadget:

Get it set up as soon as possible
You may be tempted to put your new fitness band away in a drawer and forget about it until the New Year, but the sooner you get it set up and start measuring your activity, the quicker it will be able to establish an baseline.

Most fitness trackers connect to your smartphone or tablet via an app, so log onto the app store, search for the relevant app, download it onto your phone and follow the instructions to link it with your fitness tracker.

Straight away, you will be able to start measuring things like the number of steps taken, your heart rate, and how many calories you have burned. Depending on the device, you may also be able to measure your sleep patterns.

You might be asked to give some basic information like age, weight, height and normal level of activity. These all help to build up a profile of your current fitness level and allow you to set challenges that are suitable for your ability.

Make sure it's comfortable

Make sure the band sits comfortably on your wrist.

Fitness bands work by measuring your activity all day every day, so you'll want to make sure it's comfortable on your wrist. It will need to be tight enough that its sensors are in contact with your skin but not so tight that it's pinching.

Most trackers will suggest wearing the band on your non-dominant wrist because it moves less. This allows it to take more precise measurements. If your tracker allows, adjust the setting to specify which wrist you are wearing it on.

Edit your dashboard
Once you've worked out the basics, the next step is to edit the dashboard on your app, so that you can easily see the data that really matters to you.

For example, if you only really care about tracking you activity and don’t keep up with logging your daily meals, you may not want to see that metric in your dashboard.

You'll still be able to check this information if you want to, but the idea of the dashboard is to give you a snapshot of what you're going each day, and how close you are to reaching your goals.

Set your own goals

Most fitness trackers come with a preset goal of 10,000 steps per day, but depending on your job and current activity level, this could be too few or too many steps for you to realistically take.

If you're only logging around 4,000 steps, try to build up your daily average gradually. If you rack up 12,500 steps a day, you might want to aim higher. Your goal should change with your fitness level.

The same is true with sleep. If 8 hours is unrealistic, change your goal to 7 or 7.5 hours. Making your goals more reasonable means you're more likely to actually hit them, and ultimately makes you more likely to keep up the new regime.

Tag your activities
While some of the newer models of fitness trackers can automatically detect and distinguish between activities like running, walking, biking and swimming, many trackers have to be manually set into "active" mode.

Some trackers also allow you to tag specific activities in order to better calculate the number of calories burned, so telling your tracker when you're starting a spin class or when you're at zumba will help you get more credit for your moves.

Once you've finished your workout, make sure you tell your tracker you have resumed normal activity, so that the data doesn't get scrambled.

Sync with other apps
Fitness bands have taken off in a big way in recent years, and they now integrate with a wide range of other health and fitness apps to offer an even more detailed look at your daily habits.

These include MyFitnessPal for food tracking, Strava for getting more accurate measurements on your bike rides and runs, and Nest for automatically adjusting the temperature of your house to make sure you get a good night's sleep.

Whatever you’re sport of choice, or the area of wellbeing you're most interested in, there is most likely an app that will take the data from your fitness tracker and add layers of analysis on top to help provide better insight.

It's important to remember that no fitness tracker is perfect so, when it comes to analyzing the data, you'll need to factor in a margin of error. However, it should give you enough information to keep you motivated and on track through till Summer.

The majority of this information was taken from author, SOPHIE CURTIS From the Mirror