The holidays are finally over.

Between Christmas shopping, wrapping presents, baking cookies, attending parties, hosting out-of-town relatives…it's no wonder you've missed a workout or two.

And that normally healthy diet you follow so closely? Being surrounded by Christmas candies and decadent holiday menus makes it impossible not to indulge!

Don't worry. You're not alone! We're all feeling the effects of the holiday season.

So start the New Year off right, and get back to taking care of YOU.

Fortunately, that does not mean you have to join an expensive gym or hire a personal chef. These exercise and eating tips demonstrate that even a small change can make a big difference in the New Year. Read on!


Eating


An apple a day. Study after study verifies that a diet full of fruits and vegetables results in a healthier body, wards off disease and delays the effects of aging. Help get your five servings a day by enjoying some fresh veggies for an afternoon snack and a piece of fruit sometime after supper.



Got soy milk? Protein-rich soy milk contains isoflavones, which help suppress the growth of cancer cells. Soy milk's antioxidants are also believed to help fight the effects of aging. They have been found to help increase bone density, strengthen the immune system and lower cholesterol.

Not sure that calcium-fortified soy milk is for you? Try it with your cereal or stir a little into your coffee for starters.



Savor foods slowly. Not only are you more likely to overeat and neglect portion control when you are quickly shoveling in your supper, but you are also less likely to enjoy the food. Don't eat in front of the television or (even worse) standing over the sink.



Fill up on fiber. Fiber can lower blood pressure and cholesterol. It also reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes, and it leaves folks feeling full and satisfied. Strive to work beans, grains and high-fiber breads and cereals into your daily menu.



Green Tea Time. Green tea was the first tea studied for cancer-fighting properties. It is also credited with improving the immune system and decreasing the effects of arthritis and cardiovascular disease



Eat regularly and snack often. Skipping meals will most likely cause you to eat more at a later time. Healthy snacks and nutritious mini-meals not only boost your metabolism and energy, but help keep dinner portions in tow.



Drink 8 glasses of water a day.

To help:

  • Keep a pitcher of water in your refrigerator, so it's handy & well-chilled.
  • Drink water with each meal. It's good for your digestion and may help you feel full so you eat less.
  • Bored with plain water? Perk it up by squeezing a wedge of lemon or lime into it.


Have a couple of food habits that are hard to kick?
Here are some healthy substitutions that still taste great.

If you usually have Try instead Calories saved
orange juice mandarin-flavored seltzer water 104
popcorn with 2 tablespoons butter unbuttered, air-popped popcorn 200
canned fruit cocktail in heavy syrup canned fruit cocktail in extra-light syrup 65
eggs egg substitute 50
2 tablespoons ranch dressing on salad lemon juice and tarragon 148
chocolate ice cream low-fat, low-sugar chocolate frozen yogurt 87
mocha frappaccino regular coffee 420
vegetables with sauce vegetables with herbs 105


Exercise


In a two-year study of more than 230 overweight and inactive men and women, researchers at the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas found that those who sneaked more movement minutes into their days by:

  • taking the stairs at the office
  • parking farther from the door at shopping malls
  • pulling weeds around the yard

These men and women achieved the same improvements in fitness, blood pressure and body fat as those who went to the gym and exercised vigorously for 20 to 60 minutes five days a week.


Here are some other daily activities that can keep you healthy.

Activity Calories Burned
Cooking & Food Preparation 71 – 99
Gardening 142 - 198
Grocery Shopping 99 – 139
Ironing 65 – 91
Moving Furniture 170 – 238

Raking Grass or Leaves

113 – 159
Snow-blowing (walking) 127 – 178

Snow shoveling

170 – 238
Stair-climbing 227 – 318
Sweeping 71 – 99
Vacuuming 71 - 99
Walking (moderate pace) 85 – 119
Washing the Car 127 – 178

* Figures based on 30-minutes of activity by person weighing 125-175 lbs.