#287 Happy 2008!
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Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.

Oprah Winfrey

Your Holiday Guide for New Year's Resolutions

By the Beachbody Newsletter Staff

2008For New Year's Day 2008, we didn't want to be guilty of letting auld acquaintances be forgot and never brought to mind. So we searched through our archives to bring you a selection of some of our most popular and inspirational articles over the years to help you make your resolutions stick in 2008. Let this be your holiday key to health and happiness. Enjoy.

10 Ways to a New You

FireworksMost of us make a resolution to somehow change ourselves for the better in the upcoming year. More often than not, this has to do with our health and leads to us making a resolution where we promise ourselves to get into better shape, improve our diet, or quit a habit that we think is hurting our health or well-being.

While this trend is great for us at Beachbody (or any health and fitness company), it's only a good thing if it's helpful to you. Unfortunately, the stats show that most of us won't see our resolutions through to next New Year's. Of course, you are an individual, not a stat. Whether or not you succeed is entirely up to you.

Our job is to make your path to health and fitness easier. So here are some tips to help you succeed on your New Year's makeover.

  1. Planning for ChangesFeel free to change your resolution. After all, it's yours. You made it and you can change it. While New Year's resolutions are a great idea in theory, we tend to make them so difficult that most fail. It's the first week of the year and research tells us that the majority of people have already cheated on their resolution or given up on it altogether.

    The main reason is difficulty. The average resolution aims high—really high. For example, let's look at the ubiquitous "I'm going to stop smoking." It's pretty easy to mess this one up and once you've cheated, at all, it's very easy to give up. In fact, a case can be made that many resolutions are made too difficult on purpose because it makes it so much easier to stop trying. Instead, attempt a more holistic approach. Maybe your resolution is to stop smoking but throw in "by the end of the year." Now you've got an entire year to work towards a goal.

  2. PlanMake a plan. This is a big step, because given the above scenario, without a plan it's unlikely that you'll change anything in your lifestyle until the following December. Most of us can look at a calendar for the following year and come up with a decent idea about our schedule and what might work for us if we were, say, going to schedule an event as part of a resolution. Taking a minute to look at the upcoming year can give you a realistic sense of what you want to attempt.

    Again, using quitting smoking as a goal, you might want to schedule some kind of healthy retreat where you can cleanse yourself, get healthy, etc., during the year. You'll need to know your schedule or, as we tend to do, you may find you've made something a goal that just happens to be the month you've got a lot of other obligations. Planning ahead will stack the odds in your favor. Then you can also plan the subsequent months leading up to it.

  3. Self-ImprovementRemember the big picture. This one has to do with the fact that most resolutions are about self-improvement (or helping someone or something else improve). Some of the main resolutions we make are to quit a bad habit, change the way we look or feel, or become more educated. All of these things require our mind and body to change. And while it's possible to do a 100% turnaround at the strike of midnight, it's not very likely. Your chances for success will improve drastically if you use your brain and make a plan that allows for failure, plays to your strengths, and moves towards your overall goal in a way that makes it harder for you to quit than to keep going.

    For example, again using our age-old quest, here's an idea that's focused on the big picture. Break the year into 12 months. For January, you might want to start with an exercise program because you know that the harder your body has to work physically the less it craves cigarettes. So your entire first month might not actually address your ultimate goal directly. Instead, it can focus on something that you know will help you down the line.

Click here for more steps to building a brand-new you in 2008.

Need more planning advice? Check this out . . .

Ten-Step New Year's Resolution Plan

Chances are, everyone reading this article has made a New Year's resolution—but have you ever met anyone who has actually achieved what they set out to do? Well, this year, that person will be you, if we at Beachbody have anything to say about it! We've come up with 10 steps to help you follow through and find success in the new year.

  1. Choose a resolution that suits you. Don't be swayed by peer pressure or trends. For example, if you hate swimming, why would you choose the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon? Go with a goal that's right for you.

  2. Quit SmokingBe realistic. The most common mistake is to shoot for the moon—aiming your sights far too high, and thereby setting yourself up for failure. Be fair to yourself: assess what you've been able to achieve in the past, and work off of this baseline. The primary example of this is the ubiquitous, "I'm going to quite smoking," a resolution that tends to get blown off—literally—during the latter stages of a New Year's Day hangover. Make a more reasonable pledge, such as "I'm going to cut down each month with the goal of quitting by the end of the year."

  3. Make a single resolution. We all have many aspects we'd like to improve, but don't try and take them on all at once. Focus on one major goal. If you're succeeding come mid-year and want to add something else, that's great. January isn't the only time you can set goals for yourself.

Click here for seven more tips for your New Year's resolution plan.

And we all know how hard it is keeping those resolutions amidst the holiday stress . . .

Stress, the Holidays, and Christmas Cheer

VegetablesDuring the holidays, your life is extra stressful, which for some of us can ruin the most festive time of the year. Stress can lead to more than dreaded holiday weight gain. It disrupts our ability to function at work, messes with our moods, and can upstage the things around us that we should be grateful for. It demands attention. And with attention, stress gains power in what can become a vicious cycle of reacting to stress and building on it. But we needn't be a slave to it. By addressing the issue with a proactive mind-set, we can head stress off at the seasonal pass.

The common lore is that extra vitamins and minerals will solve the problem. After all, you can buy "stress tabs" at most any market. But according to the American Dietetic Association (ADA), "It's a common myth that our bodies use more nutrients when we're under mental stress. Although pressures at home or work sometimes cause people to neglect eating well, we do not use any more or fewer essential nutrients while under stress." So your first tip should be to eat well over the holidays. Hmm, more easily said than done.

Click here for some healthy tips for beating holiday stress.

Next year I'm going to lose that extra weight. Sound familiar?

A 10-Point Plan for Holiday Diet Success

Holiday StarGood ole "holiday cheer" doesn't always leave you feeling cheerful, especially when you can't fit into your little black dress for New Year's Eve. Here's a simple 10-step plan to make your New Year's something to celebrate. Let's start with the big picture and then count down towards a healthy new year.

  1. 10.
    Visualize.
    Your first step won't take long. In fact, do it right now, before reading step 9. Close your eyes for a moment and visualize yourself in a place you want to be sometime next year. This is a fantasy, so make it a good one. Imagine looking and feeling a way you've always dreamed of. Now hold on to that vision.

  2. Cancun9.
    Target an event for next year.
    Think of something to
    focus on as a day for looking and/or feeling and/or performing your best. It can be anything from a class reunion to a triathlon to a trip to Cancun. Your goal is to find something to look forward to that will motivate you to improve between now and then.

  3. 8.
    Fitness Program Plan a training program.
    Begin by finding a monthly
    calendar and figure out how much time you have until your event. Next, make a loose training program. You don't have to decide exactly what to do right now. Maybe start with progress you'd like to make each month leading to the event. Then either pick an exercise program (or series of programs) that will help you achieve your goals over that time.

    Be realistic. It might be difficult for you to focus on exercise and diet through the holidays, so you might want to schedule yourself a bit of flexibility for now. At this point, your aim is to plant a seed in your mind to keep you focused on a bigger goal as you go through the holidays. This little extra bit of motivation will be enough to keep your holidays from becoming one long binge.

Click here to get some more tips for battling the bulge in 2008.

And since the number one resolution is still to quit smoking, let's add a little fuel to that fire . . .

Motivate Yourself to Quit Smoking

SmokingWe shouldn't smoke and we know it. No one needs to tell us how bad it is, we know that too. So why do so many of us who want to quit fail? The answer is motivation.

If you want something bad enough you will usually find a way to get it. Every day people quit smoking. What makes some able to and others not is motivation. Usually it comes from a sense of urgency: an illness, a scary report from your doctor, a loved one getting sick, etc. But you know it would be much better if you could stop today, as in right now. This could be the extra motivation you need.

Click here to get motivated to sack the pack.

Finally, failure isn't an option for us at Beachbody and TeamBeachbody®. Once you've blown all those well-laid plans, here's how to fix them . . .

Resolution Resurrection

Your New Year's resolution is a distant memory, and it's less than a quarter of the way into the year. Statistics show that most of us let life in the "real world" get in the way of all those great notions we had as last year came to a close. Those ideas that "next year is going to be different" have already been laid to waste. But it's not too late to do something about it. New Year's Resolutions have no rules. They are simply a motivational tool to help improve yourself in the upcoming year. Well, you've still got more than 9 months left! And if you're like many people and your resolution was to look great this summer, that's not out of reach either.

Here are a few tips to help you get back on the horse. Summer's over 90 days away, and at Beachbody, we've seen that is plenty of time to change your life.

Click here for more ways to save your New Year's resolution later in the year.

Happy New Year! Here's to a fabulous 2008!

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Steve EdwardsCheck out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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8 Healthy Condiments

By Joe Wilkes

Rice CakeRice cakes. Cottage cheese. Melba toast. Diet staples bland enough to send you down to Staples to buy some Styrofoam peanuts to add a little flavor to your eating plan. But it doesn't have to be that way. Sure, if you really want to move the needle on the scale, you're going to have to cut out a lot of fat, sugar, and sodium, but that doesn't mean your new regimen of steaming, blanching, and boiling has to condemn you to a life of bland eating. Many condiments can spice up your cuisine without adding any calories, and in some cases, even accelerate your weight loss! Here are eight of our favorites.

  1. KetchupKetchup. Until recently, ketchup had been the king of the condiments. Americans have found very few meals that couldn't be improved by being drenched in tomato-ey goodness. And ketchup has quite a number of healthy properties. Remember when the Reagan administration famously classified it as a vegetable in school lunches? OK, maybe that went too far . . . but it is chock-full of lycopene, one of the most potent antioxidants around. The only problem is that most brands are also chock-full of sodium and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and sugar, which substantially defray the health benefits of the tomatoes. But more and more ketchup manufacturers are offering low-salt, low-HFCS brands; and if you can get your hands on them, you can drench your favorite meals with nutritional impunity. Or for the culinarily inclined, you can make your own ketchup and add the amount of sugar and salt that is right for you.

  2. MustardMustard. This sharp paste made from the crushed seeds of the mustard plant comes in colors ranging from yellow to brown and in sharpness ranging from tangy to eye-watering. Mustard has practically no calories or fat to speak of, and even if it did, a little goes a long way. After all, it is one of the only condiments to be weaponized. It is worth checking the labels as some are high in sodium and others can add sugar or oil for flavor and texture, but generally, mustard can be consumed guilt free—as much as your palate can handle. There are lots of gourmet varieties with ingredients like horseradish, white wine, or jalapeños added for extra zest.

  3. SalsaSalsa. In the last decade or so, salsa has overtaken ketchup as the number one condiment in America. There are literally thousands of different kinds of salsas, though most contain tomatoes, onions, and peppers as their base. Very low in calories and high in flavor, salsas are a great accent to any dish, but as with all commercially prepared items, attention should be paid to the levels of sodium and high-fructose corn syrup. It's a pretty easy thing to make yourself. A simple pico de gallo can be made by combining diced tomatoes and onions with minced cilantro and jalapeño and marinating those ingredients in lime juice. Make a big bowl on Sunday and have a healthy snack or sauce all week long!

  4. Hot SauceHot sauce. I can go through two or three bottles of hot sauce a week. My refrigerator door rattles with tall skinny bottles of the stuff and I have been known to excuse myself from the dinner table in order to towel off my face. While many have said that the high levels of capsaicin (the "burning" component in chili peppers) I consume have deadened my taste buds to subtle flavors, I would argue that the hot sauce has opened my palate wide. I pity those who don't have the iron stomach to withstand the delights offered by habanero, chipotle, and cayenne peppers. A little bit of hot sauce gives a ton of flavor with practically no calories, and the capsaicin is even believed to boost your metabolism. As always, keeping an eye on the sodium content is advisable.

  5. Soy SauceSoy sauce. Needless to say, this isn't a very good part of a low-sodium diet, but there are low-sodium versions available (although low-sodium soy sauce has through-the-roof levels of sodium compared to most other foods). Some studies have shown that soy sauce contains even more antioxidants than red wine and, as a result of the fermentation process used to make it, high levels of probiotics. It doesn't have all the health benefits found in other soy products like edamame or tofu, but as a substitute for salt as a seasoning, you get a lot more nutritional bang for your buck.

  6. VinegarVinegar. Vinegar comes in many different varieties—malt, wine, rice, cider, sherry, balsamic, and on and on. The word itself comes from the French vin aigre, or "sour wine." But unlike wine, vinegar has no alcohol and, depending on the variety, very few or zero calories. But it does have plenty of zip and tang. I find that a dash to my favorite soup or a sprinkle on my sandwich or salad adds lots of flavor without adding salt, fat, or sugar. In fact, studies have shown that vinegar helps stabilize blood sugar levels, and in one study, a test group of people who drank two tablespoons of vinegar before meals showed more weight loss than the group who didn't.

  7. YogurtYogurt. Yogurt has the most calories and potentially the most fat of any of the condiments on this list. Full-fat yogurt, in fact, can have milkfat levels as high as ice cream. But low-fat and nonfat varieties serve as great substitutes for mayonnaise or a creamy dressing without adding too many calories to your dish. And with high levels of L. acidophilus and other probiotics, yogurt can also be very beneficial to your digestive system. Try mixing some plain nonfat yogurt with your favorite herbs or a little mustard or curry as a salad dressing or dipping sauce. Or try goat's-milk yogurt for some flavor variety.

  8. CurryCurry. In different parts of the world curry can mean almost any number of combinations of savory spices. Besides the powder derived from the curry plant, curry powders and paste can contain many spices, including turmeric, coriander, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, and fenugreek. There are commercially prepared curries from all over the world, from India to Thailand to the Caribbean. Keep an eye out for salt and fat content, and you'll be on your way to giving your sauces, meats, fish, and vegetables a hit of amazing flavor without adding calories.

Related Articles:
"16 Pantry Essentials"
"4 Hearty and Healthy Dips"
"Miracle Foods to Tame That Sugar Spike"

Joe Wilkes If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Test Your 2007 Health Headlines IQ!

By Joe Wilkes

True or False?

  1. SleepFalse: Studies have shown that Americans are sleeping too much. Actually, studies in 2007 have shown that Americans aren't sleeping nearly enough. By not getting the seven to nine hours recommended every night, Americans are putting themselves at greater risk for a number of maladies, including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

  2. True: Obesity rates in American adults are leveling off. The good news is that the obesity epidemic isn't getting much worse for adults in America. The bad news is that levels were pretty bad to begin with. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than a third of adult Americans, over 72 million, are now classified as obese—a plateau from their 2003 to 2004 study. But for kids, the news is terrible. Obesity rates have risen dramatically—over nine million adolescents in the U.S. are overweight and the obesity rates have tripled for kids since the 1970s.

  3. Sit-UpFalse: Studies revealed that short workouts are largely worthless. The Journal of the American Medical Association found that for the average 50-something woman, adding a moderate 10-minute workout to her daily routine led to significant improvements in overall fitness and reductions in waist size. The mini-workouts were also believed to extend life expectancy.

  4. True: Soda drinkers had a 50 percent higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome. A Boston University study found that people who drank one or more sodas a day, diet or regular, had a 50 percent higher chance of developing metabolic syndrome—a condition usually defined as having three of the following symptoms: a large waistline, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high triglycerides, or low HDL (good) cholesterol.

  5. Peanut ButterFalse: Peanut butter, spinach, and baby carrots made for a healthy lunch in 2007. Ordinarily, they would be a really healthy lunch, but in 2007, all three of these products were recalled for fear of food poisoning. Spinach and peanut butter were thought to be contaminated with salmonella and baby carrots were recalled because of shigella bacteria. Additionally, 21.7 million pounds of hamburger meat were recalled by the Topps Meat Co. due to E. coli, as were 5 million Totino's and Jeno's frozen pizza products. That local farmers' market is looking better all the time.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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