How to banish that post-holiday belly fast!

Six tips to help you start the year with a weight-loss win!

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(Photo Cheyenne Ellis/Alyssa Pizer Management)
(Photo Cheyenne Ellis/Alyssa Pizer Management)

Fed up with living in a world of diet don’ts? So are we. That’s why we developed The Do Diet, a radical new way to eat, full of easy dos to get you on the right track.

1. Adopt a four-legged fitness friend
“Being a dog owner forces you to walk your dog at least once a day,” says Nanci Guest, a registered dietitian and personal trainer. And while a love of animals and the ability to provide a good home should always be the primary reasons for getting a pet, the health benefits are nothing to shake a paw at. In fact, a 2008 study in the American Journal of Public Health found that dog owners were up to 77 percent more likely to achieve sufficient levels of physical activity than people without dogs. And if you already have a dog, perhaps you and your pooch can make shedding pounds a team effort: A 2004 study at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago found that both people and their pets had better weight-loss results when they exercised together.

2. A post-holiday purge
While the festive season lasts for only a couple of weeks, leftover holiday treats can linger for months — and wreak havoc on your weight-loss goals. “Get rid of all those boxed chocolates, baked goods and nut mixes as soon as you go back to work,” says Guest. “If they stay in your house, you’ll eat them.” And while they may seem like nothing, three chocolates after dinner every night adds up. “At 70 to 100 calories each, that’s a pound of body fat in less than two weeks,” says Guest. Her solution? Take them to work, share them with neighbours or donate them to a food bank.

3. Invert your priority list
We’re all guilty of putting ourselves last, and this is especially true over the holidays, when it’s easy to skip the gym and neglect sleep. To take the best care of yourself and those around you, you must put your well-being at the top of your priority list. Here’s how:

Book some “me” time. Start with a few 15-minute periods during the week or an hour on the weekend. Use the time to visit a bookstore or coffee shop, brainstorm, read or write in your journal. It’s the only way to consistently stay in touch with yourself and be intentional about your life. Plus you’ll have an easier time reaching your weight-loss goals.

Recognize health isn’t a luxury. When it comes to things that benefit your body or mind, stop worrying about the price tag, says Guest. “Whether it’s organic berries, dinner at a vegan restaurant or a yoga class, anything good for you is worth the investment.”

Schedule exercise every day. Subject line: Workout. Priority: High. Yes, we know things come up, but if you plan daily exercise, you’re more likely to actually get to it three times a week. “We find time in the day to read the paper, watch TV and spend too many hours on social-networking sites. Make sure 30 to 60 minutes of exercise is in there too,” says Guest.

4. Make over comfort foods
Everyone loves a soothing meal on a cold day. And this elegant, healthy “fried” chicken is sure to please:

This is an elegant healthier version of fried chicken. Crushed croutons add a zesty crunch. Tangy Dijon mustard and tarragon give it a French flair.
Crispy-coated french chicken

Prep 6 minutes, Total 41 minutes

Ingredients
3/4 cup croutons
4 skinless, bone-in chicken breasts
1 tbsp butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp honey-Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp dried tarragon

Directions
Preheat oven to 400F. Place croutons in a plastic bag. Coarsely crush with a rolling pin. Lay chicken, bone-side down, on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Stir butter with mustard and tarragon in a bowl.

Coat chicken with butter mixture. Sprinkle crushed croutons overtop, then press into chicken. Roast in centre of oven until golden, 35 to 40 min.

Serves 4 | Per serving 212 calories, 33 g protein, 6 g carbs, 5 g fat, 186 mg sodium.

5. Start a short-term relationship with a personal trainer
A full-time trainer may not be in everyone’s budget, but don’t let that stop you from seeking professional advice. “Even if you only do two or three sessions, it can kick-start critical lifestyle changes. Plus you get a program that’s tailored to you,” says Guest.

6. Find a new (delivery) man
That’s right! It’s time to break up with the pizza guy and replace him with organic-produce delivery. It’s not as pricey as you’d think: Green Earth Organics, which delivers in Vancouver, Toronto and Simcoe-Muskoka, offers a Family Harvest Box for roughly what it costs a family of four to have dinner at Pizza Hut.