Do you receive those wonderfully attractive catalogs in the mail for calorie-laden cheese-and-sausage gift baskets? If you’re like me, you’ve sent these gifts in other years, hoping to please the palates of those you care about.
Today, almost all of my friends and family are, like me, conscious of their weight and trying to become more fit. So what can I give my family and friends to encourage healthier eating and exercise habits?
Here are some ideas:
1. The Great American Eat-Right Cookbook ($29.95) by Jeanne Besser and Colleen Doyle, MS, RD. This is one of the best cookbooks I’ve come across lately. Readers get 140 great-tasting, good-for-you, easy-to-prepare recipes. Each main dish, snack and dessert recipe includes a nutritional breakdown per serving of calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium and protein. Curried chicken salad, Provencal fish and chocolate-almond biscotti are just a few of the recipes in this multicultural collection. As an added bonus, the purchase benefits the American Cancer Society.
2. Pedometer ($15—$50). This wearable device tells users the number of steps they take each day as they walk or run. It provides an easy way to keep track of one’s exercise. More importantly, it will spur users to reach their daily goal of the recommended 10,000 steps.
3. Heart monitor ($40—$80). This device will help wearers keep their heart rate within the recommended guidelines for their age range while they exercise. It will also help them make sure they reach their recommended aerobic level of exercise.
4. Hand weights ($20—$30) or a weighted vest ($120—$200). By carrying extra weight, users can increase their heart rate and build muscle as they walk, jog, run or even cook or dance.
5. Exercise ball ($10—$30). Your friends can perform exercises and stretches on the floor. But by adding an exercise ball, they can increase the range of their routines; some exercises will help them stabilize their core abdominal strength, which will also improve their balance and coordination.
6. Jump rope ($10—$15). Jump ropes are still in style. A simple 20-minute workout with one of them will get the user’s heart pumping, increase flexibility and build bone mass.
Singing one of those happy playground chants from his or her childhood while jumping will lighten their spirits as well.
7. Mini-trampoline/rebounder ($100). Users can jump with their children or grandchildren. (If they don’t have any, maybe they can borrow some from the neighbors.)
8. Gym membership gift certificate (cost varies). Help someone you love start a new fitness program by doing an online search for local gyms that sell gift certificates. Sometimes folks just need a little financial encouragement to get started.
9. Resistance bands ($20—$30). These bands are small and portable—perfect for helping users maintain their exercise routines while away from home.
10. Yoga mat and/or yoga class gift certificate ($10 and up). Encourage your friends and family to study yoga to increase flexibility, improve circulation and prepare the body for exercise and/or meditation. It’s important to have the guidance of a trained yoga practitioner to ensure success and prevent injury, so search for a well-established yoga studio that sells gift certificates as well as yoga mats.
11. Subscription to a fitness magazine ($10—$20). Here’s reading material that will inspire and educate your friends while they work out.
12. A fresh-fruit gift basket ($25—$50, depending on weight and recipient’s location). Navel or mandarin oranges are high in vitamin C and contain antioxidants. For friends and family who live in colder climates, these are a sweet treat.
And if you can’t think of anything else, you can always give your friends and family a copy of my book, From Fat to Fit. The story of a community of over 1,000 folks who changed their lives by working together has a happy ending, just like this blog!
My best to you during this holiday season.