12/14/2012 11:52 am ET Updated Feb 13, 2013

Jump-Start Your New Year's Resolution to Lose Weight Today

'Tis the season for overeating... fa la la la la la la la la. For many of you, this carol has been playing in your head since the beginning of November. You enjoy the holidays, but you can't wait until the new year rolls around so you can repent for all of your overeating with a resolution to diet and exercise.

Research shows that most people who make resolutions to lose weight at the start of the year will abandon them -- some as early as the end of January. So, if your annual holiday tradition is to overeat and work it off in the new year, you might consider starting something new.

Why not pick up a few new, healthy habits before the start of 2013? By following these simple tips, you will be able to leave the extra holiday pounds (and the guilt that comes with them) in 2012.

Cut the Calories, Keep the Flavor: Yes, it's possible to cut the calories of some of your favorites without sacrificing the taste that you love. If you prefer cooking traditional dishes at home, use the freshest ingredients. Adding more garlic, onions, cilantro or other fresh herbs is a simple way to keep your calories low.

Swap it Out: Most recipes can be adapted to contain less sugar, less salt and less fat without taking away the taste or quality. Everything can fit into a balanced diet in moderation. So instead of losing your favorites, just find ways to enjoy them with a twist. If you love desserts, look for the ones made with low- and no-calorie sweeteners. If your cake recipe calls for butter, try using applesauce or butter substitutes with no trans fats instead.

Get Moving: Most of us realize the need to exercise more. But fitting in the time to work out among our other priorities can be a challenge. Try some simple exercises without leaving your house, such as jumping rope in the garage, walking in place or lifting soup cans while watching TV, dancing while cleaning the house, etc. Just stay active every day because every little bit counts.

Wet Your Whistle: Staying hydrated is one of the most important things you can do for yourself every day. Among other things, it can help you avoid overeating (a lot of times, we mistake thirst for hunger). And any beverage can keep you hydrated. Dial up the flavor on a pitcher of water by adding cut-up cucumbers, watermelon, berries, oranges or lemon slices. Or you can grab your favorite low- or no-calorie drink like Diet Coke, Vitaminwater or sweetened tea. Just stay hydrated.

Fit in Family Fun: Spending time with family can be the best part of the day. And family can provide a reason for being active and eating healthy. Get outdoors with your kids to play catch, or schedule a family fun night with activities and games. Also, plan out your favorite meals and cook them together. This can create a supportive environment for making better choices for you and your family.

Make "Me" Time: Remember to schedule a little time for yourself. Reduce daily stress with exercise, friendships, group affiliations, hobbies and laughing. Make and keep a doctor's appointment at least once a year. And most importantly, go easy on yourself. The key to success is taking it one day at a time.

Happy holidays and here's to a healthful head start to 2013!

For more by Sylvia E. Meléndez-Klinger, click here.

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