When you're known for being healthy—for your fitness DVDs or dancing career or stellar diet—how do you keep that spirit alive in your holiday gifts? Surely trays of cookies and deluxe ice-cream makers are off limits. But that leaves plenty of room for gifts that are as good for you as they are fun. U.S. News caught up with 21 of today's most celebrated health and fitness experts, including Dr. Phil, Travis Stork, and Mark Ballas, to see what kinds of healthy goodies they're giving this year.
Expert: Cheryl Forberg, nutritionist for NBC's The Biggest Loser
Gift: A set of Cat Cora SnapFit peelers, three different colored fruit/vegetable peelers that snap together for easy storage. One has a serrated blade to peel soft-skinned fruits and veggies, another has a straight blade for firm-skinned items, and the third has julienne blades Forberg uses to make her own baked vegetable chips.
Expert: Phil McGraw, host of Dr. Phil
Gift: A portable music player, so recipients can take their favorite tunes with them wherever they go. It's something Dr. Phil finds "very therapeutic and soothing to the soul," he says. "The 30 minutes on the elliptical won't seem as tiring, and the yard work won't seem like such a chore." Another healing gift idea: rescue pets. But, McGraw warns, make sure that the recipient is up to the challenge first. "No surprises here, they have to commit 100 percent," he says.
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Expert: Walter Willett, chair of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health
Gift: A nice bottle of olive oil. "Or for someone special, maybe an olive oil-of-the-month club membership," Willett says.
Expert: David Katz, founding director of Yale University's Prevention Research Center
Gift: An item that caters to the recipients' favorite recreational activities. Since he and his wife like to take outdoor walks together, he will give her "a beautiful, warm shawl for chilly days," Katz says. Several of his kids enjoy dancing, so he gives them dance clothes, music, or additions to their home dance studio. And for an equestrian, like himself? Horseback riding clothes or gear. "By giving presents or gift certificates that relate directly to what someone likes to do, you're guaranteed to be giving a gift they'll actually want and use, and encouraging that activity, which is a good thing."
Expert: Elisa Zied, registered dietitian and author of three books including Nutrition At Your Fingertips
Gift: A pedometer. "You can make it a game with your family or friends to see who accumulates more steps over a week or a month," she says.
Expert: Jack Canfield, co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series
Gift: Empowerment and love. "What could be more loving than helping people you care about become free from their limiting beliefs and fear of success?" Canfield says. "Anything you can give to empower them to create the life they truly want is a treasure during the holidays."
[See Best Weight-Loss Diets.]
Expert: Joshua Fields Millburn, half of the pair known as The Minimalists, who write about living with less stuff
Gift: Experiences—like tickets to a concert or play, a home-cooked meal, breakfast in bed, a foot rub, a vacation together, or watching a wintertime sunset. "Don't you think you'd find more value in these experiences than in material gifts? How much more memorable would your holidays be?" Millburn says.
Expert: Mitzi Dulan, registered dietitian and team nutritionist for the Kansas City Royals
Gift: Copco Stir 'n Sip Cups, Gymboss interval timer, or an eyemask for better sleep.
Expert: Albert Nerenberg, laughologist
Gift: Laughter. It's free and easily shared. "The holiday season is a great time to help spread cheer, literally," Nerenberg says. "I plan to laugh with babies, dogs, grandpas, and various other festive characters. And I won't hold back. Next time you hear a decent joke, why not laugh your rear off? Why not hold your belly, throw back your head, and go for it?"