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."
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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?"
Expert: Tal Ben-Shahar, psychologist and author of Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy
Gift: "Give someone you care about the gift of time," Ben-Shahar says. "Spend time with him or her exclusively—without interruptions of people or technology."
Expert: Michael Roizen, chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic and author of RealAge: Are You as Young as You Can Be?
Gift: A garlic press. Research suggests that raw garlic helps prevent cancer, and freshly pressing it releases allacin, a substance that improves the immune system. Roizen will also be giving out hula hoops, which he says boost heart health, muscle tone, and flexibility, and can help you burn up to 420 calories per hour.
[See Best Heart-Healthy Diets.]
Expert: Tara Lipinski, gold medalist in figure skating at the 1998 Winter Olympics
Gift: "I love spin and yoga," Lipinski says. "Buying a package of classes for someone would get them hooked on a fun form of exercise."
Expert: Maksim Chmerkovskiy, professional dancer on Dancing With The Stars
Gift: Dancing lessons. "I don't think people realize how many physical, mental, social, and personal benefits dancing offers," Chmerkovskiy says. "You can't really understand it until you try it."
Expert: Mark Ballas, professional dancer on Dancing With The Stars
Gift: Concert tickets. "Music is good for the soul," he says. "What could be healthier than that?"
Expert: Travis Stork, emergency physician and host of The Doctors
Gift: A spa day and golf lessons. "I'm a big fan of gifts that provide an experience and a health benefit, without cluttering your closet," Stork says.
Expert: Marie Savard, internist and women's health expert
Gift: Savard will be giving a batch of her homemade "heart, colon, and waistline" granola, which is packed with fiber and nuts. She wraps up a big serving for family members and friends, along with the recipe and a reusable container. Another healthy gift idea? Savard suggests offering your time to promote someone's health like going with someone to a doctor's appointment.
Expert: Lisa Leslie, former WNBA player and four-time Olympic gold medalist
Gift: The NuWave Oven, which Leslie uses to cook healthy meals for her family. "It's a gift every mom would love," she says, since it helps make dinner prep fast and easy.
Expert: Devin Alexander, host of America's Chefs on Tour and author of the Biggest Loser Cookbook series
Gift: Mini wine glasses, martini glasses, or ramekins, which allow you to indulge without overdoing it. Alexander will also be giving Kangoo Boots, which are thought to help walkers burn calories.
Expert: David Grotto, registered dietitian and author of The Best Things You Can Eat, out January 8.
Gift: Edible arrangements, or the Harry & David fruit-of-the-month club. Other ideas: Vitamix blenders, Hungry Girl cookbooks, a crockpot, a bento box, a portion plate, a mango corer and splitter, or a pineapple peeler.
Experts: Chris and Heidi Powell, trainers on Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition
Gift: Accessories that make working out more fun—like an iTunes gift card to spice up that exercise playlist, or even a new iPod.
Expert: Joel Fuhrman, family physician and author of Eat to Live
Gift: Heated gloves from the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute, which Fuhrman likes to use while skiing. He also gives cases of his favorite fruit, Hitachi persimmons, along with instructions on how to ripen them properly. One additional gift: bodylastics, exercise bands that help create a home gym without weights, equipment, or space.
Expert: Gail Simmons, Top Chef host
Gift: David's Tea. "I have been a fan of their teas for a long time and think they make a beautiful, healthy holiday gift, full of antioxidants and nutrients to warm your soul," she says. "They have a huge selection of tea packages to suit any taste, from green to mate to oolong, in dozens of loose-leaf flavors or as special collections." Simmons also suggests tea accessories, such as glass cups and mugs, which make brewing at home a pleasant experience.