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COMPUTING

From...

New Year's resolutions the Web way

Achieve perfection by 2000--with a little help from the Web.

January 4, 1999
Web posted at: 10:00 AM EST

by Lisa Moskowitz

(IDG) -- It's already time again to ponder the wonder of another year gone by and to prepare for a fresh start come January 1. With only 365 more days until the beginning of a new millennium, what better time than now to revamp your life with a New Year's resolution or two?

If in the past you had trouble sticking to those promises, take heart. This time around the Web might just offer you the inspiration you need to make those lasting changes.

Whether you want to lose weight, quit smoking, or pay off your financial debt, you'll find sites geared toward easing your vices. Tips, self-help articles, online programs, and sympathetic, supportive chat rooms abound. Take a look at these suggestions.

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Weighty Matters

So you could lose a few pounds? Who couldn't, except maybe Ally McBeal? One of the most comprehensive weight-loss Web sites is Dietcity.com. For about $2 a week, you receive a customized weekly diet plan via e-mail.

Your diet is based on a personal profile that you fill out. Plans include meals and recipes, or, if you don't have time to cook, you can request a convenience plan that suggests popular low-fat frozen meals from Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice. Your e-mails will also include exercise suggestions and a customized shopping list. Log in each week to report your progress and your next week's menu will be sent. Free information on the site includes daily diet tips, advice from a registered dietician, and basic health articles.

For basic tips on healthy, low-fat eating, visit the American Dietetic Association. Learn such lean culinary secrets as substituting evaporated skim milk for cream and applesauce for oil in baked goods will be revealed. You'll also find specialized information, such as nutrition tips for children and women. A section called In the News highlights diet and nutrition topics of popular interest and provides the ADA recommendation on those subjects. If you need the help of a real, live nutritionist, ADA's network can hook you up with one in your area.

Fabulous Fitness Tips

Right behind the ever-popular diet resolution is the I'm-gonna-get-in-shape-even-if-it-kills-me resolution. Luckily, lots of sites can help you survive your fat-burning, muscle-building odyssey. Start the adventure with a stop at the iVillage Fitness and Beauty channel. You'll find tips on tightening your abs, delving into yoga, and weight lifting. If you're looking for camaraderie, check out the chat rooms and message boards on subjects from weight loss to workouts.

The FitnessZone offers inside information on the fitness world, including the latest news on supplements and exercise. Evaluate your fitness level by filling out a free profile, or use the Gyms Locator to find a gym near you. Members can post classifieds, chat, and receive a weekly FitnessZine update.

Dying for a Cigarette?

Maybe the healthiest resolution you can make this year is to quit smoking. But cleaning out your lungs isn't exactly the easiest thing to do. ("Quitting smoking is easy," said Mark Twain. "I've done it a thousand times.")

This time, begin kicking the habit with a visit to the American Cancer Society. Sections cover teen and pregnant smokers, parents who smoke, and your everyday smoking pariahs who really want to quit. The cold hard truth about lung and esophageal cancer is bound to convince you to keep your New Year's resolution.

At Blair's Quitting Smoking Resources you'll find tips for quitting, recommended reading, common mistakes people make when trying to quit that foil their good intentions, and how to cope with the inevitable urges you'll face as you try to stamp out the habit.

The Quit Smoking Company provides a bulletin board and a bi-monthly newsletter. Recommended methods for quitting range from cold turkey to acupuncture. Advice from other users and book excerpts round out the broad resources.

If it's group therapy you're looking for, try BetterHealth's Smoking Cessation community. Several chat rooms and message boards put you in touch with other quitters. Members can take the Kick Butt Challenge and learn how to deal with (and avoid) the weight gain, irritability, and stress that quitting can entail. Read others' success stories and figure out how much money you'll save when you finally stop smoking for good.

Debt and Taxes

Speaking of money, my personal New Year's resolution is to get rid of my debt. If the collection agencies know your number or you're thinking of buying a house soon but don't have the cash, check out Quicken.com's Saving & Spending section. Take the Financial Health Checkup to determine just how much in the hole you are, then follow the tips offered. The Debt Reduction Planner can help you figure out how to decrease your debt wisely, and the Savings Calculator will tell you how much you need to put away to reach your goals.

Overwhelmed by all these help-yourself sites? Remember they offer one final advantage over friends and family: They won't nag you about how well you're keeping your resolutions, even if ('fess up!) some of those resolutions do start to slide toward the next millennium.

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