Why do a few extra pounds on our frame after the holidays seem to set off alarms? Gym memberships don't typically soar the week after St. Patrick's Day or Easter -- two occasions known to involve some overindulging -- but right after New Year's many of us are compelled to splurge on a fitness club or dieting plan. (It must have something to do with our inborn desire to get off the couch as the Bowl Championship Series football schedule winds down.)
Where do we turn, besides away from the cookie tin?
The Diet Blog (www.diet-blog.com) is a handy resource for investigating what works and what doesn't when it comes to losing weight and getting fit.
"No more big fat lies" is the motto of blogger Jim Foster. Foster makes clear on the site that he's neither a doctor, nor dietitian nor fitness guru. He's a regular schmo who's been trying to lose weight and turned to the blog to share his discoveries with others. But this is no diary, it's a smart series of links and commentary on all things diet-related.
The site has a sophisticated following of readers, many of whom enhance Foster's postings by leaving very useful comments. A recent Foster post bemoaned a report about the high level of toxins found in farmed salmon from Europe. Salmon has a starring role in many diet recommendations.
"It seems you're damned if you do, and damned if you don't," Foster writes.
A reader provided a link to a list of the best and worst seafood choices for one's diet (Oceansalive.org).
Some other recent topics: diet pills marketed to adolescents; a "reality check" on the exercise machines that promise six-pack abs, and the advantages of intuitive eating in place of dieting.
Of course, some of us don't want to hear about intuitive eating and exercise, we'd prefer a prepackaged diet regimen. Diet Blog has specific reviews of each of the most popular diet plans around.
For the best-selling South Beach Diet, for example, Foster recommends skipping the diet's spartan first phase (of severe carbohydrate restrictions), and starting with the more manageable second phase. (Several reader comments concurred.) Foster also recommends considering the online version of South Beach because it provides access to hundreds of recipes.
Foster also has a companion site, Every Diet (www.everydiet.org), which describes in detail just about any diet plan known to humankind.
If you're ready to steel your resolve for a healthier new year, here are some other sites worth seeing:
AOL's Better Body Blog (http://journals.aol.com/betterbodyblog/TheLine is overdrawn BetterBodyBlog): Three women who are AOL editors write about their self-improvement efforts in the gym and in the kitchen.
A Trail Runners Blog (http://runtrails.blogspot.com): Scott Dunlap, a trail running fanatic in Woodside, Calif., writes words of inspiration and information for the runner of any experience level.
Stumptuous.com (www.stumptuous.com/cms/index.php): Not a blog format, but great weight-training advice geared toward women.
Getfitsource.com (http://getfitsource.blogware.com): Getfitsource is a company that sells fitness equipment and products, but their general health and fitness blog has some valuable links.
Greg Connors' column about blogs appears every other Monday in The Link, alternating with Karen Robinson's NewsPower column. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.