It's the new year and more than just a few people in my life (myself included) are looking to get healthy and shed some pounds this year. I was looking for ways to cut some calories out of my day, and here's what I stumbled on and wanted to share.

Happier Hour

After work many of my friends like to hit happy hour, especially if it has been a long day or a hard week and I get it. I used to do the same thing. Maybe you're not going anywhere to hit happy hour. Maybe you head home and pop a cork and put your feet up. Try this instead: Meet for a quick glass of wine with a girlfriend and then put on your gym shoes and go for a walk. Just 20 minutes of brisk walking can get your heart rate up and your blood pumping. If you're headed home instead, don't stop when you get there. Immediately change clothes and do some calisthenics like jumping jacks, lunges, sit ups, push ups and planking. It doesn't have to take very long and it can actually perk you up.

Dance Your @$$ Off

When I got home from work, I used to pop on my gym shoes and go downstairs to do a good 30 minutes of brisk walking. Then after two days I thought, "OK. This is boring and you hate it. Do something else." What I did next was not only fun, but burned way more calories than a boring walk on the treadmill. After I get home from work and the shades are still down, I change clothes and crank up iTunes and have a 45 minute dance party for one. I can work in weights, abs, calisthenics and running. Over the weekend I actually burned 550 calories in one day. It's silly, it's fun and it's a great way to get moving without other people seeing me.

Join a League

Another fun way to socialize and exercise at the same time is bowling. My mother, my best friend, my sister and my two aunts are all on bowling leagues or have been at one time or another. Bowling for 90 minutes burns an average of 300 calories, plus you can lift weights with the bowling ball in between throws. Just stay away from the fried appetizers and beer and you'll be fine.

Mix Up Your Menu

My favorite way to lose 250 calories is with food. I love food. I love to eat and I eat with great gusto, the problem is, the food bit back and now I have 45 pounds to lose just to get back to wedding day weight. Oof. Thankfully, I've made it my mission this year to swap healthy foods out for what I normally use and watch my portions.

Instead of a sausage, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich at the drive through, pick the egg white and veggie wrap. Skip the potatoes and fancy coffee in favor of plain black coffee. If plain black coffee is generally too strong for you and you like cream in your coffee, add some hot water and use less cream. Adding skim milk is even better. Instead of pasta, use spaghetti squash in its place. If you really love your pasta (and I don’t blame you) use whole wheat pasta instead. Just watch your portion size. Those carbs and calories add up quick. Instead of an entire 16 ounce can of New England clam chowder, have a can of reduced sodium chicken noodle soup with a side salad and a little balsamic with one ounce of cheese. Instead of sautéing veggies or garlic in butter or oil, sauté in broth.

Do You Have Any Smart Swaps?