Help's a click away

Some days it seems like the whole world's conspiring against you and your New Year's resolution to drop those extra pounds.

You're trying to be good, passing up on that daily cookie habit that could you know would go straight to your waistline if left unchecked. But there's food everywhere you look. Every second television commercial hawks some ooey, gooey, cholesterol-laden heap of comfort that's the perfect accompaniment to going through those obscene holiday credit card statements.

Yes, temptation is everywhere. But so is help.

The American Heart Association has just launched an online fitness and nutrition tracker. It's based on the principle of balancing what you eat with your level of activity. It helps you set your goals, monitor your progress and see results. And that's one of the keys to motivating people to meet their goals.

The AHA estimates that you can expect to live two hours longer for each hour of regular exercise. It depends on how vigorously you exercise, but any activity is beneficial.

One drawback for Canadians — to register, you must supply an American address. Too bad Canada's Heart and Stroke Foundation doesn't have a similar tool.

And what about all those calories you take in? If you've ever wondered what a couple hundred calories really look like, this site will show you that almost 600 grams of broccoli, less than one glazed doughnut, about a mouthful of peanut butter and one and one-third wieners all equal about 200 calories — or about 10 per cent of your caloric needs for a full day.

One of my favourite online tools — the the Gmaps Pedometer — lets you measure your running/walking route. If you input your weight, it'll estimate the number of calories you burn on your workout — and it will spit out an elevation chart to tell you how flat or hilly your route is. You can save the route for future reference.

USA Track & Field has taken the online exercise tool a step further. It lets you mark your water stops. Americans can save their routes to a database so others can use them. Not much good this side of the border — but if you're planning a trip to, say, Philadelphia, you could pull up the "Rocky run with a glorious cheesesteak reward at the end" route.

You'll need every centimetre of the almost 22-kilometre route to earn the calories in that sandwich.