30 Days of Giving & Receiving: ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Winner Melissa Rycroft Shares Her New Year Plans (EXCLUSIVE)

Melissa Rycroft is ending her year with a bang.

After defeating Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson and General Hospital star Kelly Monaco on Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars in November, and finally won that mirror ball trophy that alluded her in 2009, the 29-year-old says she’s looking forward to enjoying a holiday feast with her family.

“I look forward to the special family time every year,” she told Celebuzz. “Everyone is in such great spirits. It’s such an amazing time.”

For our 30 Days of Giving & Receiving, we spent some time with the star to talk about her favorite Christmas memories, ways to stay healthy this season and why she’s looking forward to the year ahead.

Read on for our exclusive one-on-one interview with the former Bachelor contestant.

Celebuzz: What’s your favorite Christmas memory?

Melissa Rycroft: When I was eight, I wanted a pet so badly for Christmas. I remember being disappointed after we had finished unwrapping all our gifts and there was no pet. My mom asked me to help her throw the trash bags away in the garage, and while I was walking down the hallway to the garage, I saw a small cage with a guinea pig in it! To say I was excited was an understatement! I loved it. I still to this day remember how happy I was to have my own pet.

CB: How do you spend the holidays?

MR: We spend it with the entire family! Christmas Eve is spent with my parents and siblings. We always eat fajitas for dinner and have our gift exchange. Christmas morning is spent just me, [husband] Tye Strickland and [daughter] Ava, where we do our own family gift exchange. I make a big breakfast: eggs, sausage, toast, pancakes….we go all out! We spend Christmas evening with Tye’s family and have a huge feast. My favorite dish is sausage and cornbread stuffing.

CB: Why is it important to make resolutions this time of year?

MR: I’ve always loved this time of year — how one chapter closes with the end of another year, and a new one is about to begin. I’ve always believed that the start of a new year is the perfect time to start a new you, or at least an updated you. We should always be striving for more — to be the best we can — and to even try to beat our best. Resolutions, while silly to some, are such a great way to start a new year off with new goals. They should definitely be realistic so that they stay attainable.

CB: What resolutions have you made and stuck to in the past? Are you making any this year?

MR: Last year, I made a resolution to stay more organized. I tend to feel a little chaotic most of the time, so I made a plan to slow the chaos down, take a deep breath and enjoy the little things in life more. And that’s exactly what I did this year. I didn’t do anything life-changing. I just set my mind to it and I realized how much happier I was! Although my chaotic life didn’t slow down, I developed a different outlook on it and learned to enjoy it! I’m partnering with Extra gum this New Year because I believe that living a healthy lifestyle isn’t about giving up the things you love, it’s about moderation and making good, maintainable decisions.  I love swapping instead of feeling like I’m sacrificing. I’m adding something new into my life.

CB:Speaking of the new Give It Up For Gum program you’re working on, which focuses on swapping high calorie options for healthier choices, what tips do you have for staying calorie-conscious during the holidays?

MR: First of all, don’t be afraid to try everything. The more you restrict yourself, the more you’re going to want that bite. So do it! But, just make it a bite. When grabbing your food, get a helping of everything — but just a small taste of everything. Don’t overload the plate with the potatoes or mac’n cheese. Just take a small spoonful. Also, start eating the healthier food first: the turkey, ham, chicken, veggies and fruit. Fill up on the healthy stuff first, and you’ll be less hungry to devour the unhealthier food.

A simple swapping solution is passing up a higher calorie snack for a stick of gum instead. I have a sweet tooth and at five calories per stick, Extra is a great way to satisfy a craving. Something else we do is take a walk around the neighborhood after dinner. It just makes us feel better to get in some sort of exercise after eating a large meal.

Stay tuned to Celebuzz as we celebrate 30 Days of Giving & Receiving with the stars this holiday season!

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