LSU AgCenter Chancellor Starts Healthy Lifestyle Blog

William Richardson, Holston, Denise, Roy, Heli J., Schultz, Bruce  |  10/19/2007 12:37:44 AM

News Release Distributed 10/18/07

LSU AgCenter Chancellor Bill Richardson is determined to lose weight, and you can watch his progress on the Internet.

Richardson started a Web log, or “blog,” on Oct. 1, with an entry titled “The Gut Stops Here.” In the blog, he reveals his frequent struggles to eat properly and exercise regularly.

The chancellor said he shares the same problem the bulk of Louisiana residents have: he weighs too much, has eaten too many of the wrong foods and has exercised too little. But he’s changed those patterns.

He said one purpose of the blog is to show how someone can follow LSU AgCenter recommendations to live healthier. And he will include Louisiana agriculture products in his diet to promote what the state’s farmers produce.

He said the LSU AgCenter has a Web site loaded with information on diet and nutrition. “The challenge is to get people to adopt the information we have,” he said.

A big problem is that Louisiana food is difficult to resist, Richardson said, and events and get-togethers are celebrated with food. “Food is part of our culture, just like the music,” he said.

He said his weight gain started several years ago when he had to stop running for exercise. He ran marathons and races, training at the rate of 20 to 30 miles a week, but he had to give it up because of arthritic knees.

“About a year ago, I started to realize I need to increase my activity again,” he said.

Richardson said his weight loss actually started about 18 months ago, and so far he’s dropped 25 pounds total, with 10 pounds being shed since he started the blog.

Richardson said his daily caloric intake before the blog was about 2,700 to 2,800 calories a day. That has been reduced to the nutritionists’ recommendation of 2,200. In the beginning of the blog, he was actually eating 1,500 calories a day, and nutritionists figured that wasn’t enough for him.

He said it’s not difficult to stick with the calorie limit, as long has he avoids unhealthy foods. “I actually have plenty of food to eat.”

Richardson said a big improvement in his diet included more whole grains and dairy products.

He said maintaining an exercise routine was difficult at first because he could talk himself out of taking that first step out the door. “I’ve got a whole book of excuses.”

With his doctor’s help, Richardson came up with a plan to walk 40 minutes, four times a week, at the rate of 4 miles per hour. That amounts to 160 minutes out of the week’s total of 10,080 minutes.

Richardson said he feels better, has more energy, and his clothes fit more comfortably.

Richardson’s blog entries on his challenges of eating properly and exercising are followed by a response from LSU AgCenter nutritionists, including Heli Roy and Denise Holston. They remind readers of things they’ve probably heard before. But they bring up new ideas such as asking for a to-go box and setting part of a restaurant meal aside before eating the meal.

In addition, the blog includes links to more articles on nutrition and health.

Roy said Richardson is committed to losing weight. “He’s enthusiastic, and he is serving as a role model for improving your health through diet and exercise,” she said.

She said food should not be seen as just something that tastes good and provides energy.

“The food we eat helps determine our long-term health,” Roy said.

She said Louisiana food products are healthy.

“The way we prepare those foods is what makes the difference,” she said. “That is where we need to re-educate our palates.”

For example, catfish is nutritious, but always frying it is not a good healthy practice, she said.

Portion control and resisting bad foods can be difficult. “It is a daily struggle with the abundance of food we have,” she said.

Roy said Richardson is fortunate that he decided to start the program out of choice before his weight and eating habits caused long-term health effects.

“It is unfortunate that most people come to realize they have to do something only after there is a serious problem,” Roy said.

Also, readers of the blog can offer their comments. Allen Hogan, LSU AgCenter county agent in Jefferson Davis Parish, gave the chancellor encouragement and said his own weight-loss experience has prompted friends to lose weight.

“You will probably enjoy the process more than you think you will,” Hogan advised the chancellor.

You can keep up with Richardson’s blog. Go to www.lsuagcenter.com and click on “Chancellor’s Challenge Blog.”

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Contact:
Bill Richardson at (225) 578-4161, or brichardson@agcenter.lsu.edu
Heli Roy at (225) 578-4486, or hroy@agcenter.lsu.edu
Denise Holston at (225) 578-4573, or dholston@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:
Bruce Schultz at (337) 788-8821, or bschultz@agcenter.lsu.edu

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