About the Chancellor's Challenge Blogs

A major initiative of the LSU AgCenter is to help the people of Louisiana live healthier lifestyles. The Chancellor's Challenge blog provides educational information on how to lose weight and keep it off and lower the numbers related to such health issues as cholesterol, body mass index and blood pressure. The current blog began in November 2008 and is a weekly blog prepared by LSU AgCenter faculty and staff. They share their expertise--many of them are registered dietitians--and their personal experiences in trying to eat better and be more physically fit.

The initial blog was written by LSU AgCenter Chancellor Bill Richardson as a personal commitment to serve as an example that people can change. He shares the struggles he goes through in trying to eat healthier and incorporate more exercise into his busy lifestyle. Most of his blogs were followed by advice from LSU AgCenter nutrition experts. And all of his blogs contain links to more information. His blogs started Oct. 1, 2007 and ended Oct. 31, 2008.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Map out your plan

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(Editor’s Note: This week’s blog is written by Kathy Loyd, manager in the LSU AgCenter’s Human Resource Management office.)

Motivation is not all there is to achieving our goals.

Recently, I went to visit my brother in North Carolina. A friend he had not seen in quite some time had come over to visit. I thought this would be a great time to get in my daily exercise. I visited for a little while and then told them I would be going out for a short walk while they had a chance to catch up. The neighborhood where my brother lives has many cul-de-sacs so taking a walk around the block gets sort of tricky. My nephew told me that I could get a really good walk in and the route was very easy if I just went a certain way – no cul-de-sacs involved. At this point I will mention that my sense of direction was never one of my strong points for getting from here to there, and I might add that maneuvering his neighborhood was quite tricky. Needless to say, my short walk ended up being a long strenuous workout up and down hills as I tried to find my way back to his house. I did, however, meet up with a very nice, helpful postman and a couple of public utility workers, who were gracious enough to pull out a map. I will say no more on that matter – but leave it to your imagination.

My adventure got me to thinking about goals and motivation. But mostly, it got me to thinking about a sense of direction or lack thereof.

As we go through our life’s journey, many of us make goals along the way. Regular exercise has been one of my goals. We tend to meet our goals when we are motivated to do so. I was motivated to get some exercise even though I was out of town. However, it helps to have a good sense of direction in order that we can take the best possible route. If your goal is weight loss…map out your plan. If your goal is to eat healthier…map out your plan. If your goals it to begin an exercise program…map out your plan. If it is to visit your brother in another state – especially remember to…map out your plan!

Get motivated, stay focused and don’t get lost! Having a sense of direction will get you to your destination, whatever it might be, much quicker!

Kathy Loyd


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Parents can help slow obesity rate rise

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The prevalence of obesity has increased in both children and adults in the past 20 years. In Louisiana, the prevalence of obesity among adults rose from 12.3 percent in 1990 to 30.8 percent in 2006, an overall increase of 150 percent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children increased to about 32 percent from 1999 to 2006. This means that one in three children is either overweight or obese. Research also suggests that kids are not only too heavy, they're also out of shape, according to a study of fifth and seventh grade students.

Obesity brings with it alterations in glucose and lipid metabolism, high blood pressure that leads to type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and cerebrovascular disease. Obesity also increases the risks of obstructive sleep apnea, osteoarthritis and a number of types of cancer. In addition to these medical problems, obesity has many adverse social and psychological costs. Adult weight loss rarely leads to sustained weight loss, and, therefore, recent programs have attempted to address prevention of obesity in children. Prevention of obesity in childhood and effective treatment of overweight children are essential to prevent adult obesity. Several studies have looked at incidence of obesity in children. Parental obesity has an effect on whether or not a child will be obese later in life, and there is some data that shows that parental obesity increases the probability that a child will become an obese adult.

What are some of the signs that parents can look for?

  • Make sure you breast-feed your baby, if at all possible. Breastfeeding is one of the earliest preventive methods. Children that are breast-fed weigh less than bottle-fed babies.
  • Babies who gain weight quickly during the first six months of life may be more prone to obesity as toddlers.
  • Living in a stressful household may raise a child's risk of becoming obese.
  • Children who watch more than two hours of television or use the computer and play video games are more overweight than who spend less time with these activities.
  • Eating out often can contribute to eating too much because of the larger-than-necessary serving sizes offered in restaurants and the types of foods that are offered for children, mainly fried foods lacking in fresh vegetables and fruits.
  • If your child is indoors and inactive every day after school, it is time to think of alternatives.

Various things parents can do to keep their babies and children’s weight in check:

  • Help children and teens think differently about their eating and exercise habits, not as a bad dose of medicine, but as fun parts of a healthier lifestyle.
  • Encourage children to drink water instead of soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks.
  • Reduce sugar intake by the equivalent of one can of soda per day to improve blood glucose and insulin levels and reduce the risk for chronic diseases.
  • Have less food away from home or pre-prepared foods and offer home-cooked meals instead.
  • Make sure fresh fruits and vegetables are available for snacks between meals. Children will eat fresh fruit if they are available.
  • Lack of sleep has been linked to overweight and obesity in children and adults. Children should get adequate amount of sleep. Here are some guidelines: younger than 5 = at least 11 hours; ages 5-10 = at least 10 hours; ages 10 and older = at least 9 hours.
  • Include the whole family when making lifestyle changes. Good habits are good for everyone.

Heli Roy


Friday, April 17, 2009

135 and Counting…Down

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(Editor’s Note: This week’s blogger is Kristen Manes, an analyst in the Human Resource Management office and a member of the LSU AgCenter’s Wellness Committee. This is her second blog.)

A couple of months ago – in an attempt to be a little relatable, real and, hopefully, funny in the blog, “Step Away from the Cupcake” – I published my weight on the Internet. I’m not sure if this should be considered brave or calculating. Why? Because since that was posted, I’ve shed 9 pounds. After I saw that number in print – accessible by all of my co-workers, their friends, my family and the entire blog-reading community – something snapped, and I took action. I started to exercise regularly and decreased my portion sizes a little. It was nothing drastic, but enough to get the ball rolling in the right direction. (Yes, I still eat cupcakes – one at a time.) It’s not like my weight is really any kind of a secret. If you know me, you’ve seen me and can tell for yourself. But there’s something about the number, the exact number out there that made a difference.

Weight is a touchy subject. Almost everyone wants to lose a little weight. We use euphemisms like, “I want to be healthier” and “I just want to feel better.” I’ve used both of these as code for, “I want to lose weight” without trying to sound threatening to others or to myself. I think it is great NOT to focus on a specific number, but actual goals do drive progress.

In the fairly recent Jenny Craig campaign, Queen Latifah was featured for encouraging others to lead a healthy lifestyle. The ads did not focus on the amount of her weight loss, only that she was “getting healthier.” This approach was in an effort to let people know that they can do it, too, and that diets aren’t just for skinny girls, and getting healthier won’t alienate you from your friends.

While getting healthier is so very important, feeling like you belong is equally so. If you decide to make a change, however small, in your lifestyle, your friends and family are going to notice. The reactions may not always be positive. Queen Latifah’s Jenny Craig campaign prompted me to do a little reading.

Friends and family can react negatively to a “healthier you.” They can be jealous, feel left out or feel scared that there are new, unspoken expectations of weight loss or healthier living for them. It is important to be honest and have open conversations with anyone close to you when you sense the vibes between you have changed.

Let’s face it – weight is currency. It’s a bigger deal than we want it to be. I read another blog recently that was published back in January. The blogger was talking about Oprah and her weight struggle: “Now that Oprah has come out about her struggle with weight, (I am glad she is going to get her audience back, I think she was alienating herself by getting a bit too thin; the rich part we can handle)...”

“Alienating herself by getting a bit too thin?” I don’t remember Oprah looking anorexic recently. It’s a little hard to digest what the blogger is saying if I’m honest with myself. She’s saying that as a whole, people are going to be less jealous of someone who has zillions of dollars and the freedom that comes with that than of someone who may look a little better in jeans than he/she did a few months ago.


Let’s all be honest with each other and “get healthy” TOGETHER.

                                                                                                                                                      Kristen Manes 


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Choose a weight-loss diet or just eat more fruits and vegetables

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Most weight-loss diets fall under a few identifiable categories. Some diets, though, are restrictive and difficult to categorize. But in the recent past, many fall in one of the following four categories – high-fat, low-carbohydrate; moderate-fat; low-fat; and very low-fat.

High-fat, low-carbohydrate diets

These diets tend to be low in nutrients because most of the foods with a variety of nutrients are excluded: fruits, vegetables and grains. Fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that act as anti-oxidant (vitamin C, E and A) and non-nutritive anti-oxidants (phytochemicals). Some of the important non-nutritive phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables excluded in these diets are called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins protect us against oxidative damage caused by free radicals created from sun damage, smoking, drugs and radiation. These diets also tend to be too high in fat and cholesterol. High level of circulating fats can be oxidized when there is an inadequate level of protective anti-oxidants.

Moderate-fat diets

Many of the most sensible diets that result in steady weight loss, if correctly followed, fall in this category. Diets such as the Dash Diet have been proven to reduce high blood pressure. Weight Watchers also has resulted in steady weight loss and can be adopted for a lifetime. These diets are easy to follow because they contain normal foods and encourage healthy eating habits. The American Diabetic Association Exchange Diet is one of the foundation diets used by diabetics to control carbohydrate and fat intake without being excessively restrictive. These diets are also balanced in nutrients and anti-oxidants.

Low-fat and very low-fat diets

The low-fat and very low-fat diets can result in rapid weight loss, if followed correctly. But they can be difficult to follow because they severely restrict common foods. The diets can be too limiting in fat and can result in inadequate intake of essential fatty acids, fat soluble vitamins and anti-oxidants. The very low-fat diets restrict foods from the meat group, a source of minerals such as iron and zinc, and could result in deficiencies if followed for a long time.

Instead of adopting a diet that may not be healthy, think about increasing fresh fruit and vegetable intake and reducing portion sizes of foods you are currently eating. Most prepared foods and restaurant meals are larger than a serving size. Keep that in mind next time you order and ask for a to-go box before you take your first bite. Spring is here, and this is the time to enjoy fresh produce and reduce fried foods. Happy Spring!

Heli Roy 

5/9/2009 12:01:28 AM
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