1/2/08 - 1/4/08

Chancellor's Challenge. Chancellor Bill Richardson has made the decision to change to a healthierlifestyle. Follow his daily accounts and remarks from nutritionists to help him stay on course.

January 4, 2008

Motivational Talk

 [ Post a comment ]

January is the time when we make those resolutions that history tells us many people don’t keep. I make them every year and find that over time I have had limited success. Still each year I write them down as I did this year. I’ll share a few of the ones that might interest you and how I intend to deal with them. First on my list is to always wear my seat belt. Second is to make the blog a tool to address obesity issues in our state. Three, set my target weight and get there. The other four resolutions deal with personal things. While writing the resolutions and in one of those reflective moods – and while talking with my soul mate – the question of what motivates people came up. What does motivate us? What motivates people to want to make lifestyle changes? What motivated me to start this blog? What motivates you?

Over the course of the past three months, several people have called or written responding to this blog. A lot of the contacts were from people who, because of their own motivation, had already gone through a lifestyle change. I plan to ask some of these folks to be guest bloggers and tell you their story. What motivated them to make life altering changes? How did they do it and how do they feel about the outcome. Furthermore, I hope to do some research and find out what really motivates us and how we might use this information to motivate people to make lifestyle changes, especially those involving nutrition and exercise.

In the meantime, I urge you to make your resolutions, goals for the year, or whatever you want to label them. Based on what I have read, write a list of a few (10 or less) of achievable resolutions. Ending world hunger might be a little too strong for one person to address and to be held accountable! Keep the written list in front of you and develop an action plan to address each resolution. Chart your progress in writing. I find that when I write things down, I have a better change of remembering and following through with the task.

I will have blood, weight and other vital data and will report on the progress after three months in the Monday blog. We are going to explore this motivation thing more in future blogs.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

Studies show that four out of five people who make New Year’s resolutions will break them, and a whopping third won’t even make it to the end of January. Two of the reasons people most often report for breaking their resolutions include having too much to do and lacking commitment to keep their resolutions.

Experts recommend setting specific achievable goals rather than broad and vague resolutions. Goals can be motivating, but they should be attainable. Setting unrealistic or extremely high goals can squelch your motivation.

For example, instead of resolving to lose weight this year, make a commitment to eat just 100 fewer calories a day. Many healthy weight plans suggest eating just 100 fewer calories a day, which can lead to about a one-pound weight loss per month and prevents gradual weight gain. Changes in your intake that equal 100 calories can be as simple as these:

  • Tuna packed in water rather than oil.
  • Tomato slices, lettuces leaves and pepper strips on a sandwich instead of mayonnaise.
  • Two cups of skim milk per day instead of two cups of whole milk.
  • A cup of low-fat, sugar-free yogurt instead of a doughnut.
  • A glass of ice water with lemon instead of a soft drink.

In addition to making small changes in food choices, make a habit of becoming more active. Physical activity offers many benefits including decreased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, joint problems, obesity and others. The Dietary Guidelines recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity to reduce disease risk and 60 minutes a day to prevent weight gain. For sustaining weight loss, at least 60 to 90 minutes a day of physical activity may be required. Examples include walking, gardening, raking or even dancing.

For more information on realistic goals and healthy eating, visit eatright.org.

Motivation refers to the reason or reasons for engaging in a particular behavior. Motivation is important but as previously stated in the Dec. 7, 2007 blog entry, "Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."

Most people know that eating healthfully and being physically active are important, but they haven't formed habits that will help them reach their goals. Resolve to make healthy eating and regular physical activity habits in 2008, and you'll be less likely to break them when temptation occurs.

Beth Reames


Dr. Richardson, I was inspired by the article in the Advocate about your program of weight control. It is the common sense approach that I hope to follow. Just thought I would let you know. 

Mike Durham


January 3, 2008

It's A Stretch

 [ Post a comment ]

While giving a blog update to a group of AgCenter faculty, I noted the need to add flexibility training to my exercise routine. Now that 2008 has arrived, I must make good on that promise.

Of course, a yoga class comes to mind:

  • I saw a signup sheet at a health club for a “power yoga” class. I wonder if the ability to touch your toes is a requirement for attendance.

  • A friend mentioned a class in Yoglates. This reminded me of a pledge I made to never take an exercise class with a name that I can not spell. I assume that Yoglates is a combination of yoga and Pilates.

Now I am in a quandary: Yoga, power yoga or Yoglates? I will keep you updated on how it goes.

I must plan and organize my time better to fit a class into my schedule. After spending most of my holiday break organizing the house, doing more planning was not an appealing idea.

It is amazing how much stuff you can accumulate. How many of those funny looking cheese knives do two people really need? A great way relieve the clutter is to give items to an agency that helps the less fortunate.

Thanks to my nutrition and exercise program, I was able to get rid of some clothes. That felt real good!

Finally, to make sure January gets off to a good start, I will give the specialists a three-day food log covering Jan. 2, 3 and 4. We can then analyze the nutrition plan and make any necessary modifications. We will do the same thing with the exercise log later in the month.

As you begin your program for 2008, remember to be patient and think long term. Short-term weight loss programs are not highly successful. What I am trying to accomplish is a long-term change in my lifestyle.

Tomorrow, we will talk about some goals for 2008. I will also share a few of my resolutions.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

Our muscles, tendons and ligaments lose flexibility as we age. Therefore, it is important to increase the time we stretch. Just like weight training, we are never too old to begin flexibility training.

Flexibility and weight training contribute to balance and bone strength. One of the reasons the elderly fall is because they lose their sense of balance due to weak muscles. Injuries causes by falls contribute to increased sedentary behaviors and can lead to a downward spiral. Women in particular could benefit from mild strength and flexibility training as they age to help build bones.

As you begin your exercise program, include some mild stretches prior to walking or other cardio workouts. This helps prevent injuries. After the workout, stretch your muscles while they are still warm to get the maximum stretch and to increase your flexibility. Avoid bouncy movements; instead, hold the stretch for 10 seconds.

Yoga not only improves flexibility, but it also works the muscles by holding a tension in a particular position for a short period of time. Proper breathing improves results.

Our autonomic nervous system has two branches: The sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. Regular exercise stimulates the sympathetic branch, which results in an increased heart rate, faster breathing, flushed feeling and quick muscle movements. Yoga stimulates the parasympathetic branch, which results in reduced heart rate, reduced respiration and reduced tension. The regulated breathing in yoga reduces stress hormones, an important component of the parasympathetic effects.

Power yoga is very demanding form, and thus not recommended for beginners. The program goes through an intense series of flowing poses with controlled breathing. Basic knowledge of yoga poses, breathing techniques is required. Also, people who practice power yoga are already very fit.

Pilates is a form of exercise that builds the core muscles. The core muscles are those closest to the spine and the deep abdominal muscles. Small, controlled movements strengthen and elongate joints and muscles. Like yoga, the benefits of Pilates are heightened by breathing. Pilates is preferred by dancers because it increases strength without adding bulk, improves balance and facilitates graceful movements. It is low impact and can be done by anyone.

Read Pennington Nutrition Series: Exercise and Weight Loss.
Read Smart Choices: Eating and Exercising for Good Health.
Read Smart Choices: Walking.

Heil Roy


January 2, 2008

Damage Control

 [ Post a comment ]

Did you survive the annual food fest commonly referred to as The Holidays? After all the food, adult refreshments and social commitments, returning to work does not seem so bad. But can we survive the bombardment of advertisements for all those weight loss plans and programs?

As I entered the Christmas holiday, I was more confident than ever in the principles espoused by this blog. To convert to a healthy lifestyle, you have to:

  • make smart choices.
  • control your portion size.
  • reduce or control total calorie intake.
  • exercise.

Being human, I did not always make the best choice. My biggest challenge came when the little chocolate fairy paid me a visit. It sat on my left shoulder and whispered, “You can eat just one of those chocolate turtles. Nobody will ever know.“ Of course, you can’t eat one. The actual number I ate will remain a mystery.

Despite that setback, I did OK. I may have actually lost a pound or two! During previous years, January was a time to work on shedding Christmas fat.

If you are reading this and considering joining the challenge, let me briefly outline what I am doing.

  • Four workouts a week, each equivalent to a 40 minute walk on the treadmill at level 4 (15-minute miles). We call this the 4-4-4 program.

  • A nutritional plan with weight loss as one of the goals -- 2,200 calories a day.

Remember, if you are thinking about starting an exercise program, see your doctor first.

Tomorrow, I will talk about the importance of organization, planning and muscle flexibility. On Monday, I will give you a three-month update on my progress.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

Many people have difficulty staying on track during the holidays. As a result, many people want to make New Year’s resolutions to get fit, lose weight, and eat better. Unfortunately, only one quarter of these resolutions stick beyond two weeks.

Why, you ask?  We often jump in without a goal or plan of action. Ask yourself, “What do I want to achieve and how and I going to do it?” Make sure your plan includes small, realistic goals that will keep you motivated. As you achieve each goal, make new ones that build upon the original goals. For example, if the ultimate goal is to lose 50 pounds, start off with a goal of losing one pound per week or exercising two times per week. After you have set your goals and mapped out your plan of action, TELL EVERYONE. Your loved ones can provide support throughout the process.

A few more tips:

  • If you fall off the bandwagon, view it as a learning experience and try again.

  • If you do fall short of some of your goals, determine why it happened and make changes to your plan of action as necessary. Perhaps you have tried to accomplish too much, too soon. Even the most disciplined individuals make mistakes, but this does not mean that you give up. As we frequently mention in this blog—KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE PRIZE!

  • Small personal rewards can keep you on track. For example, you can reward yourself with a new article of clothing for reaching monthly goals. There is nothing better than buying a smaller size in your favorite jeans.
Need more information? Check out the LSU AgCenter's Smart Choices program for an array of resources.

Denise Holston

2/10/2009 1:16:34 AM
Rate This Article:

Have a question or comment about the information on this page?

Innovate . Educate . Improve Lives

The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture