3/31/08- 4/04/08


Friday, April 04, 2008

Progress Is Best Reward

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The DXA machine just doesn’t lie. The results are in for this month. Weight: down 1.6 pounds. Waist measurement: down .5 inches. Percent body fat: up 0.1%. Overall, not too bad. When I look back over the history of the month, I feel good about the progress, although small. My travel schedule was horrendous. I drove 2,500 miles and was on the road several days and late into the evening. That meant that a routine for the nutrition planning was challenged. The exercise part was good. I got in 16 workouts in four weeks, which is the average I was shooting for. I took the blood test yesterday and will have those results for Monday.

Since inception I have lost 21.2 pounds. Of that weight I have lost 13.2 pounds of fat tissue and 5.7 pounds of lean mass. The body fat percentage I am striving for is around 25 percent or less. That clinically moves me out of the overweight range. It appears that in addition to adherence to the nutrition plan, inclusion of some weight training to build lean mass helps. Losing four pounds in April, or about a pound per week, would get me below 220, which is also one of my goals.

The recommendations found on the AgCenter’s Web site and from the USDA, when followed, seem to work. The blood chemistry to date has attested to the changes. My total cholesterol has dropped dramatically. We will see Monday if that holds true.

These simple recommendations will lead you and me to a healthier lifestyle: Exercise four or more times a week, follow a healthy eating plan, get ample sleep and rest, and watch portion size.

I have another guest blogger on Monday. Have a great weekend.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

Actually, the DXA results have been consistently positive. You have to remember that the weight you’re losing is all fat mass. And, since you weigh less now, your absolute values for lean-tissue mass are decreasing but the relative values (i.e., percent of total mass) are increasing! The more relative lean-tissue you have, the more metabolically active you are.

So just remember, focus on the relative amounts of fat and lean, rather than looking at the absolute values. You’re doing great! Here’s a chart of your progress thus far:

Fat mass (lbs.)

Lean-tissue mass (lbs.)


mass (lbs.)







Month 2






Month 3






Month 4






Month 5






Month 6






Month 7






Michael Zanovec


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Low-calorie Diets Cost More

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Today’s blog is from a press release distributed by the Cooperative State Research, Education & Extension Service (CSREES), which is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It’s about how the cost of food works to disfavor weight loss, especially among the poor. This is certainly a dilemma, and I welcome your comments. Following is the press release:

Recent studies show that the cost of high-calorie foods are less likely to be affected by inflation and, on average, cost less than low-calorie foods. With obesity plaguing the United States, this trend may hinder low-income families from adopting a low-calorie diet. Funding from USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) enabled researchers at the University of Washington to examine the price trends of different food choices.

Adam Drewnowski, director of the Center for Public Health and Nutrition at the University of Washington, and colleagues checked the prices of 372 foods sold at local supermarkets in the Seattle area, comparing the prices with calorie density. High-calorie foods included items like peanut butter and granola, while the lowest-calorie foods were mostly fresh fruits and vegetables.

Defined this way, low-calorie foods tend to be rich in nutrients like vitamins and minerals. Conversely, high-calorie foods are rich in calories, but tend to be low in nutrients. The study found that lower-calorie foods cost more per calorie, while more calorie-dense foods showed a lower cost per calorie. Bargain shoppers get a better deal purchasing high-calorie foods rather than low-calorie foods. This study then explored the effect of inflation on the lower versus higher-calorie foods.

The researchers found the price of calorie-dense food was less likely to rise as a result of inflation. During the two-year study, the price of high-calorie food decreased by 1.8 percent, whereas the price of low-calorie foods increased by 19.5 percent. Considering most bargain shoppers are trying to stretch their incomes as far as possible, the findings may help explain why the highest rates of obesity are among people in lower-income groups.

Based on a standard 2000-calorie diet, the researchers found a diet consisting primarily of calorie-dense foods costs $3.52 a day, but a diet consisting primarily of low-calorie food costs $36.32 a day. The average American eats a variety of foods each day, spending $7 a day.

"If you have $3 to feed yourself, your choices gravitate toward foods that give you the most calories per dollar,'' Drewnowski said. “Not only are the empty calories cheaper, but the healthy foods are becoming more expensive. Fresh vegetables and fruits are rapidly becoming luxury goods."

Those facts may better explain the popularity of calorie-dense foods in the food selection patterns among groups with limited economic resources. Nutrition education programs can address this challenge and provide additional help for planning healthy meals.

For more information, visit www.csrees.usda.gov.

Bill Richardson


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

No Instant Gratification

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I found myself starting to play those old short-term games relative to nutrition. You know the kind – I need to take off a few pounds before we go to the beach. I need to take off a few pounds before the reunion. We as humans want our instant gratification. I’ll get after it for a few days and expect to have solved the problem. That is why so many diets just don’t work. Diets end. Lifestyle changes don’t. What do you do after the diet ends? With a lifestyle change it never ends so you are not faced with that choice. Rather than playing the short-term games, you need to think and act long-term.

If you exercised seriously for a year and got in the best shape of your life, would you just say I’ve arrived and stop exercising? Would you let all that good work go to waste in a few weeks? No. We get in shape and expect to stay in shape. Same way with nutrition. You change your lifestyle to eat better and adjust your weight accordingly. You don’t just wake up some morning and say, “Well, that job is finished.” You have to realize that once you start the journey, it never ends.

Would a world-class musician stop practicing because he mastered his musical instrument? Would an artist stop improving her work just because she became accomplished as an artist?

Long-term lifestyle change is the one thought I hope you get out of all the ramblings in this blog.

Top 10 Nutrition Fact No. 8: Don’t fall prey to food myths and misinformation that may harm rather than benefit your health.

Changing a lifestyle isn’t easy. If so, everyone would be doing it. I struggle daily with the changes but will continue to overcome each challenge and continue the journey.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

The National Weight Control Registry is a registry of people who have lost more than 66 pounds and have maintained the weight loss for more than five years. The individuals who have maintained the weight loss have modified both their food intake and physical activity habits. On average, the members of the registry report expend about 2,600 calories a week in physical activity. That would equal a 200-pound person walking on the treadmill for six hours a week at 4 miles/hour. For different weight and times see below:

Walking speed

Calories expended in one hour by a 160 pound person

Hours required to expend 2600 kcal a week on exercise

Calories expended in one hour by a 200 pound person

Hours required to expend 2600 kcal a week on exercise

3 miles/hour





4 miles/hour





As you can see, these individuals, who are members of the Weight Control Registry, are active. Physical activity has become a big part of their lifestyle, and 94 percent increased their physical activity. This activity helps them maintain their average weight loss of more than 66 pounds. A majority (98 percent) of them also have modified their food intake.

Most report continuing to maintain a low-calorie, low-fat diet and doing high levels of activity. A majority (78 percent) also report they eat breakfast every day. Other significant findings are:

  • 75 percent weigh themselves at least once a week.
  • 62 percent watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.
  • 90 percent exercise, on average, about one hour per day.

As you can see, both increased physical activity and changes in eating habits have become part of their lifestyle for them to maintain their weight loss. Think about starting on the path to wellness by moving more. This is the right time to make smart choices about eating and exercise.

Heli Roy


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Nutrition Versus Exercise

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No fooling! I was recently asked which do I attribute the most to, nutrition or exercise, for my weight loss. My experience is as follows. In October, when I was focusing on the nutrition plan of 2,200 calories and exercising four times a week, I lost 12 pounds and had remarkable changes in blood chemistry. The experience for November was similar but without the dramatic weight loss. In March, the month just concluded, I challenged myself to get in at least four workouts per week, and I am proud to say that I did just that – even with a horrible travel schedule. However, I was not committed to the nutrition plan. In fact, when I weigh in on Thursday, I expect to have gained a little, even though I had my best month for exercise. On the other hand, eating less without exercise will help you lose weight, but you reach a point where your weight stabilizes. And this is discouraging because you can’t seem to lose another pound.

The answer is you need both and as noted earlier in this blog, think long-term. I am not worried by a temporary weight gain because I am committed to a long-term lifestyle change. I know that there will be challenges, and at times I will not be as perfect (who is?) as I want to be. But I will stay the course.

For April, I want to maintain the level of exercise, incorporate some light weight training and carefully follow the nutrition plan. You can lull yourself into thinking that by exercising a lot, you don’t have to pay as much attention to your eating habits. That just doesn’t work for me, and I bet not for many of you either.

I’ll have all the baseline data ready for analysis on Monday. In the meantime, however, it’s a review of nutrition and staying the course with the exercise.

Top Nutrition Fact No. 7: Prepare, handle and store food properly to keep you and your family safe from food-borne illnesses.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

The chancellor is correct when he states that we need to consider both nutrition and exercise to stay healthy and to maintain a healthy weight. We can lose a lot of weight and become slim by diet alone. But without exercise are we really healthy? Research shows that even lean people can have muscle atrophy and chronic diseases as they age if they do not exercise. Because exercise is such an important component of staying healthy, the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that we get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. The recommendations include:

Engage in regular physical activity and reduce sedentary activities to promote health, psychological well-being and a healthy body weight.

  • To reduce the risk of chronic disease in adulthood engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, above usual activity, at work or home on most days of the week.
  • For most people, greater health benefits can be obtained by engaging in physical activity of more vigorous intensity or longer duration.
  • To help manage body weight and prevent gradual, unhealthy body weight gain in adulthood engage in 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity activity on most days of the week while not exceeding caloric intake requirements.
  • To sustain weight loss in adulthood participate in at least 60 to 90 minutes of daily moderate-intensity physical activity while not exceeding caloric intake requirements. Some people may need to consult with a healthcare provider before participating in this level of activity.

Achieve physical fitness by including cardiovascular conditioning, stretching exercises for flexibility, and resistance exercises or calisthenics for muscle strength and endurance.

Lean people are not excluded from physical activity. Engaging in physical activity tones our muscles and stimulates bone renewal. It helps retain a healthy cardiovascular system. And it regulates insulin and glucose levels.

It is important to maintain caloric intake at or below caloric expenditure to prevent weight gain. It is important to remember that if you want to lose weight, or you want to maintain weight loss, you must eat differently than you ate when you were gaining weight. This is where nutrition becomes important and portion sizes count. Choose more vegetables and fruits and whole grains and smaller portions. Learn to eyeball what portion sizes look like so you can eat anywhere without gaining weight. Remembering to eat based on MyPyramid can help in controlling portion sizes and including all food groups in the diet.

Heli Roy


Monday, March 31, 2008

Changing Lifestyles on TV – Guest Blog

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(Editor’s note: Several KTBS-TV in Shreveport staffers are publicly detailing their quest for a healthy lifestyle and got wind of Chancellor Richardson’s blog. Morning co-anchor Sonja Bailes writes today’s guest blog. Stories about nutrition, exercise and healthy recipes are posted on their Web site, www.ktbs.com.)

Why is it that when you consciously decide to eat healthier, exercise more and make better choices when it comes to your health that the temptation to do otherwise seems even greater?

I applaud Chancellor Richardson for publicly detailing his quest. We’re doing the same thing on our morning show on KTBS-TV in Shreveport.

While we all have different goals, our entire morning team is committed to making some lifestyle changes. But it’s sure been hard!

Just the other day, two extension agents from the LSU Ag Center were on the show making strawberry pie to promote 4-H’s strawberry sale. They even made a low-fat version. The kicker was they brought along the delicious Blue Bell “Celebrations” ice cream made especially to commemorate 4-H’s centennial year. One scoop wasn’t enough. I had two!

As if that wasn’t bad enough, I went home later and ate three “low-fat” chocolate chip cookies I’d made over the weekend. I was on sugar over-load and still wanted more. I’ve heard when you eat sweets, your body keeps craving them until you finally break down and basically detox yourself of sugar. Maybe your nutritionist could offer some insight.

Anyway, I’ve been back on track. I hope you all exercise better restraint than me – and, for that matter, I hope you all exercise!

Sonja Bailes, KTBS 3 News, Shreveport

Nutritionist’s Response

What Sonja describes above is what usually happens when people go on a diet. They see everything they are missing and develop cravings for things they can’t have when they might not had any cravings for that food before. Then they eat the food they are not supposed to eat, and guilt sets in. This can lead to a downward spiral. The difference in a lifestyle approach and a diet is that a lifestyle approach allows people to consume all foods in moderation, while making healthy choices most of the time. In a lifestyle approach, people choose a healthier food over not so healthy food. Most foods are healthy in their fresh form; it is the preparation method that can make a healthy food unhealthy. For example, potatoes are a nonfat, low-calorie food; however, most people think that potatoes contribute to obesity and won’t have any. But, it is the preparation method that makes them less healthy. Let’s take a look.


Total KCAL

Total Fat

Plain baked potato, 1 cup



Mashed potatoes with milk and butter, 1 cup



Potato wedges, seasoned, 1 cup



French Fries, medium



As you can see, potatoes are a nonfat, low-calorie food that can be included as part of a healthy diet. We should reduce the amount of fried foods we consume because with that, we consume a lot of fat without realizing it. Similarly, we prepare other healthy foods such as vegetables and fish and make them less healthy.

Think about making a lifestyle change. Adopt a healthy lifestyle in which all foods are allowable, but you choose to make healthy choices at each meal. That way you are less likely to develop cravings. Make smart choices.

Heli Roy

2/10/2009 1:16:34 AM
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