Friday, May 9, 2008

No Magic Pill

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Here’s what I’ve learned about nutrition and weight:

  • A diet drink does not cancel the calories when consumed with four donuts.
  • Eating six cookies throughout the day does not mean fewer calories than when you eat six at one setting.
  • Regardless of your metabolism, 5,000 calories a day for an average person is too many.
  • Few of us are big-boned, so if the scales say you are overweight, deal with it.
  • When someone tells you that you carry your weight nicely, they really mean that you look fat.
  • The only way to lose weight is to consume fewer calories.

We play games with ourselves. When I step on the scales and it says that I have gained weight, then I have been eating more calories than I burned off in exercise. There is no magic pill. No magic anything. As my doctor told me – get on the treadmill and do it for the rest of your life. This morning when I left the house early to go exercise and thought about staying home for a cup of coffee before getting ready for work, these thoughts pushed me out the door: You are not big-boned with slow metabolism. Go exercise and come back and eat a healthy, sensible breakfast and get to work. The lifestyle change thing is really very simple.

So if you are like me, stop playing of games with yourself and get busy by exercising frequently, making smarter nutritional choices, and plan on doing that for the rest of your life.

You’ll enjoy Monday’s guest blog. Have a great weekend and get out and exercise.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

No matter how well motivated you are, your best intentions to eat healthy and follow your exercise routine still may be thwarted by too many social events and too little free time to exercise. The LSU AgCenter Smart Portions Healthy Weight Program recommends a combination of healthy eating and physical activity to promote long-term weight control success and suggests these steps to help achieve a healthy weight:

Forget the fads. There are no diets, foods or pills that magically burn fat. Some supplements and herbal products can be dangerous – and even deadly – for some people.

Build a healthy base with MyPyramid. Let MyPyramid be your guide to eating right. Eat recommended amounts of grains, especially whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nonfat milk, and lean meat, fish and beans.

Downsize your portion sizes. Learn how to judge portion sizes using MyPyramid as a guide. Stay away from super-sized and combo meals. Eat half of your restaurant meals – and take the rest home for an easy lunch or dinner tomorrow.

Let your appetite be your guide. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. Learn to tell the difference between hunger and other feelings, such as boredom, loneliness, fear, anxiety and pain. Don’t try to fix feelings with food.

Snack smart and drink plenty of fluids. Snacks and drinks can fill your body with extra, empty calories. Skip the cold drink and candy machines – and refuel and rehydrate with yogurt, string cheese, nuts, veggies, fruit, juice and water.

Enjoy all foods, just don’t overdo. Eat a variety of foods in moderation. Most people won’t stay on a restrictive diet that takes away favorite foods. Eating for a healthy weight means a realistic, flexible eating style – that allows you to enjoy a lifetime of delicious nutrition.

The Smart Portions Healthy Weight Program provides current, research-based information and recommendations to help Louisiana citizens achieve and maintain a healthy weight by setting realistic goals for better health and learning to balance the food they eat with appropriate physical activity.

Beth Reames


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Don’t Fall Off the Wagon

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It is so easy to get bored with following a nutrition plan and exercise schedule, at least it is for me. Some days you want to say, is it worth it? I do. Things pile up at work, things pop up at home and in families, and you feel that need for comfort food and time off from the routine. This is the real struggle. Anyone can start a lifestyle change, but many fail to follow through and institutionalize the lifestyle plan over the long haul.

I find that staying focused on making real change is the most challenging. If I constantly have goals and involve other in my changes, it seems to help me maintain the situation. I have a group that I walk with once every week. We do not miss. We alternate between the levee and university lakes. It is part exercise and part social. We walk for 55-60 minutes at a brisk pace. We joke about having ice cream afterwards if we keep the pace strong and beat the last week’s time. Finding a workout partner helps you keep on track. I once read that the most difficult step in exercising is the first one out the door. Having someone to meet and share your workout with sure helps.

I find that same approach to eating is helpful. If you are eating in an environment where others around you are not making smart choices, it is easy to fall off the wagon. The more people in your support group that share your goals for a lifestyle change, the easier it is to stay the course. But it’s still up to you. You have to push through and keep committed to your smart choices.

Bill Richardson


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

These Shoes Were Made for Walking

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People are starting to pay attention to this blog. People stop me to say they read the blog and are trying to start their own wellness program. We have hundreds of AgCenter personnel who have signed up for what we call the chancellor’s challenge. The war on fat is under way, and the army is growing. We can win the battle of the bulge.

Mark your calendar. On Sept. 13, 2008, we will have the first chancellor’s challenge walk before the LSU football victory over North Texas. We will celebrate the success of the wellness program and celebrate the 100th anniversary of 4-H in Louisiana. Details of the walk are being developed. Meanwhile, get your walking shoes laced up and start practicing. You have four months to get your act together. We will start off at a 15-minute mile per hour pace and immediately taper off so that all walkers can participate in this joint celebration. We will have tee shirts and all that stuff. Bring your kids, strollers, your dog, your neighbors, etc.

I had a wonderful 50-minute treadmill walk this morning. Exercise just makes you feel better. I had a five-minute warm-up and a five-minute cool-down, but a full 40 minutes at level 4 or better. Exercise has to be a cornerstone in your wellness program. Nutrition alone is only part of the story.

Okay, map out your walking program and plan to peek on Saturday morning, Sept. 13.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

Walking is a great way to increase physical activity. It's easy to do, doesn't require expensive equipment (except good shoes) and can be done year-round. Keep these points in mind when you begin any type of exercise program:

  • Build up your strength gradually.
  • If you’re a man over 40 or a woman over 50, or have health problems at any age, consult your doctor before starting an exercise program.
  • Exercise moderately and routinely.
  • Increase exercise gradually.
  • Warm up before and cool down after exercise.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after.
  • If you stop exercising because of illness, start back slowly.
  • Choose an exercise you enjoy, and get started.

Check out this information on walking from the LSU AgCenter's Smart Portions healthy weight program.

Beth Reames


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Let’s Go Nuts

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As I have reported to you earlier in this blog, I snack on almonds mid morning and mid afternoon to reduce my hunger cravings and serve as a good source of fiber. But have you noticed the price of almonds lately? They’ve gone up. Given the increased price, I wanted to make sure they are worth it and found the following.

In an article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was stated that partial replacement of saturated fatty acids with almonds or walnuts lowers total plasma cholesterol and low density lipoprotein cholesterol. Several of the studies cited in the article reported that use of almonds as a regular part of the diet can reduce total cholesterol. The studies used varying amounts of almonds in a per day nutrition plan. Could the drop I had in total cholesterol been influenced by consumption of almonds? Looks like it could be possible. Despite the price, I’ll continue to eat them but may not consume as many.

I like the lightly salted almonds best and have been reading the labels to make sure that I control my salt intake. As I mentioned in past blogs, I’m a salt snacker rather than a sweet snacker. I also like the consistency and substance of almonds. It feels like I am eating something. But, as noted, I must watch the total calories and the salt.

Today is an exercise day and the weather is beautiful. Get out and move around!

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

The almond is one of the oldest and most widely grown of all of the world's nut crops. Originally, almonds came from Central Asia, but those that we see in the grocery store today most likely are grown in the fertile fields of California.

We tend generally to stay away from eating too many nuts because they are high in fat and are very energy dense. One ounce of almonds (28 grams) has 160 calories, of which 120 calories come from fat.

Yet, almonds are high in fiber, protein, folic acid, vitamin E, iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, phosphorus and phytochemicals. Additionally, almonds are high in monounsaturated fats, which protect against heart disease by lowering low density lipoprotein (LDL) or the "bad" cholesterol and increasing high density lipoprotein (HDL) or the "good" cholesterol.

Researchers from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center conducted two studies using almonds in the diets of healthy and diabetic volunteers.

In study 1, normal healthy subjects ate a diet supplemented with 100 grams (about 3 ounces) of almonds a day for four weeks. There was a significant increase in body weight after four weeks of consuming almonds. At the same time, however, there was a significant drop in total, LDL and HDL cholesterol. Studies done elsewhere have shown reduction in total cholesterol even with lower daily intake of almonds. Even a handful of almonds consumed regularly has shown a reduction in total cholesterol.

In study 2, type-2 diabetic subjects consumed four different diets in random order. The four diets were a high-fat diet, a low-fat diet, a high-fat diet high in almonds and a low-fat diet high in almonds.

The diets that included almonds had 10 percent of the total fat contributed by almonds. There was a significant difference in cholesterol because of total fat intake in the diet. A diet higher in fat resulted in lower total cholesterol level, and the lowest cholesterol level was found with the high fat diet supplemented with almonds.

The reduction in cholesterol level was greater than expected. This could be attributed to the fiber, vitamin E and phytosterol content of almonds. Trigylceride levels were significantly higher on the low-fat diets. The diets had no effect on glucose or insulin levels in the diabetic subjects.

These studies show that addition of almonds to the diet of healthy individuals can have a positive effect on blood lipid levels. Although diabetic individuals need to be careful of fat and carbohydrate intakes, nuts are safe to consume by diabetics since there were no harmful effects on insulin or glucose levels observed in these studies.

In September 2003, the Food and Drug Administration approved the following statement to be used for nuts: "Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease."

Types of nuts eligible for this claim are restricted to almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachio nuts and walnuts. You can include toasted or plain almonds in salads, casseroles and baked products. The key is moderation. Including small amount of nuts as part of a regular diet will give you the heart-healthy benefits that have been found through research.

Heli Roy


Monday, May 5, 2008

Controlling the Fork

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Maybe it’s that it’s Monday morning. And the weather has been and continues to be beautiful. And my bathroom scales are stuck and can’t seem to get below 220. New bathroom scales? No, that only shifts the blame. My exercise program has been the most consistent since I started it. I am right on with the 4-4-4 plan – four times a week, 40 minutes at level 4 on the treadmill. But the weight loss has stagnated, which leads me to my nemesis – the food log. So for this week I will dedicate myself (again) to keeping a food log of precisely what I am consuming. And, yes, I will count the ice cream, as cruel as that seems.

I was sent an interesting article about what if we weren’t fat. If we were not fat, think of the money we would save on gas, the author claims. Airlines might increase their profits, and some doctors might actually be out of work. If you added up the savings on health, food, efficiencies, you could give every household $4,200, the author claims. Statistics indicate that 66 percent of adults are overweight, 33 percent are obese, and 5 percent are morbidly obese (over 100 pounds overweight). Can you believe that two-thirds of us are overweight? That is a staggering number of people, and we are supposed to be an educated society.

I’m determined to not be one of the two-thirds. And now that I have my exercise program clicking, I must deal with the fork. Obviously, I’m using it too much. Although I am making smarter choices about what I eat, I am still consuming too many calories.

My thoughts:

  • It is 2,200 calories per day, based on making smart choices.
  • To get out of the overweight category, I have to get my body fat below 25 percent.
  • My goal is reachable and do-able – in the near future.

If you are reading this and one of the two-thirds, join me and let’s make a difference.

Bill Richardson

 Nutritionist's Response

One of the things surprising to many people is how much or how many calories they actually consume throughout the day. All the nibbling throughout the day contributes to your overall caloric intake; therefore, writing down everything you eat in a food journal can really come in handy. Use of the food journal allows you to see what you are consuming. Don’t worry. The journal itself is not judgmental, but it may be an eye-opening experience to you. Start journaling today. It will help you determine if you are consuming too many or too little calories throughout the day. View the Food Tracking Worksheet.

Denise Holston

2/10/2009 1:16:30 AM
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