Friday, June 13, 2008

Eat Right, Move More

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Remember, tomorrow is national Get Outdoors Day. If you are going to get outdoors, get some exercise. I had a great hour-long walk yesterday. The temperature was not as high after the afternoon rain, although it was humid. Good day to walk briskly and sweat. The weather was so good that I even took Whissie for a walk after my walk. He is building up his endurance and walked briskly for a couple of blocks. We are going to get you some pictures of Whissie next week. I will need to scrub him down first.

One common thread that I notice as I read about healthy lifestyles is the need for exercise. People agree and disagree about what to eat, and the scientific and popular literature is filled with all kinds of advice about when to eat it and how much to eat. I am a runner turned walker because of less stress on my knees and other joints. I try to follow the 4-4-4 plan or a close equivalent. Now that the weather is good I like getting outdoors more than indoors on the treadmill. I still jump on the treadmill and make sure that I exercise at close to a 15-minute-per-mile pace. Three and a half miles to four miles per hour is my outdoors goal. If you are just thinking about starting an exercise program, go see your doc. Then choose a form of exercise that best suits your lifestyle. Walking four to five times per week is what suits me best.

I gave our exercise guy the exercise logs for the past three months. (Of course, I gave him the three best months). I am keeping a five day or more food log including a weekend so that we can get a good picture of my exercise and food habits. We’ll see what the specialist says.

Remember, get outdoors tomorrow. And, if you’re driving in my neighborhood, drive slowly because Whissie and I might be out there communing with nature.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

In many successful weight loss studies, lifestyle approach to eating and exercise was used as an intervention. In these studies the subjects were instructed to consume a balanced diet that had plenty of fresh fruits and
vegetables, whole grains and dairy products. They were also encouraged to gradually increase their exercise (typically by walking) to four to five sessions per week for 30 to 40 minutes per session.

Many people find that keeping a record helps them to keep moving. You can record your food intake and physical activity in a log. You can also use books and videos as motivators such as On Your Way to Fitness, 28-page guide from former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Everett Koop on healthy weight and physical fitness that describes the basics of healthy eating and activity habits. There are many books on exercise in your local library if you need help to get started.

Studies show that obesity is inversely associated with physical activity. Men who exercised less than once a week were two times more likely to gain 10 pounds or more in five years versus those that exercised three times a week or more. Women were 1.6 times more likely to gain 10 pounds or more if they exercised less than once a week.

Go to this guide on walking from the LSU AgCenter.

Remember, you don't have to get all the exercise in at once. You can break it into several 10-minute sessions a day to fit your schedule. If you get bored with walking, try swimming, bicycling, gardening, or many other outdoor activities to stay physically active.

Heli Roy


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Battle Belly Fat

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The Wall Street Journal had an article yesterday entitled “The War on Obesity Targets Toddlers.” The article stated that to head off weight problems, pediatricians are treating children as young as 2. Keep in mind that children’s nutritional needs differ from adults and that changes in eating habits should be made for the whole family not just one child. The article was written by Shirley Wang, and you might want to read it.

We big kids don’t have baby fat, but we do battle belly fat. In Men’s Health an interesting research article was recently reported. Two groups of overweight dieters were compared. One group used whole-grain wheat products for bread and pasta, while the other group didn’t. Both groups ate the same number of calories. Both groups lost about 10 pounds, but the whole-grain group had twice as much abdominal fat. This is just one study, but worth noting. We do need to eat more whole grains and fewer refined food products.

We may have swapped our baby fat for belly fat, but the battle rages on. I find myself including more whole grains in the diet and when I stick to this regime, I do see weight, loss assuming I don’t sub extra calories somewhere else. The approach we are documenting in this blog is holistic lifestyle changing and long-term. Eating whole-wheat products for a couple of days and then going back to your old eating habits just will not cut it. Make the smart choice and keep on making them.

But you still gotta exercise. Log on tomorrow!

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

Numerous studies have shown that a high accumulation of abdominal fat is associated with metabolic complications and with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, the metabolic syndrome and other metabolic disturbances. Some studies have suggested that abdominal fat is the major determinant of insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome.

The metabolic syndrome is made up of a constellation of risk factors that includes high blood pressure, high waist circumference, low HDL cholesterol, and high triglyceride and fasting plasma glucose levels. Nearly 24 percent of the U.S. population has the metabolic syndrome. The high prevalence of the metabolic syndrome has significant public health implications because of the twofold increased risk of prevalent coronary heart disease, three- to fourfold increased risk of mortality because of coronary heart disease, and a sixfold risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Leading health authorities recommend lifestyle modification consisting of exercise and caloric restriction for treatment and prevention of the metabolic syndrome. Lifestyle modification has been shown to be effective in reducing high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure and increasing waist circumference. Findings suggest that interventions consisting of exercise and caloric restriction are associated with improvement in all components of the metabolic syndrome, although the magnitude of this effect varies from one individual to another.

What can you do?

  • Engage in any kind of aerobic activity. Aerobic activity (such as brisk walking) will burn fat, which will reduce fat around the waist. It will also result in reduced blood pressure that is measurable after the exercise bout, and it lasts for several hours. Blood sugar and insulin levels also respond to an exercise session with measurable effects, which also last for hours after the bout.
  • Consume more whole grains and other foods with fiber. Whole grains and dietary fiber can help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, and this can result in reduced abdominal fat and smaller waist circumference.
  • Reduce your intake of total calories. If caloric intake is reduced, it can help lower blood lipids, triglycerides, blood sugar and insulin levels.
  • Avoid refined foods. Refined foods are high in fat, sugar, sodium and lack fiber. Excess consumption of refined foods has been linked to overweight and obesity, hypertension and other chronic diseases.
  • Switch from sweetened beverages to water. Sweetened beverages can add calories that are not recognized by our bodies and can contribute to overeating. Water is noncaloric; it has no sodium; and it helps keep our metabolism going.

Heli Roy


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Clean Your Smaller Plate

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“You can’t get up from the table until you clean your plate.” I heard that admonition often as I was growing up. Then I would look down and see those green things (green peas or green beans) or, heaven forbid, Brussels sprouts on that plate. I tried feeding them to the dog (he didn’t like them either), hiding them in the plants and sometimes sneaking them into my pocket to be tossed later. Now the problems with cleaning one’s plate have taken on a different dimension.

For one thing our plates are bigger, which means that we can get more on the plate. As an adult, I have the authority to put any and everything on my plate. I also have the authority to pig out at a salad bar. I think I mentioned in an earlier blog the person who used the vegetables at the salad bar to build a dam around the plate so he could put more stuff, the fattening stuff, and extra dressing on the plate. “But, I only ate a salad.” Yeah, a 5,000 calorie one.

For those of us with a clean-the-plate mentality, we could start by placing smaller portions on the plate and making smarter choices about the types of things we put on the plate. Maybe get a smaller plate? I know that I have, and I bet some of you have too, piled stuff on my plate like it was going to be my last meal. And, once we realized that we had too much stuff on the plate, our I’d-better-eat-it thought overrides the fact that we are no longer hungry. We also rationalize by not wanting to waste food (remember the starving children in China?). Then we sit back and moan that we ate too much. None of you may be guilty of such. But, I must confess that I am.

If you must clean your plate, think about that as you fill your plate. How much and what are the smart choices to make? If you watch the portion size, you meet your caloric needs and maintain a healthy mental framework by having cleaned your plate. That way you can get up from the table without guilt. If you are the type of person who needs guilt, have a skinny cow ice cream sandwich after dinner, which will allow you to feel guilty for only 140 calories.

It won’t go away, and I can’t hide it – belly fat. How then do we get rid of it? Log on tomorrow.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

A study, “Patterns and Trends in Food Portion Sizes,1977-1998,” by Samara Joy Nielsen and Barry M. Popkin from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill shows that portion sizes have indeed increased in the past 20 years. Their findings indicate that portion sizes of all foods have increased except pizza. Soft drink sizes went from 13.1 fluid ounces to 19.9 fluid ounces, salty snacks from 1.0 to 1.6 ounces, and cheeseburgers from 5.8 to 7.3 ounces. Total energy intake from meals eaten at home decreased while at the same time energy intake from meals eaten in restaurants increased. The largest portion sizes for most foods were found at fast food establishments, including salty snacks, soft drinks, fruit drinks, French fries and Mexican food.

For desserts, hamburgers and cheeseburgers, the largest portion sizes were found at home. The size of the increases are substantial.

Because an added 10 calories per day of unexpended energy is equivalent to an extra pound of weight per year, it is easy to see the potential impact of large increases in portion sizes that ranged from 49 to 133 calories. What can you do? As the chancellor states, there are some things we can do. Limiting portion sizes at meals is the best way to combat overeating. The recommended portion sizes are as follows: a deck of cards for meat; a baseball for rice, cereal and pasta; a tennis ball for bread, rolls and potatoes; a checkbook for fish; and the palm of your hand for meats and chicken. It is also wise to use a smaller plate to serve yourself because we will take less food on a smaller plate. Also, drink mainly water. It is calorie-free.

Go to this MyPyramid worksheet. It will help you with meal planning.

Heli Roy


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Do the Math and Lose Weight

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Math was not one of my favorite nor best subjects as I went through school. But every now and then I read some statistics, and I really do understand the math. Following are two vignettes of nutritional information that pose some interesting mathematical thought.

First, if you ate a 12-inch Italian sausage meatball sub with the trimmings, you would consume about 1,400+ calories. To burn that off, you would have to paint your house for more than 200 minutes (between 3-4 hours for those of you mathematically challenged like me). Hardly seems worth it! Plus, you would have a bad case of heartburn while painting, which would make the time go even slower.

Second, we are an over consuming generation. As we have been advised to eat less fat, we simply added more sugar and have become fatter. The statistics show that during the period from 1971 to 2001, as we told people to eat less fat, carbohydrate consumption increased and so did the percentage of men overweight. Now we are approaching 70 percent of men overweight. Carbohydrate intake has risen from 55 percent to 65 percent of our diet.

We are just eating too much! I need about 2,800 calories to maintain my weight. To lose weight, I must back off 500-600 calories for a 2,200-calorie plan. That is the simple, mathematical part of the plan. The hard part is to follow the plan. When I do, I lose weight; when I don’t, I gain weight.

First, come up with a calorie plan to lose weight. Second, eat a balanced diet. And third, get some exercise. A recent examination of the food log revealed that I need to eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and I need to reduce some of the fat.

Do the math. Add up your calories consumed and your calories burned by exercise. If you burn more than you eat, I bet you lose weight.

If you think that Italian sausage poor boy is bad, start reading the labels. It is shocking what is in some of the stuff we eat.

I hate to paint anyway!

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has conducted surveys of food intake since the 1930s to determine what people eat. Each survey comprises a nationally representative sample of people residing in all 50 states. The survey includes two days of dietary intake providing a list of foods consumed, as well as information on where, when and how much of each food was eaten.

For the latest study, a variety of sweeteners were combined into sugar, corn sweetener and others. In the 1970s, sweetener intake was 120 pounds per capita. It rose to 147 pounds per capita in the late 1990s. Of all sweeteners used, high fructose corn syrup intake increased most dramatically by nearly 28 percent during that period. Depending on the reference point, the average calorie intake for all Americans older than 2 years increased by about 150-300 calories per day for different age-sex groups during that time. Much of this increase was due to increased intake of calorically sweetened beverages, about threefold increase. Studies show that fluids are less satiating than solid foods because fluid calories are not registered by our bodies, and therefore, it is easier to consume excess calories.

So what is the solution? What can we do to stop this addiction we have on sugar and sweeteners? Since large amounts of the sweeteners are in beverages, we can switch from sweetened beverages to water and drop our intake of sweeteners significantly. If someone drinks only one regular, sweetened 12-ounce soft drink a day and switches from that to water, this can lead to a drop in caloric intake that equals 15 pounds a year.

If you drink more than one sweetened beverage a day, the caloric intake can be even greater and changing some of the drinks to water can lead to big difference in caloric intake over time. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that we consume mostly water, 100 percent fruit juice and milk for beverages. Fruit juices tend to be high in sugar, but they also have all the nutrients from the fruit other than fiber. It is recommended that we consume low-fat or non-fat milk to cut down on saturated fats.

Read this fact sheet on how much sugar is in your diet.

Heli Roy


Monday, June 9, 2008

Get Outdoors on June 14

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The early results are in and the Soil Brothers and Sisters lead with 130 Live Fit points in the Chancellor’s Live Fit for Life Challenge. The rest of you have until Sept. 30 to catch up. In second place are the Livingston Losers with 105 points. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, this is all part of the LSU AgCenter wellness program outreach effort to assist our employees in the struggle to lead healthier lifestyles. We have 77 teams and 473 individuals signed up and working to earn fitness points. If you’re an AgCenter employee, you can logon to www.lsuagcenter.net/livefit and check the progress of your team. For those of you not part of our family, you might want to start your own competition. In this competition, even the losers win.

Another important thing to put on your calendar is Saturday, June 14, which is national Get Outdoors Day. For more information go to http://www.getoutdoorsusa.org/. After you read all the resource information, plan an outing to get outdoors and move around. Whissie and I will take a couple of walks. You have to keep your dog in good shape also. It’s actually a walk and a carry because the heat gets to him, and I have to carry him most of the way. Get outdoors and move around. Don’t wait until Saturday. Instead of driving Saturday, walk – you’ll burn less gas.

Do you like sweets? We will discuss our addictions tomorrow.

Bill Richardson

2/10/2009 1:16:40 AM
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