Friday, July 18, 2008

Leave a Healthy Legacy

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It appears to me that we are gaining some traction in the war on poor eating. Believe me, we can’t declare victory. But it does seem that many people are joining the fitness and nutrition revolution and are exercising and eating smarter, i.e. making smarter choices. Watching and listening to things going on around me indicates that people are getting back out and walking, running, biking and, in general, seeking out exercise.

As I listen to conversations, people discuss nutrition, eating out and food with nutritional qualifications. Just maybe the revolution has begun. If each one of us continues to set an example, the multiplier effect will make a visible difference. Maybe as role models we can get through to our teenagers who are battling obesity and give them hope that with effort, exercise and smart choices, some of those weight and chronic disease problems may be overcome.

I cannot think of a better legacy that the current generation can leave for the future generation than that of healthy lifestyles.

Keep the faith and exercise and watch your nutritional choices.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

A new report by the Centers for Disease Control has found that almost 30 percent of adults are obese, and the top five states are all located in the southern United States, including Louisiana. Our friends in Mississippi have held the “top spot” for the past three years.

Although this report is somewhat discouraging, it does not mean we should give up. It should give us more of a reason to push harder and assist others in establishing healthy lifestyles. One population we can’t forget about is our children. If children establish preventive health behaviors early in life, they will not have problems that many adults encounter when trying to change their eating or physical activity behaviors later in life.

A healthy lifestyle should not be the goal of one person, but of the entire family! The weekend is here. Be active and eat healthy.

Denise Holston


Last week I was at 4-H Camp wearing my pedometer as part of my AgCenter Live Fit Team. Our moniker is “Beauties and the Beast.” After sharing my steps with another 4-H agent, she suggested I share them with you. I was amazed to see how much I walked at 4-H Camp, and you may be too. Here's my step count: July 7 – 10,438, July 8 (1st full day of camp) – 23,814, July 9 – 20, 926, July 10 – 23,495, and July 11 (last day of camp) –7,423. I know I made my team proud!

Layne A. Langley

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Jot As You Jog

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Ever bought some exercise clothes in hopes that it would motivate you to start working out regularly? I have. My result? It doesn’t work. Exercise has to be a habit – an addiction of a positive nature.

When my doc said for me to exercise four times a week for the rest of my life, it sounded good until reality set in. The reality is that it is forever. Not just a six-week tune-up, but for every week of your life. Below are some tips that I find helpful in staying the course and staying motivated.

The most difficult step in exercising is the first one, the first one out the door. Once you are out there, you might as well keep walking, running, swimming, biking, etc. Think about making that first step. Someone once said that half of life is just showing up.

Chart your progress. I keep a detailed exercise log (unlike my pitiful food log attempts). I try not to miss two days in a row. It is a firm rule with me, and looking at the log helps.

Schedule your exercise like you schedule lunch, appointments, etc. Make the effort to write it down. Get a workout buddy. You are more likely to show up if someone is waiting on you.

I’ll share some more of these activities later. But before you go buy that new workout outfit, expensive shoes and all the other gear, make the workout one of your positive addictions. Then reward yourself with new exercise clothes.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

Keeping exercise and food records is valuable because these tools make us more aware of our habits and help change our behavior.

A recent press release of results from a Kaiser Permanente study showed that overweight people who kept daily food diaries lost up to twice as many pounds as those who kept no records. The two-year study included 1,685 overweight or obese adults and is one of the largest and longest running weight loss maintenance trials ever conducted. Dieters who kept their food diaries six or more days a week lost an average of about 18 pounds in six months, compared with about 9 pounds for those who didn't keep food diaries. The study will be published in the August 2008 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

There are many types of food journals or food diaries. Some people prefer a hand-held notebook and a pen that can be pulled out anywhere. But you can also jot down what you eat on a Post-It note or send yourself an e-mail or a text message. The LSU AgCenter Smart Portions Program includes a Journal of Personal Progress that provides space to record the type and amount of foods eaten, when they're eaten, and your mood or feelings when eating.

For those who don't like to spend time writing what they ate, there is also the option of photographing the food with a camera phone.

The most important thing about keeping a food record is to record the foods and amounts immediately after eating rather than waiting until the end of the day when it's difficult to remember.


Beth Reames

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Make Exercise, Veggies Part of Your Day

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If my pedometer is programmed correctly, I walked about 3.84 miles last evening in 64 minutes. That effort burned 500 calories. That is pretty close to my goal of 15-minute miles. I find the pedometer an excellent tool when you are walking and you do not have accurate measurements of your mileage. Assuming that my exercise log is close to recording mileage, I’ve walked about 410 miles since starting the exercise program last October. If I continue on the current pace, I’ll get in around 525 to 550 miles in the year. My goal was to make a lifestyle change, and as I’ve looked over the log book for the past nine plus months, I’ve been pretty consistent. One more workout per week on the average would bring me right to my goal.

A recent article offered some tips on how to incorporate your workout into your lifestyle:

1. Start small and build a habit. Don’t bite off more than you can do and lose interest.

2. Create a ritual. You deserve to give yourself the time to work out.

3. Measure your fitness. Keep a log. Keep your measurements! Count your repetitions. Metrics help keep interest.

4. Go for yourself, not to impress. People in the gym to be seen irritate me. You too?

5. Make it fun! If you can’t have fun, then doing 100 pushups each day will soon get old, and you will lose interest.

Now if I could only get myself to make eating my vegetables as much fun as working out.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

Eating and enjoying vegetables can become part of your lifestyle just as regular physical activity has. Everyone knows that eating vegetables is good, but it may be a challenge to eat the recommended amounts. Adults often have negative memories of being forced to eat their vegetables before being allowed to eat dessert or being served vegetables that were unidentifiably cooked to oblivion.

Research suggests that children may require 10 tastes of a new food over a period of weeks before they accept it. Also, the foods the kids taste most often are the ones they most prefer. Research has also shown that many children are sensitive to bitter flavors, and this might cause dislike of certain vegetables. However, over time the aversion to bitter tastes ease. This may explain why some adults (me) hated Brussels sprouts as children but now it's one of their (my) favorite foods.

Some ideas to help enjoy vegetables include:

  • Try a new fruit and vegetable once a week. Keep trying the new food to get used to the taste.
  • Seek out new vegetables to combat boredom and keep things interesting – perhaps kohlrabi or daikon radish?
  • Keep a bowl of fresh fruit handy and vegetables such as peas, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots and mushrooms in the fridge to grab for a quick snack.
  • Munch on crunchy, raw vegetables before the main meal, when you are often most hungry.
  • Make vegetables and fruit look great on the plate. Serve different colored fruit and vegetables. Chop them up for a change. Or serve them on a special plate.

Adding vegetables to your daily eating plan is easy:

  • Slip more vegetables into casseroles, soup, pasta and rice dishes.
  • Add steamed broccoli to pasta and red sauce or rice and beans.
  • Boost vegetable soup by adding squash, cauliflower or turnips.
  • Enhance a chicken and noodle casserole by adding carrots, green beans or sun-dried tomatoes.
  • Instead of lasagna noodles, try eggplant slices in lasagna.
  • Roll cabbage leaves around meat and rice patties or a barley and veggie patty.

Go to tips for increasing vegetables in your diet.

Beth Reames


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hot Weather Exercise

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I plan to go for an hour-long, vigorous walk this afternoon. Even though it’s hot, I will feel that my level of conditioning allows rigorous exercise in hot weather. However, there are some commonsense things that we need to keep in mind when exercising in the heat.

First and foremost, make sure you are in condition to handle rigorous exercise. For the hundredth time, see your doctor before ever starting an exercise program. Second, dress properly. There are some great fabrics out there now that work beautifully in hot weather. Third, hydrate yourself before, during and after the exercise. I drink a bottle of water before starting and at least two bottles afterwards. I really don’t find the sugary overhyped sports drinks help much. Good old zero-calorie, cholesterol-free water, chilled to perfection, is the perfect sports drink.

Finally, here are a couple of other exercise tips for you that I find helpful. Warm up before you start and cool down when you finish. It might sound stupid to recommend warming up in 95-degree heat. But before you start any exercise during hot or cold weather, give your heart a little notice by warming up and getting your blood flowing. And, in any exercise mode, cool down for a while after you finish. The treadmill that I work out on has a built in five- minute cool-down period. I would recommend the same as you finish the walk, slow down and keep moving a little slower, perhaps while sipping on a cold bottle of water for five minutes or so. I find that blood tends to pool in the extremities, my fingers and feet, when exercising – even to the point of minor swelling. The cool-down redistributes the blood.

I have water chilling and my favorite walking shirt clean and ready to go. My pedometer and stop watch are ready. Now a little cloud cover to shade the sun and one hour of pure exercise bliss, a cool down and water afterwards. Life is good!

Read these press releases from the LSU AgCenter for more information:

Bill Richardson

Monday, July 14, 2008

Food Doesn’t Spell Stress Relief

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Do you have those days when it seems that no matter what you do, you can’t seem to get organized? I did note one thing – when you get frustrated with everything being out of control, there is the tendency to say, “To heck with the diet and let’s eat.” Stress eating, like emotional eating, tends to bring out the worst in culinary experiences. If you are like me, it’s poor food choices when I get the stress munchies. This experience is like a lot of things – you know it, you feel it and yet somehow seem powerless to address the issue. I find that stress and emotional eating are my worst nutritional problems. The key for me is to stop and face the issue head on. Even if things are frustrating, I should not punish myself by eating too much and making poor choices. Here are some things I do:

1. Pause and mentally go through the issues causing the frustrations. In the grand scheme of things, they are usually rather trivial and not worthy of a major pig-out.

2. Get a diet drink or, better yet, a bottle of water and fill my stomach with something other than candy, chips and other snacks.

3. Walk! Walk away from the issues and people who might be causing them. Exercise might curb the tendency to eat. Distance solves some issues.

4. Deal with the frustrations one at a time. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Divide and conquer!

5. Laugh! Make light of the issues and remember not to sweat the small stuff. And, it’s all small stuff!

You might have your own techniques to deal with stress and emotional food binges. I find the above things help me.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

Frustration and stressful events lead to a physiological stress response. There are several different hormones involved in stress response including cortisol and adrenalin. An increase in these hormones results in the “fight or flight” response. We experience an increase in heart rate, and our breathing pattern changes. According to some research, cortisol and adrenalin and other chemicals released during stress may also have a role in the control of stress-related eating,

According to a laboratory study on the effects of stress on eating, healthy men had a decrease in food consumption when they observed a stressful video, whereas women showed an increase in food consumption. Women ate almost twice as many sweet foods after the stressful video than after a normal travel video.

Body weight can influence our eating response to a stressful event. Underweight individuals tend to eat less, whereas overweight individuals tend to over respond to emotional cues and eat more. They are more emotionally reactive and more likely to overeat when distressed than normal weight individuals. In particular, overweight individuals tend to overeat snacks when under stress than normal weight individuals.

If you are interested in losing weight, those that overreact under stressful conditions tend to have a more difficult time losing weight than those that do not respond to stressful situations as much. However, one study found that people can learn to respond differently to stress. Those that learned to respond less were more successful in losing weight over time.

A long-term stressful situation and a continuous stress response is thought to suppress our immune system. There is some research to indicate that stressful events can actually alter our response to an infectious disease, allergic response and even how well our bodies deal with cancerous changes.

If you are experiencing stress, please follow the steps outlined by the chancellor or find a person that can help you deal with the situation. The sooner you deal with the situation, the earlier you can eliminate the stress response and return to a lifestyle that supports optimum health.

Read this article on stress from the Mayo Clinic.

Heli Roy

2/10/2009 1:16:35 AM
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