Friday, August 1, 2008

What’s Your Lifestyle Change Grade?

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Can you believe it’s the first of August? Where did the summer go? The media is full of football. The Olympics are starting this weekend, and I feel like it still should be the first of June. As I mentioned yesterday, we have about two months to go with this blog, and I want to review my goals and plans for those two months.

My weight has stabilized and not changed appreciably since earlier this year. I consider a two-three pound swing minor, and because I’ve stayed under 229, that part of the goals has been attained. However, I would like to get rid of another 10 pounds, and that will be a focus for the next two months. I am also a little short of my exercise goals relative to the 4-4-4 plan, which is four times a weeks for 40 minutes at level 4 on the treadmill (15-minute miles). My average for 10 months is about 3.3 times per week, although the intensity and duration activities are above the goal. I am making smarter choices, although I do have those stretches where it seems that keeping with 2,200 calories is impossible. The smart choices are here to stay. Little if any fast food, no donuts, smaller quantities of ice cream, and a great reduction in salty snacks. Overall, about B so far and with a little discipline on the final exam, I might be up to a B+ or an A-.

Most encouraging of all has been the interest the blog has created. As I mentioned when starting, this is not about me but a cause. I am the test rabbit. If my story could motivate you and others, then maybe we could help with lifestyle changes. We still have an obesity problem. We still have unhealthy lifestyles. We still have chronic disease problems like type II diabetes. Our state has a long way to go.

I plan to restore some discipline to my diet and exercise program. After the DXA and blood profiles are reported on next week, we will make adjustments for the big finish. I would really like to get that A-.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

Lifestyle modification can lead to weight loss and improvement in chronic disease risk factors. A study was conducted about the effectiveness of using lifestyle modification for weight loss, and the results were recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine. More than 55 subjects were enrolled for more than a year in a lifestyle modification program where they were required to keep a daily journal about eating and exercise. The subjects were prescribed a balanced-deficit diet of 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day, with approximately 15 percent of energy derived from proteins, 30 percent or less from fats, and the remainder from carbohydrates. All were encouraged to exercise (walk) 30 minutes a day most days of the week. The subjects met weekly training sessions on healthy eating. At one year, treatment by lifestyle modification resulted in a 15-pound weight loss. It was important to keep food records, and that contributed to the weight loss. Those that did not adhere well to the program had only about 3 to 4 pound weight loss, compared to those that showed good adherence. In addition, all blood parameters associated with the risk of chronic disease were normalized. Blood pressure dropped. Blood lipids such as total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol were reduced, while HDL was increased. Also, blood glucose and insulin values were significantly improved.

We can lose weight quickly by severe dieting, but to truly learn a new way and approach to eating takes much longer. An intervention program that lasts for a whole year is a program that can result in fundamental changes in individual’s approach to eating and exercise. You have read about the struggles and temptations the chancellor has faced over the last year, but he has always kept his eye on the prize, embracing a healthy lifestyle. He did not look for a quick fix or go on a fad diet or decide to take many supplements. Instead, he wanted to change his eating and exercise patterns that would result in a slow weight loss, while at the same time contributing to his well-being. To feel better for the rest of our lives, we must make smart choices consistently. It does not mean that we can’t have birthday cake or a special treat every now and then. We can. But it means that most of the time we make the smart choices. Our body has to have nutrients to work properly. We get these nutrients from healthy, everyday foods that are available in our grocery stores.

Read “Finding Your Way to a Healthier You” from the LSU AgCenter.

Heli Roy


Thursday, July 31, 2008

Healthy Lifestyle Cookbook Ahead

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Two months to go! The idea for this blog was hatched about a year ago in a brainstorming session. Then, the blog was initiated on Oct. 1, 2007. I have scheduled the DXA and blood work for next Tuesday, and we can then discuss the baseline data and determine the progress to date. Recall that our goal was lifestyle change relative to nutrition and exercise and, in my specific case, weight loss through lifestyle changes involving both reduced caloric intake and increased exercise. I look forward to seeing where we are next week and setting some short-term goals for the rest of the experience.

We are exploring a healthy lifestyles cookbook as the second generation to the LSU AgCenter cookbook currently in circulation. I can see one chapter devoted to 101 ways to eat almonds or another one on how to make green beans taste like chicken. All joking aside, the media continue to be awash in stories about nutrition and its impact on the quality of lives of people. The old adage that we are what we eat seems to be truer than ever. I have kicked my donut, whole chocolate milk habit and gotten control of the ice cream addiction. I assume that two out of three is pretty good. Like I’ve said before – ice cream doesn’t count. But, to confess, those little peanut M&M’s packages seem to just fall into the grocery cart as I’m checking out. At least it’s not the half-pound bag that I would purchase before the blog. Now, that’s a lifestyle change.

I mentioned yesterday that Farmers Market Week begins August 3. Why not get a head start and go visit your favorite farmers market this weekend? At farmers markets, there are no M&M packages by the checkout.

Bill Richardson

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Eat Local Louisiana Challenge

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Eating out offers many challenges, but eating out in another country is very problematic. I just returned from a trip to Ukraine to visit two universities where the LSU AgCenter has joint programs under way. I was a most gracious guest and ate my way through five days of meetings, receptions, etc. Now it is back to stark reality, smart choices and 2,200 calories. I must say that one factor in Europe is the exercise. People walk everywhere. I was able to keep my exercise regimen and, hopefully, that offset the gross lack of discipline in food consumption.

Our new commissioner of agriculture has issued a challenge to us called “Eat Local Louisiana Challenge.” This challenge concurs with national Farmers Market week, which is August 3-9. Commissioner Mike Strain asks that we eat only food grown in Louisiana for one week. Makes sense, and we have on several occasions talked about farmers markets and fresh fruits and vegetables. Lets’ all support these groups and eat only those things grown in our state for one week.

We will report baseline data next week. There are only two months left in the yearlong blog exercise. Readership remains strong and, hopefully, we are making a difference.

Bill Richardson


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Healthier Lifestyles Would Lengthen U.S. Lives – Guest Blog

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There was an article recently in the local paper discussing the benefits of a healthier lifestyle. One of the benefits is a longer life by an average of 1.3 years. This gain in years would occur if we lost weight, quit smoking, lowered our cholesterol level, brought our blood pressure within normal limits, exercised and ate right. Some would gain many years, and others may not gain as much. It would all depend on our family history and genetics and how our body would respond to doing the right thing. We could reduce the number of heart attacks by two-thirds and strokes by almost a third.

We know there are definite benefits from quitting smoking, for example, that would reduce several risk factors all at once. Quitting smoking would reduce the risk for a sudden heart attack or a stroke. It would reduce the risk for cancer.

Living a healthier lifestyle where blood pressure, blood lipids and weight are under control would mean that people would live longer lives, and their lives would be fuller and more meaningful. They would not need to spend so much time at doctors’ offices or worry about medications. They would be able to be more active.

Engaging in physical activity can reduce a lot of different risk factors that make up the metabolic syndrome: diabetes, hypertension, high blood lipids, to name some. A new study shows that short bursts of intense activity seem to be better for reducing the risk factors than longer but less vigorous activity.

We know we should exercise and eat right, but do we practice it and do we make it a priority? No. Most of the time we do not. Exercising gives us many benefits including reducing stress, allowing us to sleep better, and burning off any extra calories.

Read the LSU AgCenter’s Smart Choices fact sheet “Give Your Heart a Break.”

Use the Smart Choices “Meal Planning Guide.”

Lower your blood pressure by doing what it says in “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH).”

Heli Roy

2/10/2009 1:16:32 AM
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