11/12/07 - 11/16/07

Chancellor's Challenge. Chancellor Bill Richardson has made the decision to change to a healthierlifestyle. Follow his daily accounts and remarks from nutritionists to help him stay on course.

November 16, 2007

Weight Of Expectations

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When I went to get my physical in late September, I was waiting in the exam room and picked up a chart that had the ideal weights for men and women. My first response to the weight for a 6-foot-1-inch man was, “Are you kidding me?” I think I was still laughing (Or was it crying?) when the doctor came in to examine me. If I read the chart right, my ideal weight would be around 170 pounds. I don’t recall ever weighing 170. And, I’m fairly certain that I may never weight 170 again. So what do I do about this piece of information?

I tried to rationalize the data. After all, I’m big-boned. Ever tried to use that phrase? Athletes and the like might actually have low body fat figures but be many pounds away from an ideal weight. My thinking was that the chart was a guide. I already know that based on the baseline data reported in this blog, I am obese and need to lose some weight. I have adjusted my diet, which I am sticking to, and seeing some loss of weight – 12 pounds in October alone. We’ll see on December 1 if more is lost. Can I get to 170 or even 180 or 190? Many people have asked if I had a goal. Not really – although my first big hurdle was to get below 229. I did that recently. It felt good to see those scales without a 230 plus number. Maybe by the first of the year, we can see a 219 or less. But how much is enough?

Remember, my goal was to develop a healthy lifestyle concerning nutrition and exercise. We have targeted one year with the assumption that if I can maintain this lifestyle for one year, I have a good chance of continuing it for my lifetime. For me, my weight one year from now is somewhat irrelevant. I might get down below 200, but if my baseline data is good, and I’ve made permanent adjustments in my nutritional lifestyle, then my ideal weight is what I consider ideal – not what I see on a chart.

Our specialists have some additional information for you to consider. For me, when I go back for my annual physical in 2008, I hope that my laughter regarding ideal weight is only a grin of satisfaction – regardless of what I actually weigh.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

What’s your healthy weight? The answer is not “step on the scale and look at the chart.” Your healthy weight is just that, one that is healthy for you. This can depend on several factors: your body mass index (BMI), the location of body fat and your overall health.

BMI is calculated based on an individual’s weight and height. A BMI value between 18.5-24.9 indicates healthy and normal weight. A value below 18.5 indicates underweight, and a value above 24.9 indicates overweight. When the value falls between 25 and 29.9, that means a person can be overweight. A value above 30 indicates obesity.

BMI is an easy and quick tool to assess where someone falls in the weight continuum. The generous range of weight in the healthy range allows for individual differences, but it has limitations. Someone who has higher musculature may get a reading that indicates they are overweight when, in fact, they are not. BMI does not take into consideration body fat content.

Your body fat percentage is also important in determining your weight. Remember, BMI does not take into account muscle, which weighs more than fat. Determining how much of your weight is caused by fat can be beneficial.

Are you an apple or a pear? The location of the fat is important in determining if your weight is putting you at risk. If the fat around your waist is in excess and out of proportion to your total body fat, this is considered “android” obesity. Android obesity is also referred to as an apple shape because the distribution of excess body fat is above the hips. Obese individuals with an android (apple) distribution of body fat are at a greater risk for diabetes and heart disease. High risk is considered a waist circumference greater than 40 inches for men and greater than 35 inches for women.

Your overall health is also important in determining if you are at your healthy weight. If you have weight-related risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, you may benefit from weight loss. See your doctor for a physical, and always consult with a doctor before starting an exercise program.

Denise Holston


November 15, 2007

Strictly Business

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I read recently that you should never eat alone. This item came from a business publication. I’m sure it was meant as advice that meals are a good time to discuss business with clients and colleagues. Sounds like good time management. Sometimes, though, during a hectic day, isn’t it okay to enjoy lunch by oneself?

My experience is that when I eat alone, I tend to consume more than when I dine for business purposes. And, while lunch is the time when we generally are in a business setting, it is a meal that I like to eat lighter than usual. Could it also be that if I’m choosing to eat alone and the time is hectic, I might have a tendency to consume that dreaded comfort food? And, if nobody is watching me, I might not worry about peer pressure and pig out. The worst possible combination is pigging out with comfort food. Nobody is watching, and situational ethics tells me that I can eat poorly and consume extra calories without getting caught.

So let’s follow the business world advice and never eat alone. We may begin to look at our nutrition planning from an eat-to-live rather than a live-to-eat perspective. We can use meal time to develop relationships – whether it is business or social, with family and friends, or clients and colleagues. Who knows? Our good eating habits might rub off on others who see us following a healthy lifestyle.

Tomorrow I will discuss with you a fantasy topic – my ideal weight. This blog might be more appropriately titled, “Are you kidding me?”

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

Eating in a social setting changes our eating pattern. Some eat less when they are in a social setting. Others eat more. Several research studies indicate that many people eat more when they eat with someone versus eating alone. They also eat more variety. The overweight and obese eat more than lean people whether they eat alone or in a social setting.

Eating alone reduces intake and the nutritional quality of diets, particularly in the elderly. Those who eat alone often select diets below par in recommended nutrients. They graze through the day or indulge at one meal while skipping others. When elderly are eating and living alone, they also do not prepare full meals, and there is lack of food groups, such as vegetable and fruits, and variety. There is no incentive to cook and therefore meals suffer. This leads to reduced nutrient intake.

Some of the nutrients found to be limited when eating alone were protein, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B-12, vitamin B-6, zinc, magnesium, vitamin C and iron. Also sufficient calories were lacking. Chronic limited nutrient intake can lead to depression, fatigue, increased susceptibility to inflammation and other problems.

Eating is a social function, and all the sensory qualities are enhanced when we are eating in a social setting. Meals prepared for more than one person tend to have more variety and textures. There is incentive to cook and experience a shared meal. Meals in a social setting tend to include more vegetables and whole grains. When individuals eat alone, they may graze throughout the day and leave out entire groups of foods such as fruits.

Heli Roy


November 14, 2007

Beat The Breakfast Blahs

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I sometimes get tired of the same old breakfast. I’ve been consuming my fair share of cold cereal, skim milk and a banana for six weeks. To add insult to injury, on my recent trip to Honduras, I visited a banana research faculty and was given more information about bananas than I really wanted to know. Now, not only do I consume the banana, I also know about its reproductive exploits. Some days I really miss my donuts.

Are there some other healthful options for breakfast? I have started to include some oatmeal. It is hot and tastes great with fruit – banana or otherwise. A brief search of our Web site indicates the following. First, AgCenter experts say to use breakfast as a way to get grain, fruit and dairy. Some of their recommendations included whole wheat toast with peanut butter and topped with sliced bananas. (I just can’t get away from bananas) Another suggestion is low-fat yogurt mixed with cereal and fruit. I have tried the yogurt thing before and like it. I just mix my cold cereal and yogurt together and add some fresh fruit. I do like cold milk (dairy) with whatever I’m eating for breakfast. And, even if you are eating a cold cereal with milk, a hot cereal, or a cereal with yogurt, make it a whole-grain cereal.

To beat the breakfast blahs, I like to mix it up. The mix includes fruit, milk, yogurt, wheat toast and grains. If you’re a cheese freak, add a little cheese and you have the makings of several breakfast meals that keep you on track. Making a smart choice is still the fundamental rule. You can only get bored if you allow yourself that permission. (I like to throw in a little philosophy now and then.)

Finally, skipping breakfast is not a solution to boredom. Eat something! Even if you eat five and six meals a day, which some nutritionists recommend, never skip breakfast. So if you got to do it, make a smart choice. You will be rewarded with better health. Below you will find some information about smart choices and breakfast.

I read the other day that we should never eat alone. Let’s explore that tomorrow.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

Breakfast is important for health and performance. After many hours without food, your body needs to replenish its fuel supply of glucose (blood sugar). Glucose is the brain's main energy source. Blood glucose also helps fuel the muscles needed for physical activity throughout the day.

Studies show breakfast eaters tend to have more strength, endurance, better concentration and problem-solving abilities. Those who skip breakfast often feel tired, irritable or restless in the morning. Getting the 40-plus nutrients needed each day is more likely for those who eat a morning meal. Breakfast skippers may never make up the nutrients they miss.

Some people believe that skipping breakfast may help them lose weight. Skipping meals, however, often leads to overeating later in the day. Becoming over-hungry often leads to a lack of control and the inability to determine when you’re full. This can result in taking in more calories than if you had a nutritious breakfast.

The most satisfying breakfasts provide a balance of nutrients including carbohydrate, protein and fat. Protein and fat slow your body's absorption of carbohydrates and help you avoid feeling hungry later in the morning. Fiber-rich foods add bulk to fill you up.

The choices abound for planning a nutritious, tasty breakfast. A quick and easy choice is whole-grain cereal topped with skim or low-fat milk or yogurt and fresh fruit. Choose cereals that are low in sugar and provide at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.

Smoothies are another quick option. Blend fruit and yogurt to make a healthful shake or smoothie. Keep frozen blueberries, strawberries and peaches on hand to make flavorful smoothies any day, any season.

Other quick ideas include:

  • toasted whole-wheat English muffin topped with peanut butter, along with an apple, banana and a small handful of peanuts or almonds
  • hummus on whole-wheat toast and milk
  • trail mix made with whole-grain cereal, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, along with a glass of skim milk
  • breakfast parfait – layer low-fat yogurt, fruit and your favorite crunchy cereal
  • tuna salad on toasted whole-wheat bread with an orange
  • breakfast tortilla – wrap deli turkey or chicken and low-fat cheese in a whole-wheat tortilla with spinach and eat with a piece of fruit. Or, instead of meat, add beans (think breakfast burrito)

If you have time, the sky’s the limit on what you choose to eat for breakfast. Beware of eating breakfast on the road, however. Many breakfast choices at fast-food restaurants are high in calories, fat and sodium.

Beth Reames


November 13, 2007

Sleep Well

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I read recently that sleep is as essential for our well-being as food and water. Because I’m writing about lifestyles, I thought it would be interesting to explore sleep requirements. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has some data on the need that our bodies have for sleep.

How much sleep you need depends upon your age. For example, infants need 16 hours. Teenagers need nine. (I think they underestimate this one). And adults need seven to eight hours.

The institute offers some other insights. First, as you get older, you tend to sleep lighter and for shorter spans, even though you need about the same amount of sleep as you did in early childhood. (Does that make the case for napping?) Half the people in our society who are over 65 have a sleep disorder. If you are in that group and have sleeping problems, the links below will offer you some information. Second, if you feel drowsy during the day, even during boring activities, you are likely not getting enough sleep. (Another good reason to make a case for afternoon naps!) Third, sleep deprivation is a serious concern for public safety because driver fatigue results in 100,000 motor vehicle accidents and 1,500 deaths per year. In the supporting analysis below, you will find additional information for those of you who have sleep-related disorders. Don’t drive drinking and don’t drive with sleep deprivation!

Research from the institute indicates that lack of sleep negatively affects our immune system. There even seems to be a positive relationship between one’s quality of sleep and the production of human growth hormone, increased production of necessary proteins, and prevention of protein break-down – all necessary for keeping our bodies in tip-top shape. The point is we need good quality sleep for a healthy lifestyle.

Do you get bored with breakfast? We will discuss that tomorrow. Now, get a good night’s sleep. And, let’s all nap next Saturday right after LSU beats Ole Miss.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

In our busy lives we tend to underestimate the quantity and quality of sleep we need each day. Researchers at Columbia University actually found that decreased sleep is linked to increased weight among adults between the ages of 32-59. Subjects who got less than four hours of sleep were 73% more likely to be obese than those who received seven and nine hours of sleep nightly. Subjects who got five hours of sleep were also 50% more likely to be obese.

Some people think less sleep may help them burn more calories. After all, they are up and about and not at rest. Research indicates otherwise, however. The levels of two hormones related to appetite are also related to sleep deprivation. So, decreased sleep means increased appetite.

Children are not exempt from this. A Canadian study revealed that children who got less than 10 hours of sleep were three and a half times more likely to be obese than children who were well-rested, or got 12 hours of sleep per night.

Want to get a good night's sleep? Try these tips from the National Institutes of Health:

  • Stick to a schedule.
  • Avoid caffeine.
  • Avoid nicotine.
  • Avoid eating large meals before sleep.

Most importantly, if you are always tired, yet you still have trouble sleeping, see your doctor.

Denise Holston


November 12, 2007

Conquer Yourself

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The holiday season is near – that time of year where we feel no hunger pains until waking up January 2. Then, realizing that we overate, we make another of those resolutions to lose weight – the same one we have made each year for the past several decades. I think that I am going to do it backwards this year. I’m making my lifestyle resolutions before the holidays start.

First, I will not overeat. The healthy lifestyle plan is working, and the excuse of the holiday food abundance will not deter me. I will not eat cherry pie for breakfast regardless.

Second, I will continue the 4-4-4 plan. It should be even easier if I can manage my leisure time during the break. I will not eat mango ice cream in the middle of the afternoon.

Third, I will enjoy the food, watch portion size and continue my nutrition plan staying with the daily 2,200-calorie limit. I will not gain weight over the holidays. No donuts!

Fourth, I will find a way to share our food abundance with the less fortunate.

Finally, I remember the advice I got from a flight instructor when I was learning to fly small aircraft. One day as I struggled to guide the plane along a heading and maintain altitude, the instructor looked at me and said, “Ace, you have to conquer yourself before you can conquer the plane.” Perhaps we can transport that wisdom to our lifestyle plans. You have to conquer yourself before you can make changes. Let’s use this holiday season as a training ground to making those positive lifestyle changes and conquer our bad habits, replacing them with the good ones.

On January 2, I will report back on how I did in keeping these resolutions. Why not make some of your own and let’s compare notes? Let’s be proactive and keep the nutrition and exercise plan going right through to next year.

Many of us use the holiday season to get rest often neglected during our normal life patterns. Tomorrow we will talk a little about sleep and rest.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

Several research studies indicate that when we have a large selection of food available to us, we tend to eat more than if we had a limited selection. During the holidays, we attend parties, celebrations and family gatherings for special occasions, and there is always a wide selection of food available. You can do several things to try to combat overeating in these situations:

  • Use a smaller plate. You cannot fill a smaller plate as full as a large one. Fill half the plate with vegetables.
  • Take only a small spoonful of each item if you are determined to taste everything. Don’t go back for seconds.
  • Choose one of each type of food available. If there are several different types of breads, take only one. If there are several meats, decide which one you want the most and take that. Choose one hot vegetable and one salad. Choose only one dessert.
  • Drink a glass of water first.

If you are interested in finding out how many calories you are eating throughout the day, go to the MyPyramid Tracker Web site. You will need to establish a user ID and password. You can input your daily meal and find out exactly what your caloric intake is and the distribution of calories that comes from fat, carbohydrate and protein.

It is important during the holiday season to exercise. It is a stress reliever and during the holidays, we tend to have stress for many reasons. Invite family members for a walk with you, and you can catch up with their lives while you are walking. Walking can help expend energy in case you overindulged on food.

It is easy to forget about portion size during the holidays with all the tempting food available to us. But this is the time to keep portion size in mind to try to limit calorie intake. Here’s a tip. At the Thanksgiving table, stop eating and put your plate away before you feel full. That way you are less likely to overeat. It takes 20 minutes for the signal to reach your brain that you have had something to eat. So slow down and push away from the table before you feel full.

The following are some portion sizes to help you navigate the holiday table:

  • Deck of cards = serving of meat
  • Checkbook = serving of fish
  • CD case = pancake or waffle
  • Computer mouse = potato and sweet potato
  • Tennis ball = rice, pasta or cooked cereal and ice cream
  • Six dice = serving of cheese
  • Baseball = fruit and vegetable servings

Please check the links below for some suggestions about eating healthy during the holidays:

Heli Roy

2/10/2009 1:16:39 AM
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