11/26/07 - 11/30/07

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 30, 2007

Two Months And Counting 

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The numbers are in, and I have some good news to share. But you will have to wait until Monday to read about all the positive happenings.

The first two months are completed today. The nutrition and exercise programs have been easier to incorporate into my lifestyle than I expected. I have a lot of room to improve. First, I have the intensity of the workout right where I want it. But some weeks I struggle to get in the four workouts. As I look to December, I want to make some improvements in that area. Second, I will ask the specialists to review the food log for the first three days of December and recommend any changes to the plan. I am comfortable with the total calories consumption, but I want to ensure that I haven’t slipped in the variety and makeup of the calories consumed.

My overall assessment is that if you follow the guidelines recommended by the LSU AgCenter under the Smart Choices rubric, you can lead a healthier lifestyle, fight obesity and generally improve your health.

I’m often asked about the response I’m receiving from this blog. We seem to have about 750 people who log in daily. I have gotten several good comments, and it seems to be reaching many people. One of the most positive things that has happened for the AgCenter has been the fast-tracking of a wellness program. The wellness committee has taken the bull by the horns and is working enthusiastically to recommend many policies for consideration. Maybe the blog was instrumental in this groundswell of interest in wellness.

The Baton Rouge Advocate has interviewed me and will include a story during the first week of January. I hope the story helps with my aim of promoting a healthy lifestyle.

I hope you have a great weekend. I will let you in on one little secret before Monday – I’m not obese any more. Hurray!

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

The chancellor’s values have improved since he began two months ago. He will let you see the results on Monday. Eating a healthy diet that contains plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains, but staying within one’s calorie requirement will improve overall health and result in slow and steady weight loss. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains have not only nutrients such as vitamins and minerals that we need to stay healthy, but they also have phytochemicals that are not deemed essential, but are important in fighting chronic diseases. It is these phytochemicals that help lower blood pressure, reduce the incidences of cancer and promote good bone health. For example, apples, pears and cherries contain quercetin, which reduces inflammation. It is inflammation that is thought to be behind many of the chronic diseases. Red grapes have resveratrol, which helps the cardiovascular system to stay healthy. Berries have ellagic acid, which has been found to reduce cancer risk and reduce cholesterol levels. Similarly, some vegetables have powerful cancer-fighting chemicals. Broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts have sulphoraphane and indoles. Many red and green vegetables also have lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin, which reduce the risk of heart disease and macular degeneration. Weight loss results because fruits, vegetables and whole grains are low-energy, dense foods. This means that per weight, they have fewer calories. For example, 1 ounce of chocolate has about 150 calories while 1 ounce of apple has 14 calories. When we consistently eat foods that have fewer calories per weight, we feel fuller and tend not to eat as much.

Nutritionists also recommend that we think about averages of nutrients over several days. That way, if you overeat one day because you happened to attend a celebration, a special event or during the holidays, you can reduce intake before and after the event to keep your calories steady over the three- to seven-day period. If you happened to overindulge at one meal, reduce your intake somewhat in the next couple of meals, and think about walking or doing an extra set of your favorite exercises to burn off the extra calories.

Heli Roy


November 29, 2007

Boredom Moratorium

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As a society we tend to get bored very easily. Our attention spans seem to coincide with the typical TV sound bites. We are also impatient. Instant gratification just takes too long! I am easily bored and somewhat impatient. Wouldn’t it be nice to go to a one-day seminar and at the end of the day your complete nutritional lifestyle was changed and you didn’t have to worry about it anymore? Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. It took me several months to decide to do this blog. First of all, I didn’t want it to appear self-serving. And second, and most important, I knew that once I started, I couldn’t fail. Believe me, that feeling that I can’t fail was on my mind several times when I was tempted to not exercise or to pig out on something that I knew was not a smart choice.

Sometimes in life you just have to decide to make a change. The older we get, the more difficult it is to change. Often we wait too long before we change and then change only when given no other choice. We decide to exercise and eat healthy after an illness. We decide that being overweight is a problem after we are faced with the harsh realities of surgery.

In about a month, a huge part of our population will start their annual diet to lose weight. The success rates of those diet programs are not very good. We diet for a few days and then go right back to our old style. We get bored, lose patience and fail to honor our commitments. I faced the same situation. Some of the meals aren’t that exciting. I want to get all the weight off immediately. Once I committed to the blog, there was no turning back. With any task, we sometimes just have to deal with the realities and make smart choices. A lifestyle change means change for the long-term!

I like making plans. So I treated this lifestyle change as a plan – an exercise plan and a nutrition plan. A part of this plan was to write about it for one year, under the assumption that after a year, surely I had made and sustained the changes to carry me on through the rest of my life. I encourage you to make your plan, also. While you might not blog about it, find a support group to share your plans with and who will give you that positive encouragement to stick with it. If possible, find someone who you can mentor you in your quest for lifestyle changes. I am truly motivated by the many people who have told me the blog is a major source of motivation for them.

To accomplish your plan, you just have to be patient and stare down the boredom. The benefits from a lifestyle change are like putting money in your bank account. They will pay off in the long-term.

Tomorrow, I will give you a summary of my two-month venture with this blog, followed early next week with another analysis of the baseline data. Will there be another 12-pound loss and another 39-point drop in total cholesterol?

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

Some people do get bored when they jump into a diet or exercise regime too quickly. This can lead to burnout. Following are some ideas to take the blah out of your program.

Try new forms of physical activity.

  • Do you like to dance? Try salsa lessons.
  • Volunteer. Charitable organizations like Habitat for Humanity or the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank are always looking for volunteers. Why not give back to the community and be physically active at the same time?
  • Act like a kid again. Get the entire family to play games like charades, freeze tag and hopscotch. You’ll be physically active while spending quality time with your loved ones.

Get a buddy.

Ask a friend, co-worker or loved one to be your partner in the quest for a healthy lifestyle. Together, you will motivate each other.

Try new recipes with locally grown produce.

Head on over to your local farmer’s market and incorporate the produce into a healthy dish. Here are a few recipes from our EatSmart program.

Take pictures.

Take a picture of yourself in a bathing suit or light workout clothes. Hang this picture on the refrigerator or mirror. Retake a picture every 2-3 months. Seeing your “before” picture and the progress you have made will eliminate boredom and instill motivation.

Keep your eye on the prize!

Denise Holston


November 28, 2007

Master The Evening Munchies

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Do you ever get the evening munchies? I do – that tempting urge to go eat something even though you just had dinner a little while ago. Then the rationalizing starts. I’ve been good and stayed on my plan so a little snack won’t hurt. I’ll exercise extra hard tomorrow to make up for the added calories. All the reasons to eat just a little more start circling in your head. Those urges gnaw at all of us one time or another. In my previous nutritional lifestyle, I consumed far too many calories after 7 p.m. by sitting and munching on ice cream, popcorn, chip and dip, and more. In my quest for a healthy nutritional lifestyle, some drastic changes had to be made. The evening munchies were declared the enemy and had to be defeated.

I have found a few ways to get around the evening munchies. In adjusting my daily schedule, I find that doing my workout, the 4-4-4 plan, works best in the evening. In so doing, I have a later dinner, which reduces the down time between dinner and bedtime – which decreases the munchies zone considerably. I also have become addicted to my low-cal ice cream sandwich, which is only 140 calories and seems to satisfy that evening desire to snack. Also, keeping occupied by turning off the idiot box and doing something that requires my hands and mind helps control the urge to munch.

If you just have to have a little evening snack, go for a banana or apple. I have just eliminated sweet and unhealthy snacks from my nutritional plan. If push-comes-to-shove, I’d rather not eat anything than eat too much or the wrong thing. When I get on those scales each morning, I don’t want to see the effect of the evening munchies. I just plan those 140 calories in that ice cream sandwich into my 2,200-calorie plan and stay away from the rest. The evening munchies are getting whipped.

It’s been almost two months. Early next week I’ll give you a progress report. I’ll talk with you tomorrow about how I deal with the boredom of a major lifestyle change.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

Over the past couple of years, many people have asked me, “Does eating at night cause weight gain?” A person can eat at night as long as the snack or meal fits into daily caloric needs. A study in 2005 reported that late night eating was not associated with weight gain. This does not give you a free pass to skip other meals like breakfast to save calories for nighttime grazing. In fact, another study in 2004 found that people who ate more at night tended to eat more overall when compared to those who ate more in the morning.

Eating before bed does cause problems for those individuals who are prone to heartburn or gastric reflux disease. If you have one or more of these conditions eat at least 2-3 hours before your slumber.

Always remember to look at the big picture. Whether you gain, lose or maintain weight depends on the amount of calories you consume through food and burn through physical activity.

Denise Holston


November 27, 2007

Carb Questions

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Our media is full of suggestions about nutrition. Does all this stuff confuse you as much as it does me? Everybody has a plan or diet. Then there is the “don’t” diet – loosely translated, “If it tastes good, don’t eat it.”

How did you do over the holidays? I feel I accomplished my mission – not to overeat, watch portion size and enjoy the food, family and friendships. Did you see a lot of carbohydrates on the tables and menus? I sure did. There is a lot of attention given to carbohydrate consumption. Some people have made a lot of money writing books about these topics.

Recently, I saw information about what is a good carbohydrate and what is a bad carbohydrate. I was confused. What is a simple carbohydrate and what is a complex carbohydrate? Do I really need to know about my Glycemic Index? It seems the good carbohydrates are found in fruits, veggies, grains and milk. The bad carbs seem to have been refined and processed. Read the nutritionist’s response below for a good primer on the consumption of carbohydrates. And read how to eat smart.

Given all this confusing information, here is what I have incorporated into my nutrition planning based on my goals and commitment to a healthy lifestyle nutritionally speaking. The smart choices are: First, I am reducing the amount of carbohydrates, especially those that are refined or processed. This means eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy, especially milk. Second, I decided to get rid of sweets altogether. (I did have a piece of sugar-free chocolate pie for Thanksgiving that tasted pretty good.) This means I am eating more complex carbohydrates and significantly fewer simple carbohydrates. I don’t have time to analyze my food and want to have a game plan in place. More fruit and veggies, no sweets, and complex over simple. All this done in the context of a 2,200 daily calorie plan.

I save room within my calorie plan to have my low-cal ice cream sandwich. It’s my reward and guilty pleasure each day. Those 140 calories complete my calorie intake after every evening meal.

Like to snack at night? All night? Let’s talk about that tomorrow.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

The term "good" carbs is often used to refer to carbohydrate foods that provide important nutrients, not just calories. These include fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains and milk. The term "bad" carbs is often used to refer to carbohydrate foods that provide calories but few other nutrients.

Refined and processed carbohydrates also are often called "bad" carbs – even though many of the nutrients removed during refining and processing are added back, such as the addition of certain B-vitamins and iron to enriched white rice. Refined and processed foods usually contain less fiber than the unrefined product. For example, brown rice has more fiber than milled white rice, and an orange has more fiber than orange juice.

In addition, foods with a higher glycemic index also have been labeled as "bad" carbs. The glycemic index ranks carbohydrate foods based on how they affect the body’s blood glucose level. Individual foods are compared to white bread or glucose. Consuming foods with a higher glycemic index may raise blood sugar levels more than eating foods with a lower glycemic index.

Many factors affect the glycemic-index value of a specific food, including how the food is prepared, the amount of food eaten, and the other foods eaten with it. A person's glycemic index response also varies from day to day and it varies from person to person. Read more.

Carbohydrates are part of a healthful diet and are the body's preferred form of fuel. The recommended intake for carbohydrate is 45 to 65 percent of total calories. For example, for 2,200 calories, the recommended range of carbohydrate is 250 to 360 grams. One gram of carbohydrate supplies 4 calories.

There are two types of carbohydrates - simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are sugars and include glucose, fructose, galactose, maltose, sucrose and lactose. Sugars can be naturally present in food, such as the fructose in fruit and the lactose in milk, or added to sweeten food. Complex carbohydrates include digestible starches and indigestible dietary fiber.

The digestible carbohydrates, sugars and starches, supply energy to the body and provide the same number of calories, 4 calories per gram. Since dietary fiber is indigestible, it doesn't provide calories but has health benefits, including decreased risk of coronary heart disease and improved laxation.

It's important to choose carbohydrates wisely. Consuming food or beverages high in added sugars often leads to increased calories and decreased intake of nutrients.

Foods in the MyPyramid food groups that provide carbohydrates, along with other important nutrients, include fruits, vegetables, grains, milk and legumes (included in both the Meat & Beans and Vegetable groups).

Although most Americans would benefit from eating more whole grain foods, fruits, vegetables and legumes, all carbs can fit in a healthy eating plan. MyPyramid calorie plans provide a certain number of discretionary calories that can be spent on “extras.” The problem is many people have used up this allowance before lunchtime! Note: There are 290 discretionary calories on a 2,200-calorie plan.

Beth Reames


November 26, 2007

A Plan To Eat

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In a couple of weeks we sponsor the Chancellor’s Duck Hunt to raise money for capital campaign efforts. We will have about 40 guests for two days of duck and pheasant hunting near Jennings. We have people from several states as well as foreign countries attending. While the hunting is the central activity, the food is the cornerstone of the experience. We have several guests coming that don’t hunt, but they don’t want to miss the food.

The challenge of the event is that the food is endless. As soon as you get out of your vehicle, the camp staff puts food in front of you. Then you have dinner, then dessert – and then snacks abound as the evening is enjoyed for social interaction. You haven’t even seen a duck yet, and you are already filled to the brim with food. The next morning, the entire process starts over again – only worse because they have another full 24 hours to throw food at you. Believe me, the prepared food did not come out of a healthy lifestyles cookbook. This causes a special challenge for me because the AgCenter is the sponsor, and I’m expected to be the big hog at the trough.

The cooks at the camp we use can make anything taste good. And, it’s all homemade and fresh. The head cook is always coming around to make sure that I have had enough. You talk about a challenge. And I must confess that in previous years I’ve done all that I could to make sure the cook’s happy. I ate my fair share and more. So how do I approach this year? I need a game plan.

Here’s what I think I will do. It’s easy to skip the snacks. You are only eating those things because they are there. This year no snacks!

I plan to try all the food but in reasonable portion sizes and in moderation. Tell the cooks how great it tastes rather than showing them how much you can eat. Think quality over quantity.

I plan to eat a little lighter at breakfast and lunch. These meals are less social, and people come and go as they prepare for the hunt. Less peer pressure!

For dinner I will – as noted above – taste everything in moderation including the dessert. The real challenge is staying with 2,200 calories. I’ll let you know right after the hunt if I succeed or failed miserably. The camp does not have a treadmill, but maybe I can sneak in a walk or two. I love watching the sun come up in the morning. It is a great time to walk.

Does it seem to you that our opportunities to eat are endless? Welcome to South Louisiana!

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

Like the holidays, many events and social occasions center around food. But no matter what the occasion, go back to the central rules of a healthy lifestyle.

Plan ahead – Just like when you travel, have a plan of action. What do you plan to do to continue on your path to a healthy lifestyle? In planning, remember to purchase nutrient-dense snacks that may not be readily available at the camp. Snacking between meals will prevent overeating during mealtime because it takes the edge off hunger.

Moderation – Remember that you can eat any food as long as you do so in moderation. For example, if chocolate mousse is on the menu, try a spoonful. Although this seems like a small amount, it will actually help you to feel less deprived and avoid overindulging on other foods. Don't deprive yourself of your favorites. Make it a balancing act. Cut the salad dressing and the roll, and go for a small slice of pecan pie.

Be selective – Think about what foods you really want to eat, which ones you will just sample and which ones you will skip.

Enjoy – Enjoy the company of your guests, and savor every bite of food.

Hydrate – Remember to drink plenty of water. In addition to hydrating your body, consuming water will also help maintain your body temperature – even in cold weather. Brrr!

Physical activity – In Louisiana, December is the perfect time to head outdoors. The beautiful scenery will keep you motivated to exercise.

Also, remember to “eye” your portion sizes:

  • 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

Perhaps the cooks at the camp would like to offer more healthful fare at the camp but aren’t sure how. Share your knowledge!

Denise Holston

2/10/2009 1:16:30 AM
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