12/10/07 - 12/14/07

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.

December 14, 2007

Write It Down

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I must report my three-month grades on keeping my food and exercise logs. Exercise log = A+ and food log = F, maybe a D if you curve the grades. It looks as if I’m headed for remedial food-log-keeping school. The question that arises is why did I keep a detailed exercise log and keep sporadic and incomplete food logs? At first I thought my exercise program was on target and food was not. Being human I kept track of the good stuff and slacked on the things I didn’t want to face. I know none of you has ever done that! Actually, the opposite seems true. I have stayed within the nutrition range and written about the difficult times and have maintained a good exercise program, although I want to improve my consistency of exercise. Maybe it’s just more fun to write about accomplishing a workout than eating chicken breast with green peas.

These logs can really help. As I complete the balance of December, I want to get that “F” off my record and move up into the “B” range for food-log-keeping. I’ll see if I can procure the same type binder for my food log that I have for my exercise log – rather than use the backs of envelopes as I have been doing. That way the specialist can more easily analyze my eating over time.

I strongly encourage you to try to match my “A” for exercise log and exceed my “F” for food log. Develop your own system and write it down. One of the things that our specialist found in the research is that writing down things helps keep you honest. I find that by writing down things, I keep a good record of everything that goes in my mouth. Otherwise, you might forget about that third helping of cheesecake.

On Monday, I want to share with you a thought about our teens and their pets. I may even tell you about my experience in walking my dog.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

Research shows that one of the best ways to keep us honest about what we eat and how much we exercise is to jot everything down. In most research studies involving weight loss, one of the most important tools the researcher has to check on the participant progress is the diet record. Keeping a diet record can be a revelation to the participant. Many times they did not realize they ate so often, so much and the wrong foods. Many people may not have been aware at all about what they ate before beginning a diet record. Once you commit to a healthy lifestyle and follow a diet based on MyPyramid, it is still a good idea to keep a diet record. It may help you keep from slipping back to old habits.

Most diet records start with these column headings: time, food, amount and where eaten. You may add columns to indicate hunger level and mood. The time column keeps you aware that you may be eating most of their calories starting from late afternoon and going until late into the night or vice versa.

When you list the foods you eat, be as detailed as possible. List how the food was prepared, grilled, baked, sautéed, fried etc. For example, if you list chicken but don’t indicate whether it was light meat or dark meat and how it was prepared, it would be difficult to estimate the caloric content.

Record the amount of food consumed. Was it 1/2 cup pasta? Or 1 cup? Or 1 ½ cups? What if the pasta had vegetables mixed with it? You would want to try to be as accurate as possible when you record what you ate.

Next you will want to list where you ate your meal. This can be a revelation also and you might find out you are munching on something all night while watching TV or reading. Some food records also want you to indicate your hunger level (levels 1-5). Were you really hungry at level 5? Or not very hungry at all at level 1? Was your mood happy, sad, depressed, etc.?

Keeping a food record for a week to 10 days at a minimum when you start can give you a good indication of what you are eating, how much and what your eating pattern is. If you find that it is too much to keep a diet record all the time, it is a good idea to record your intake at least one day a week for several weeks when you are modifying your diet until you get the hang of your new eating pattern.

Heli Roy


December 13, 2007

Variety: The Spice Of Life

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I realized last night I was getting into a rut. In my quest to remain loyal to the nutrition plan, I was eating the same things for breakfast, lunch and dinner. By continuing to eat the same things, I knew I would not stray and consume too many calories. However, there are only so many ways to fix a chicken breast or a green vegetable. An apple or banana isn’t a novel experience in adding fruit to the plan. Variety is the spice of life, yet my nutrition plan was getting stale.

I need to add variety and stay with the plan, yet keep it simple. Here are three axioms: First, we need food to exist. Second, we need to eat correctly to exist in a healthy manner. And third, if one and two are a must, then we need to find healthy foods that taste good. Three simple rules.

I have been single-handedly keeping the poultry industry profitable. So I need to add good lean beef not only to keep the cattle producers happy but also to add variety. I’m also consuming too little fish.

I also keep one particular manufacturer of a cold cereal in business. I eat it at the same time each day and use as one of my fruits – a banana – to make the cereal taste a little better. This cereal company should put me on its board. So what can I do to add variety? I plan to replace the daily cold cereal with a slice of whole-wheat toast with a tablespoon of peanut butter (I like the extra chunky) and a glass of vegetable juice. I hope my body is up to the challenge of change.

For lunch, I plan to make some homemade soups, which does sound especially appealing as the weather cools. And, like many of you know, leftovers make a good lunch, assuming that they are leftovers from your healthy lifestyle eating plan.

Like your nutrition plan, exercise can also get into a rut. I like the treadmill because it keeps me honest and consistent. But that too can get a little stale. I find that if I have other walking venues such as the levee and the university lakes in addition to my neighborhood, I can change up the routine and see new things.

So add some variety to your nutrition and exercise programs. It is the spice of life.

Bill Richardson


The 4-H Canine Connection dog club encourages kids to stay fit through physical activities they can do with their dog. Walking, playing and training your dog can keep both your dog and you healthy. There are dog parks springing up everywhere that allow for socialization and free play. Additionally, there are limitless organized dog sports that require both you and your dog to be both skilled and fit. On Dec. 15 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Bluebonnet Swamp in Baton Rouge, there will be “Dog Days” event for the whole family. On "Dog Days" the swamp drops its no pets policy and opens its trails to dogs. All pets must be on a leash and up-to-date on vaccinations. The 4-H Canine Connection organizational meeting will be at 10 a.m. for all current and new 4-H members planning to participate in activities, training and service projects in 2008. This will be the time to register for meetings, training classes and special events. The dog club will be divided into four levels this coming year. Beginning in January you can participate in activities that fit your special interest and experience. 4-H registration, canine information and dog craft projects will be held indoors from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Kathy McCutcheon


December 12, 2007

Eating Ourselves Sick

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Denise Holston did a wonderful job in her presentation to the LSU Board of Supervisors last Friday. She briefed the board on the AgCenter’s outreach program called Body Walk, which is aimed at combating childhood obesity. The Body Walk, which is an interactive, walk-through exhibit, is an exemplary program sponsored through an agreement with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation. The exhibit was taken to more than 100 schools last year.

Over the weekend I had a chance to catch up on some overdue reading and ran across two articles about obesity. One article – entitled “Obesity – the wild card for health care” in the Financial Times by Christopher Bowe – cited a 1953 research paper that attributed the situation to “an affluent 20th century lifestyle, with significant cultural changes, including the use of cars, school buses and lifts instead of walking or climbing stairs, children confined to their neighborhoods’ and fewer manual chores.” President Eisenhower established the Presidents’ Council on Physical Fitness in 1956. Fifty plus years later we continue to face the challenges noted in 1953, only things have gotten worse. I’m summarizing some of the thoughts presented in the articles: If we do not arrest and reverse the trend, our healthcare delivery system will deteriorate. Studies suggest that persons engaging in unhealthy lifestyles consume 50 percent to 75 percent or more of healthcare services. Employers are beginning to ramp up efforts to change employee lifestyles.

The other article was in the Wall Street Journal. It was written by Rachael Zimmerman and entitled “Obese Kids Face Higher Risk of Heart Disease in Adulthood.” Researchers found that the greater the increase in the children’s weight, the higher their risk of heart disease. This research puts forth some serious problems for us. One salient observation noted in the article was research conducted by Jennifer Baker, an epidemiologist in Copenhagen. Dr. Baker summarizes that the earlier the intervention in a child’s life, the less risk there will be in the long-term. To me that meant if we keep lolly-gagging around and not hitting this obesity problem head on, then we put our kids at greater risk.

I hope that as each of you makes a New Year’s resolution to commit to a healthy lifestyle and that you also resolve to get involved in helping turn this dangerous trend around. We could quote page after page of research articles, but the need is to ACT NOW. Start with yourself and then make a difference where you work, play, shop, etc. We can do it.

Tomorrow will be fun! Log on!

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

Childhood overweight/obesity has increased from 4 percent to almost 19 percent from 1971 to 2003; additionally, another 18 percent were considered at risk of being overweight. That’s an alarming 37 percent of our elementary school-aged children who are either overweight or at risk of being overweight. Unfortunately, Louisiana has one of the highest rates of childhood overweight/obesity in the country (in the top 10).

Note: This graph illustrates the increase in childhood overweight/obesity.

Childhood obesity chart 1971-2004

This is important not only because poor nutrition and health are linked to academic performance, but also overweight children have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight/obese as an adult.

Being overweight significantly increases a person’s risk for developing cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, stroke, hypertension, osteoarthritis and sleep apnea.

As a result, obesity-related healthcare costs in adults range from $98 billion to $129 billion annually.

If children are instilled with health-related information (importance of consumption of fruit, vegetables, whole-grains and low-fat dairy and participation in physical activity), they will likely be able to establish preventive health behaviors that many adults struggle to adopt later in life. Humans are creatures of habit.

Denise Holston


December 11, 2007

Let Them See You Sweat 

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Sweat is a good thing. Living in South Louisiana one does not have to be reminded that sweat is a part of our lives for about 10 months each year. I firmly believe that when you exercise, you need enough intensity to break a sweat. That might take only 30 seconds in July. But working out enough to sweat is a good indicator that you are doing something.

I notice that on the treadmill indoors with air conditioning it takes me five to 10 minutes or so to feel perspiration. I consider it a sign that my body is getting loose and a sign that I can slowly increase the intensity. I start my treadmill workout with a five-minute warm-up, slowly starting from about 3.6 and increasing the intensity to 4.0 over the five minutes. Because I want to maintain a 40-minute walk at 4.0, I feel better able to walk briskly without injury. A little sweat is my indicator.

In the warmer season, sweat is also a good indicator that your body is cooling. You just have to remember to hydrate yourself before, during and after the workout. When someone stops sweating in hot weather, it might be a sign they have overheated. Immediate medical attention is required if that occurs. In hot weather especially, drink plenty of fluids. Good ole water works just fine. However, if you want to follow the advertising and marketing stuff on TV, you can get one of those sports drinks. Too much sugar for me!

I also find that I have a stronger feeling of accomplishment if I have exercised to the extent that I am sweating. When I finished my last workout, because of the unseasonably warm weather, I was sweating profusely even indoors on the treadmill. I felt my workout was successful, even though it was of the same duration and intensity of recent workouts. There is something about sweat that makes you feel like you have accomplished something. Now for a little secret. Some clothes show sweat more than others. Why hide the fact that you are working out? I find that when I wear my gray shirt, it shows the sweat more than the white one. People can look at you with all that sweat showing and say, “Look how hard he/she is working.”

Yes, sweat is good. Most importantly, it shows that you have placed yourself in an exercise situation requiring some effort. We need 20-30 minutes of moderately intense exercise several times a week to maintain good cardiovascular health. Exercise and the resulting sweat are part of a healthy lifestyle.

Tomorrow we will take about variety being the spice of life. You may not want to miss this one.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

When we exercise, we have many chemical reactions going on in the body. In each of those chemical reactions, we lose some energy in the form of heat. As we work harder, we lose more energy as heat, and our body temperature goes up. Sweating helps bring our body temperature back to a normal level.

As we begin an exercise program, our body is not efficient in shifting the blood volume around to the skin to cool our body down as a trained athlete’s is. An athlete who has adapted to keep the body core cool during exercise will divert blood to the skin’s surface more quickly and release heat from the body. At the same time, the sweat glands increase output and cool the body during sweat evaporation. While fit people produce more sweat than sedentary folks, they lose less sodium because more of it is reabsorbed by the body. The result is a more efficient cooler. Dehydration impedes sweating and can result in high body temperature during exercise and increased heart rate. Dehydration can occur before we sense thirst. Symptoms of mild dehydration include increased thirst, dry mouth and sticky saliva, and reduced urine output with dark yellow urine. Even a mild dehydration, from 3% to 7%, can increase heart rate and core temperature in the body when exercising. The sweating response acts to conserve circulating blood volume during exercise.

Those that participate in a normal recreational exercise program can safely replace lost fluid volume by consuming adequate amounts of water before, during and after exercise. In Louisiana’s hot climate, it is a good idea to be aware of symptoms of dehydration when we exercise. Symptoms of moderate dehydration include: extreme thirst, dry appearance inside the mouth, lack of tears, decreased urination, dark urine, light-headedness that is relieved by lying down, irritability or restlessness, skin that feels cool to the touch and a rapid heartbeat.

Symptoms of severe dehydration (even if only one of them is present) include altered behavior, such as severe anxiety, confusion, not being able to stay awake, feeling faint or light-headed. Other symptoms include inability to stand or walk, rapid breathing, weak, rapid pulse, cold, clammy skin or hot, dry skin, little or no urination and, finally, loss of consciousness. Get the person to an emergency room as fast as possible.

Heli Roy


December 10, 2007

Car Trouble

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I have discovered that it is difficult to maintain the momentum of a lifestyle change to better nutrition and more exercise. This past week was the most difficult. The activities of the week – including the duck hunt and two social engagements along with international visitors – put a great deal of pressure on my time. Here’s what I learned as a result. I remained cognizant of the nutrition plan. Even when faced with mountains of food, most of which was not in the healthy category, I limited my portion size and, within reason, stayed with the plan. My exercise program suffered, and I was able to get in only two workouts. Given all this, I did not gain any weight and, while difficult, feel as though the permanency of the lifestyle change is taking effect.

I traveled to Romania this past summer to visit an international program the LSU AgCenter has in place with the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest. I saw fewer obese people there than here, and I noticed one important thing. Europeans walk everywhere. If they tell you the place you are going is only a short distance, watch out. It might be a long walk, in our culture anyway. Perhaps they walk because gas is $5 plus a gallon; maybe they walk because not everyone has a car or two or three as we do. Whatever the reason, they walk. My conclusion is that if you walk more and maintain a somewhat healthy diet, you stand a good chance of maintaining your weight or losing a few pounds.

The week of hunting and entertaining visitors is behind me, and now it’s preparation for the AgCenter’s annual conference and numerous other activities. I will be able to get the exercise program back on the 4-4-4 track and have more discretion on nutrition. Yes, we will all have that bad week, but the most important thing is maintaining our commitment to the program. Make smart choices and exercise.

I have some interesting information to share with you tomorrow chronicling our obesity program.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist’s Response

As we get closer to the holiday season, it is harder to stay with a regular exercise program. We are in a rush to get things done, which might mean we walk less and drive more. Europeans are more used to using public transportation than Americans. European cities tend to be more compact and linked to various transportation systems for easy access. Many European families only own one car, or they might not have a car at all because of few parking spaces and high gasoline prices.

In the United States, the automobile dominates urban travel, accounting for 82 percent of all trips. By contrast, the automobile is used for less than half of trips in Western European countries. Indeed, the Swiss, Swedes, Italians and Austrians use autos for less than 40 percent of their trips.

Conversely, public transport is the least important mode of travel in the United States, used for only 3 percent of urban trips. Other countries use public transport for urban trips more – from 11 percent in Germany, France and Sweden up to 19 percent in Great Britain, 20 percent in Switzerland and 26 percent in Italy.

As for walking, Americans make only 11 percent of their trips by foot compared to about 30 percent for most Western Europeans. The Netherlands and Denmark (at about 20 percent) fall below that average, probably because they use the bicycle more.

Americans' greater use of the automobile is not due primarily to more affluence. With more and better transit services, Europeans obviously have a more attractive alternative to the automobile than Americans. Moreover, the opportunities for walking and bicycling in Europe are superior to those in the United States. That is not simply a matter of topography and population density. A few regions of the United States are as flat and as densely populated as the Netherlands. Yet nowhere in the United States does bicycling even approach the level of importance it holds for the Dutch. Public policies in Europe explicitly encourage not only bicycling but also walking. There is hardly a city in Europe without at least one pedestrian zone, and many cities have extensive districts in which automobile traffic is prohibited.

In Louisiana, the unpredictable weather is one reason people do not walk or bike to work. Europeans use walking and public transportation to get back and forth to school and work. Americans tend to drive their car to work, but then walk or bicycle for recreation. The major thoroughfares in most cities in Louisiana also do not allow for pedestrian or bicycling traffic. The Centers for Disease Control has promoted walk-able cities for years and encourages new housing developments to be pedestrian-friendly. This reduces automobile use for short distances and encourages walking, which is a healthier alternative.

It is harder to keep our energy equation at a balance during the holidays, with all the tempting food available and less chances of being active. But if we make a concerted effort to be more active, we can maintain our balance and not put on any weight.

Read “Good New, Bad News About Holiday Weight Gain” and “Avoid Mall Belly When Shopping.”

Heli Roy

2/10/2009 1:16:36 AM
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