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Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011 05:52 am

Get back to basics

All you really need to win the battle of the bulge is to eat simply and get moving


A peek inside the typical kitchen cupboard will give you a short history of American weight-loss fads. Every promise for a skinnier life, from fat-free to high-protein to reduced-carbohydrate foods, is reflected in a product tucked in the back of the shelves gathering dust.

“People are spinning, they’re latching onto gimmicks and many aren’t getting anywhere,” says Dr. Ann Kulze, a physician who specializes in nutrition and weight loss.

The numbers prove her point.

Only five percent of the 50 million Americans who go on diets every year manage to keep the weight off. And, despite the flood of low-carbohydrate, low-fat, weight-loss promoting foods on the market, more than 60 percent of the population is overweight.

Instead of looking for the “silver bullet,” you’ve got to get back to basics.”  As you discard the fads and embrace a common-sense routine you’ll feel better, look better and improve your chances for a healthy future.

Diet basics

The fundamentals of weight loss are immutable. You have to eat fewer calories than you burn. Unfortunately some diets distort the reality by claiming you can eat all you want, except for one food category.

For your good health and steady, slow weight loss, Kulze offers three messages:

1. Eat carbohydrates that are rich in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes.

Vegetables are essential to combat your struggle with weight loss,” says Kulze. “Vegetables have bulk to suppress your appetite. You can go through a plate piled high with broccoli and be full on 150 calories,” she says.

2. Eat lean proteins such as fish, shellfish, skinless poultry, low-fat dairy, beans, legumes, soy, nuts and seeds.

“[But] Look to see what else is in the [protein] package, such as fiber from beans. Select protein that’s low in fat and especially saturated fat,” she recommends.

3. Include healthy fats in your diet. The fat-free diet craze of the last decade didn’t transform Americans into a svelte nation. A small amount of fat in your meals is satisfying, so you eat less.

Consume monounsaturated fat which comes from olive oil, canola oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, but don’t overdo it. “Fats are a concentrated form of energy.”

Exercise basics
“When people tell me they’re too busy to get exercise, I tell them they’re too busy to not exercise,” says Dr. David Pratt, medical director for General Electric.  However, the more complicated the regimen the more likely you are to find excuses to miss a session. If you have to squeeze into Spandex and drive to the gym, you’re likely to quit much too soon,  according to Pratt.

His solution is simple.

“We tell people to get 30 minutes of motion a day. It can include parking a couple of blocks from work, climbing the stairs instead of using the elevator, walking across the office to talk with a colleague rather than using email.  Put activity into your life in small ways every day. “    If you can’t motivate yourself, grab colleagues or friends and take a walk or play a game of volleyball.

“Exercise is more likely to be fun and frequent if it’s done as a group,” Pratt says.

Stress-management basics
The bad news is stress doesn’t go away. It’s part of life.

The good news is you can deal with stress through a variety of simple strategies. Doing so brings physical and psychological benefits.

“When you manage stress you prove you have control of one area in your life. That’s good because people feel so out of control,” says

Piscatella, co-author of “Take a Load off Your Heart,” (Workman Publishing, 2003). You’ll also reduce a major risk factor for heart disease.

“Stress undermines cardiovascular health. Stress increases your blood pressure regardless of your cholesterol levels and diet,” Piscatella says.

Exercising will alleviate a lot of your stress. When you engage in physical activity your body builds up endorphins so you’re in a better mood.    Whether you choose walking, running, biking or bowling, the activity is less important than doing it consistently, so choose something you enjoy and will stay with.

Breathing. Everyone breathes, but when you turn off the computer, take the telephone off the hook and take a few deep breaths with your eyes closed so you can clear your mind of a dozen distractions. It’s free, fast and effective.

Unplug.  Set aside time each day to turn off your cell phone, walk away from your computer screen and relax.   The world will not stop if you are out of reach for 30 minutes while you exercise, practice deep breathing or just close your eyes and let your mind wander to a peaceful place.

Health by the numbers
Four easy-to-remember numbers – 0, 5, 10 and 25 – are all you need to follow for good health.

0 is for smoke cessation. If you smoke, stop.

5 is the minimum of number of servings of fruit and vegetables you should be eating every day.

10 for the 10,000 steps (walking, running, doing errands) to take daily.

25 or less should be your body mass index (a ratio of your weight to height).

To find your BMI, multiply your weight in pounds by 700. Divide the result by your height in inches. Then divide again by your height in inches. 

Looking for ways to get active?

Check out these local organizations – and also watch the classes and workshop section in IT’s classified pages for specific opportunities.

Springfield Ski Club

Springfield Bicycle Club
daily rides all over Springfield

Springfield Triathlon Club

Springfield Road Runners Club

Nelson Center – public ice rink

Springfield Park District

Midwest Ballroom, Swing, and Social Dance Club

Senior Services of Central Illinois

St. John’s Hospital

Prairie Heart – Center for Living


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