Indian River County Extension Service
                                     1028 20th Pl, Suite D
                                     Vero Beach, FL 32960

Judith A. Wakefield


            January 19 through 25th is National Healthy Weight Week

Now that the Christmas goodies are gone many of us are thinking about losing weight. 

January 19 through 25th is National Healthy Weight Week.  Unfortunately we need to make it National Weight Loss Year!  According to Dr. Richard Carmona, our U.S. Security/Surgeon General, an overweight America is killing itself with excess.   Two out of three adults are overweight and the number of overweight children has jumped by fifty percent.  One fifth of our population is obese. 

He said that obesity is the fastest growing cause of illness and death in the United States.  According to the Center for Disease Control people who are obese are seven times more at risk of become diabetics, six times more at risk of having high blood pressure, twice as likely to have high cholesterol levels, nearly three times more likely to have asthma and four times more likely to have arthritis.  These risks can be reduced with modest lifestyle changes.

We are spending more time in front of computers and televisions rather than doing physical activity.  We are consuming too much sugary drinks, highly processed food and fast-food meals.

If we make efforts to get more exercise and eat healthier food we can reduce our risks.  

The Center for Disease Control recommends 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week to maintain good health and 60 minutes to achieve significant weight loss.  Walking and bicycling are just a couple popular ways we can increase our physical activity.  Dancing, going to a gym, jogging, gardening, playing sports, are just a few other ways to work in physical activity. Try to find something you enjoy and stick with it. There are even exercises you can do setting in a chair.  If you make a commitment to get more exercise and keep it, you will be burning calories, strengthening our heart and our muscles.  

Many people want to try an easy way to lose weight.  Magazines, newspapers and television offer many pills and  programs that guarantee weight loss.  Most of these are frauds.  They may imply that weight can be lost without restricting calories or exercising, may claim to get rid of cellulite and/or imply that a large, fast weight loss is easy, effortless, guaranteed or permanent.  People pay big bucks for these products.  But they donít work but when you try to get your money back you canít. These companies move around a lot.  They are more interested in our money than in helping people lose weight. In addition, some of the ingredients in weight loss pills have been found to be dangerous, ephedra is one example.

The diet meal replacement beverages can work if you can stick with them.  Many people find that they are still hungry and eat food along with the beverages.  This decreases their effectiveness.  The meal replacement beverages should be used for 2 meals a day  along with one nutritionally balanced meal of ďrealĒ food.  This regular meal is important so you donít feel deprived and go off the diet.  Exercise should also be increased. 

Diets that restrict certain foods are hard to stick to.  They are usually not nutritionally balanced and once you lose weight and go back to the old way of eating the weight will come back on.

Those that are high in protein and low in carbohydrates usually cause a water weight loss instead of a weight loss from decreasing fat.  The weight comes right back on.

Programs that provide a balanced, but reduced calorie diet along with exercise are a healthy  way to lose weight.  The healthiest way to lose weight it to lose one to two pounds a week. 

A popular saying says ďNothing tastes as good as being slim feels.Ē  It takes a commitment to change how we eat.  Sure we can go to fast food restaurants and have a large burger, fries and a shake.  This can total up to 1560 calories, 2000 milligrams of sodium, and 28 grams of saturated fat for just one meal!  Itís no wonder weíve gotten fat!   These totals are much more than anyone should get in a single meal.  The fast food restaurants do offer other choices.   We can get the smaller size burger, a salad and diet soda and save 1000 calories at just one meal!  We have to get ourselves in the frame of mind that no, we canít eat everything we used to want and lose the weight.  Weíve got to learn to make better choices.  The fast food restaurants have nutrition information concerning their products that can help you make better decisions.  This information are also available over the Internet.

Get in the habit of looking at the nutrition labeling on foods you buy.  Check to see the serving size and how many calories are in one serving.  Train yourself to eat the size servings the labeling provides.  Itís awfully easy to eat right out of a bag or box of snacks and eat several servings worth and consume many more calories than we realize.   You can save calories by substituting fresh fruits and vegetables as snack foods rather than chips, etc.

Use lower fat and no fat versions of dairy foods and cooking methods for meat that donít add fat.  Keep in mind that breaded meats will have more fat and sodium than those that are not breaded. 

Eat more fruits and vegetables.  They are low in fat and high in taste, fiber and color.  Try to eat one more serving of fruit/vegetables per meal than you used to have.  Go light on the butter/margarine and sauces.  Choose the lower calorie versions of salad dressings and when eating out have the dressing on the side.  Try the technique of dipping your fork in the dressing and then into the greenery.  You get the taste of the dressing with each bite and eat a lot less dressing. 

In order to become and stay slim we have to re-train ourselves to make better food choices and become more physically active. Losing weight and increasing daily exercise is especially helpful for those with high blood pressure and diabetes.  Itís great for the ego too.   Itís not too late to make a New Yearís resolution to eat smarter and exercise more.  Weíll all be the better for it.