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New Year, New You 2010: Focus on losing weight

The focus of week two for the New Year New You 2010 challenge is weight loss. With 65 percent of adults either overweight or obese it is no surprise that the average person consumes 200-300 calories more than they did 30 years ago and are less physically active. Most weight gain happens slowly and steadily, almost unnoticed until one is 5, 10, 20 or more pounds overweight. Consuming 100 calories daily more than is expended over a period of a year can result in a weight gain of 10 pounds. Small changes if made consistently over time can make a big difference.

Health experts recommend for individuals overweight or obese to set a goal to lose at least 10 percent of their current body weight at a rate of 1-2 pounds per week. For an individual weighing 200 pounds, a weight loss goal of 20 pounds in 15-20 weeks would be realistic. Weight loss has health benefits of lowering risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer.

Successful weight loss starts with an evaluation of current eating habits and physical activity. Take time to write down the answers to a few questions: What do I eat now? How much do I eat? What times do I eat? Do I eat because I am tired, bored, sad or because it is there? What am I doing for exercise? How many minutes do I get in a week?

By answering these questions and evaluating your eating habits, you can identify small simple changes to implement and make part of your daily routine. Measurable changes or goals are best. For example, "I will eat a healthy breakfast daily to include a serving of fruit, milk and cereal/bread." Or "I will consume water at afternoon break daily instead of a bottle of pop."

Ten weight loss tips are included in this week's video that can be seen on CSi cable, channel 58, or on Daktel, channel 16, at 7 p.m. Monday-Friday or checked out at Alfred Dickey Public Library. The handout can be picked up at the library or printed from the Jamestown Hospital Web site.

Review the tips and pick one to two areas to work on at first. Once you are consistent with a new habit, add another one to work on. It is common for individuals wanting to lose weight to think too big, trying to make multiple big changes all at once and get overwhelmed. Small changes can have huge results if done consistently over time.

The first tip is to move daily. Start with 10 minutes a day and work up to the goal of 150 minutes per week. The second tip is impact your portion sizes. Read food labels for the appropriate serving size or use a fist-sized portion as a guide for an entrée. Eating from smaller dishes and limiting second servings will reduce calories consumed.

Another tip is to enjoy pleasant conversation at the table with no television or other distractions. Distractions result in most individuals eating larger servings or additional calories. This is true for eating at your desk at work while working on the computer also. Take 20 minutes to eat and enjoy your food, savoring each bite.

Eat breakfast daily as a way to fuel your body and prevent mid-morning cravings. Call it a pre-lunch snack if you need to, but have a small something. Follow that with a satisfying noon meal and a lighter evening meal. A crunchy, healthy afternoon snack may hit the spot. Never get too hungry but make sure not to eat just because it is there. Eat what tastes good (and should be nutritious as well).

Select whole and natural foods with short ingredient lists -- such as fruit, vegetables (fresh, frozen, or canned -- never fried), whole grains (at least 2 grams of fiber per serving), beans and legumes, nuts (no more than one-fourth cup per day), lean protein (skinless poultry, unbreaded seafood and other lean meat per week), and fat-free dairy products. These foods are usually lower in calories and fat and high in nutrients. Keep junk food out of your grocery cart and thus out of your house -- if you don't have it available to you, you can't eat it. Be aware of calories in beverages. One can easily drink a meal's worth of calories in (nutrient poor, calorie dense) beverages. Read the labels for calories per container. Many beverages contain multiple servings in a bottle or cup.

When you have a craving or are offered a calorie rich, fat and sugar-laden treat savor a single bite or two. Your taste buds will be satisfied with a couple bites or a small serving. Remember that your stomach can't taste food -- chew small bites well for the most pleasurable taste sensation.

The average person needs about 1,800-2,000 calories a day -- which equates to about 300-500 calories for each of three meals with about 300-500 calories in healthy snacks. For a more accurate calculation, go to

For this week you can set a goal for weight loss or weight maintenance for the next seven weeks of the challenge. Women should aim for about 5 pounds and men can aim for about 10 pounds. Good luck this week. We will report weekly winners for week one next week.

(Larissa Musgrave is a licensed registered dietitian at Innovis Health, Jamestown and Valley City and Mercy Hospital, Valley City)