This March, Get Fit And Slim With Good Nutrition

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Every year, thousands choose weight loss as their resolution for the new year. Although many give up on this goal after a few months or even weeks, don't let the idea of a slimmer waistline fade from your mind. With a renewed sense of dedication and some expert nutrition tips, a smaller pant size can be a reality.

National Nutrition Month, March, is a good time to recommit to that ever-popular weight loss goal.

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Check the "% Daily Value" listing on food products. Fat -- total and saturated, sodium and cholesterol should not exceed 5 percent in a product in order to fit a healthy diet.

Here are some suggestions for making weight loss a reality:

  • Set a reasonable goal

Before beginning a weight loss plan, establish attainable goals. One small, realistic goal each week will be much easier to tackle than one drastic change. After achieving one goal, such as reducing calories, build up to the next one.

  • Get plenty of fruits and vegetables

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends eating at least five servings of fruits and five servings of vegetables each day. A good source of potassium, fruits and vegetables are also low in sodium and fat. Studies also show that a diet packed with fruits and vegetables can help prevent heart disease and lower the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.

  • Reduce fat, sodium and cholesterol

Lowering the intake of these items will help keep your heart healthy in addition to assisting with weight loss. To help make wise food choices, check nutrition labels on the foods you buy. It is especially important to look for the "% Daily Value" in categories of total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. Foods with 5 percent or less of these nutrients fit into a healthy diet. Be especially watchful when purchasing frozen or canned foods, as they are particularly high in sodium.

  • Eat at home

Prepare meals at home for a healthier and cost-saving alternative to dining out. Cooking at home allows better diet control by substituting low-fat and low-calorie versions of ingredients. Some examples include switching to low-fat milk and cheeses, using cooking spray instead of butter, and substituting low-fat dressing for sour cream.

  • Measure food portions

Often the amount of food we eat doesn't correspond with the label's suggested serving. To accurately track calories, measure the serving size according to the label. This could add up to many more calories than originally estimated. Knowing the accurate serving size will help you avoid extra calories.

  • Avoid fad diets

Steer clear of fad diets that claim immediate and revolutionary results. If the diet sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Diets that forbid certain foods or food groups qualify as fad diets. Instead of food-specific diets, try making changes in overall eating habits to reach weight loss goals.

  • Choose healthy snacks

Instead of reaching for the potato chips, consider healthy alternatives such as fresh fruit and vegetables. Served with a light dressing, these items make healthy and filling snacks.

  • Watch what you eat at restaurants

Food portions often double or triple in size at restaurants, resulting in overeating. To avoid this trap, try splitting a meal with a friend, or eat half of your meal and take the rest home.

  • Don't rush

It takes nearly 15 minutes for the stomach to let the brain know that it's full. Rushing through meals only makes us eat more and enjoy the food less.

  • Be active

Physical activity is an important component to weight loss and healthy living. Try to get at least 20 to 30

minutes of exercise three days a week. If you're just getting started, take it slow. Any increase in physical activity will greatly benefit your health.

  • Get support

Consult a physician, dietitian or nutritionist before beginning a new diet. Health care personnel can make recommendations based on personal health history, lifestyle and medical research. This provides a more customized approach to dieting. Additionally, support groups can offer motivation and advice to help reach weight loss goals.

Although weight loss can be challenging, don't give up or become discouraged. Recognize that it's OK to make mistakes occasionally. With the support of family and friends, eating healthier can be a resolution that you keep this year.

Mark Studdard is director of dietary services for Payson Regional Medical Center. Sources for this article include: Centers for Disease Control, www.cdc.gov; American Heart Association, www.americanheart.gov; and American Dietetics Association, www.eatright.org.

Sources of support

  • The Take Off Pounds Sensibly program has a Tuesday meeting at 6:30 p.m., at the Powell House, 806 W. Longhorn Road, and a Thursday meeting at 7:30 a.m., at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 1000 N. Easy St. There is also a meeting in Pine, Wednesdays at 7:45 a.m. at the Pine LDS church. Call Ilona Swenson at (928) 472-3331 for the Thursday morning Payson meeting; Barbara Anderson at (928) 474-6528 or Naomi Wilson at (928) 468-8577 for the Tuesday night Payson meeting; or (928) 476-3024 for the Pine Wednesday morning meeting.
  • Overeaters Anonymous is not a large organization in Payson, there are only three meetings: 1 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday and 3:30 p.m. on Thursday. All meetings are held at the Manzanita Courtyard Apartments recreation room, 809 W. Longhorn Road. For more information contact Gail at (928) 472-7132 or Mary Jo at (928) 472-4330.
  • Payson Athletic Club is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday; 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday; and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday. For more information, call (928) 474-0916.
  • Curves for Women is open from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; and 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday. For more information, call (928) 474-9797.
  • Club USA is open from 4:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call (928) 474-2582.

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