Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Is a 3-ounce Meat Portion Recommended?

Should any type of meat or poultry that is consumed be only 3 oz, or does it depend on whether it's steak or chicken? I've read that it should be no larger than the palm of the hand. Is that true? Thanks, Danielle H.

Dear Danielle,

A 3-oz portion of a "protein" food (usually an animal product) is often what is recommended for those on a weight loss, low-fat, or low-cholesterol diet. It's enough to provide protein and other nutrients for anyone who eats two servings per day. There is no reason not to eat 4, 5, or 6 ounces if you are not overweight and you are hungry enough to eat this much once in a while. The problem is that many people often eat 1/2 pound hamburgers or 12 ounce steaks, or take second helpings all of the time and they are overweight or suffer from elevated cholesterol levels or other health problems that large servings of meat will not help.

Whether it's steak, chicken, pork, or fish, about 3 ounces provides about 20 grams of protein--enough to bring the daily protein intake--within an otherwise balanced diet--to 60-80 grams which is what the average person needs. Larger servings add unnecessary calories, fat, cholesterol, etc and over time become an unhealthy habit. A good way for most people to gauge a 3-oz portion (without weighing everything you eat) is to estimate about the size of the palm of your hand, or about the size of a deck of cards.

Monday, June 29, 2009

How Do I Know My Vitamin Needs?

I am a 55 year old woman, 5'2" tall, 200 pounds. I am starting a 1500-1600 calorie level diet. Where can I find the vitamin needs for someone my age? --Claudia G.

Dear Claudia,

That's great you are concerned with a healthy diet as much as you are losing weight! The daily reference intakes can be found in many places, including food labels. The way the needs were established was by doing studies on a wide range of individuals. The need to prevent deficiencies and establish healthy blood levels was calculated. Then a substantial margin was added, so the levels published cover about 97% of the population who are healthy. Because you are over age 50 some of the levels are a bit different.

Here is a comprehensive table with needs for nutrients at different life stages, including upper safe limits, food sources, and special considerations.

Feel free to let me know if you have any questions about a specific nutrient and I'll try to get you the information you are looking for :)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Am I Eating Too Many Bananas?

I am a 30 year old man, about 6 feet tall and 160 pounds. Daily, I eat 4 bananas (for the potassium and also because, I love them!), munch on almonds, drink a glass of pure pomegranate juice, and 6-8 glasses of water. Is there such a thing as eating too many bananas? --Matthew N.

Dear Matthew,

Because of the fact that you are not overweight, it would seem you are not eating too much of anything. In one scenario, eating too much of something would mean eating too many calories and would cause you to be overweight.

In another scenario, however, eating many servings of one food keeps you from eating other foods. You may have an unbalanced diet if you eat four bananas a day because it's less likely you'll be eating other fruits. Sometimes people eat so much of one healthy food (such as people who drink 8 glasses of milk each day) that they push other healthy foods out of their diet. This can mean you are eating too much of a food, even one that is considered to be good for you such as almonds or bananas.

Consider alternating bananas for other fruits and even vegetables. Limit almonds to 2 ounces per day and try, at least, having another variety of nuts. Consider whether you are including protein sources such as lean meats, poultry and/or fish; vegetables; whole grains, and dairy products to balance out your diet and assure an intake of all the essential nutrients.

FYI, potassium is found in many foods we commonly eat (most fruits and vegetables, dairy, potatoes, even coffee and tea) and I have never seen anyone with a potassium deficiency unless they are on certain medications that cause their body to excrete potassium.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Can Vitamins Affect My Immune System?

I started taking One a Day Teen Advantage for Her vitamins for about 6 months but I notice everytime I go away on a church retreat or anywhere where I spend the night and I don't take my vitamin that weekend I get sick with fevers nausea and other things. Is not taking the vitamin affecting my immune system? Marie C.

Dear Marie,

There's not much chance that skipping your vitamin pill for a few days should cause any noticeable difference at all in how you feel. Most vitamin deficiencies take weeks to develop, and that would be assuming that you were not getting any in the foods you were eating!

If, however, you notice you DO feel better when you take the vitamin, try taking them with you wherever you go and taking one every day :)

Monday, June 22, 2009

How Many Calories Do I Need While Training and Breastfeeding?

I am 5'3'' and 125lbs. I have a 10 month old and am still breastfeeding. I am back to my pre-pregnancy size, but want to lose 10-15 lbs more and really get toned. I am going to be running a 1/2 marathon in October, so I've been doing cardio (walking/running/dancing) 4x's per week, and some light strength training w/lots of pilates 2x's per week. I'm eating pretty healthy (lots of whole grains, veggies, fruits, ect)...how many calories should I be taking in to lose weight, but maintain my milk supply for breastfeeding? Ex- today I ate 1770 calories, and ran 2.6 miles (I usually avg around that 4x's per week). I want to lose 1-2 lbs per week. --Jessica S.

Dear Jessica,

Congratulations on your lofty goals and especially on breastfeeding, which is a healthy decision for both you and your baby :)

For someone in your shape (and not knowing your age) I would estimate you burn at least 2200 calories as a base, an additional 500 calories breastfeeding, and probably 300 calories for each 1/2 hour of exercise.... so you could be easily burning 3000 calories per day. This means that a 2000 calorie intake will lead to a 2 pounds per week weight loss. I would not recommend going below about 2000 calories per day while you are performing all these feats!

The fact is, you need not only calories, but also protein, calcium, and all the other major nutrients to keep up your strength for training, and to continue making the healthiest breastmilk for baby.Be sure you're following the guidelines for healthy eating, including beans/meat/eggs or another good source of protein, and 3-4 servings of dairy in addition to the whole grains fruits and veggies.

In fact, it's probably more difficult for someone in your position to get in the foods you need than to keep your calorie level low enough to lose weight. It's smart to eliminate "empty calories" (Foods that provide lots of calories with little nutrition, like soda, candy bars, and fried foods) when trying to lose weight and making sure not to eliminate food groups like carbohydrates that can be providing you with necessary B complex vitamins and energy.

It sounds like you're doing a great job. Good luck with the half-marathon!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Are There Any Good Diets That Will Help Me Lose Weight Fast?

I wanted to know if there are any good diets that will help me lose weight fast. I get discouraged very easily when I'm not losing. I especially crave sweets. When I'm frustrated with the slow weight loss I just chuck the whole idea and gain the weight back... what can I do? --Denise S.

Dear Denise,

I'm pretty sure you know the answer to this.... And my answer is "No" there aren't any good, fast weight loss diets.

Any diet you go on will help you lose weight in the short run but you know you'll just gain it back again. Instead of a diet, come up with some healthy eating goals that are very do-able! Like "This week I will eat a fruit one time every day when I crave a sweet"... just once each day! It will take time to train your brain to be thinking healthy but it will happen. Just take it slow. Think about how you are feeling when you crave sweets and instead of fighting with your inner child (who always throws a tantrum and screams YES I WANT THAT NOW!) ask yourself what it is you really want: what is it that the sweet will give you?
Is it comfort? If so is there something else that will comfort you, like a phone call to a friend?
Is it boredom? If so is there a good book you've been wanting to read that you could pick up with a piece of fruit :)

Weight loss is difficult--that's why so many people are overweight. The best way to get the extra pounds off is slow and steady, by developing new and healthy habits. I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this if you haven't heard it before: There are no good fast diets ;)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Can You Gain Weight While You Sleep?

We have a big argument at work. Some people claim that just before you go to bed if you eat something with high calories, then weigh yourself and immediately go to sleep, then when you wake up in the morning you will weigh more than you did before sleeping. I think this is not possible since where would this extra weight come from? So my question is this, is it possible to weigh more on waking up in the morning than you did when you went to sleep? Thanks, Ray C.

Hi Ray,

What a fun question! I agree with you and have never known anyone to weigh more in the morning.

Where the weight would come from is just the weight of the food, not the calories from the food. There's also a chance extra water could be retained if the meal was very high in sodium, but that would be gone as soon as the person emptied their bladder in the morning.

One origin of this idea is the fact that your metabolism reduces slightly while you sleep because you are not moving around. So there are some advisors (in particular personal trainers) who recommend not eating before you go to bed on the theory those calories are less likely to be used up (especially if you have a big meal immediately before bed) and are more likely to be stored as fat. Most dietitians advise not to eat too much, too late, but having a light snack in the evening fits into a healthy eating plan for many people.

Technically, if you weigh yourself, eat a big meal, and then weigh yourself immediately again you will weigh more simply because the food is sitting in your stomach. The scale reads the weight the same whether you are holding a cheeseburger in your hand or you gulp it down into your stomach. However, food is broken down in the body within a few hours and as soon as you urinate or otherwise dispense of any waste, the scale will register a weight loss in the same way.
Just because the scale says you weigh more after drinking a quart of water, for example, doesn't mean you've "gained weight" as in "deposited fat weight".

Bottom line, the night time meal will have been completely absorbed by morning. You must have a 3500 calorie meal in order to register one pound of (fat) weight gain and this is pretty unlikely. In the unlikely event a person weighs
more in the morning it will come off after emptying their bladder.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Why Have I Stopped Losing Weight?

I have been dieting and exercising for about 4 months and I've lost 15 lbs. I am 30 yrs old, 5'8" and 162 lbs. In the last 3 weeks I have been exercising 6 days a week for about 30 minutes a day, either with boot camp-type interval training or an elliptical machine. I'm eating about 1200-1350 calories a day. The past 3 weeks my weight loss has slowed and I even gained a pound the first day of my period. What would cause me to gain weight?
I've had a weight problem since I was 13 or so and my dream is to be 140-145. I have never really had success on diets until recently. I've been tracking my calories and I usually eat 3 meals about 350-400 calories and a 100-200 calorie snack each day. Lately I've been really hungry in between meals. My mom thinks I'm not eating enough. I don't want to eat too many calories though. I am so frustrated that I feel like giving up but I know I can't do that. --Carrie E.

Dear Carrie,
YAY for you for not considering giving up as an option :) I have some very clear answers for you to consider and I think you'll be happy to have some direction.

First of all for your height/weight/age and recent activity level you are burning over 2000 calories a day. Your calorie intake is so low that your body is now compensating to "save yourself" (as if you were a starving caveman!) You started out losing weight very quickly on this low calorie diet, but your body doesn't want you to waste away so it's slowing its metabolism. It sounds counter-intuitive, but by bringing your calorie level up to 1600-1800 level (Mom is right, again) your body will feel safe enough to raise the metabolism again and you will be able to lose weight slowly and in a healthy way, and not feel hungry so often.

Second, your weight reflects simply your weight, and not your body composition. Working out heavily with weights can increase the water weight in your muscle, just as premenstrually we often retain more water and the scale says "You weigh more". The scale would say "You weigh more" if you were holding a 16 oz bottle of water in your hand...it wouldn't say "hey, put down that pound of water--that doesn't count!" It doesn't know why you weigh this much. I wouldn't be surprised if you've gained a pound or two of muscle after weeks of boot camp either. So you really can't be putting all your measurements of success on the number the scale tells you.

My advice is to keep up the exercises you enjoy doing and think about how good you feel when this is a regular part of your life. If you are exercising only to lose weight it is likely you will eventually resent "having to do the exercise" and you'll stop. If you are exercising because you like it and feel good, you'll keep going for years! I would suggest continuing your healthy meal plan but increasing the calories to 400-500 per meal and add another snack as well (either between meals or evening) for a total of 1400 mimimum calories to 1900 maximum.

Taking the healthy eating and exercise routines and making these your priority in the long run--instead of how many pounds a week you lose--will serve you best. Keep a chart of your weight a few times a week and look back on it over several months: See that you are 10 pounds lighter than you used to be--not that you haven't lost a pound this week. In the overall time you learn to eat healthier, even if you lose 2 pounds a month you'll have reached your goal in a year! I know you probably want it faster than that, but it'll be easier to live your life if you are making new habits instead of going on a diet to lose weight. The results will be long term instead of "I lost 2 pounds and then got too hungry and stopped the diet" or "I lost 2 pounds and then got sick of exercising". The weight will be off once and for all and you'll never have to go on a diet again!

Finally, think about how your thoughts influence your weight and if your beliefs are interfering with your process. If foremost in your mind you keep hearing "I've always had a weight problem" and "I've never been successful with diets" then you keep believing this. Start sending yourself a new message and repeat it often (and I mean 50 times a day) during the day. Something that resonates with you like "I am developing life-long healthy habits so I can live in my dream body for life". Telling yourself this new message will eventually turn into a new belief and this will in turn become the way you view yourself and the way you live.

Enjoy your new lifestyle with healthy eating habits and invigorating exercise and give your mind and body time to form into the best you that you can be in the years to come!
Please let me know if you have any more questions and keep me posted on how it's going!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Are There Any Supplements That Will Help Lower My Cholesterol?

I'm a 54 year old woman who's a little overweight and my doctor just put me on medication to lower my cholesterol. Are there any herbal supplements I can take to help get it down so I can get off the medication? --Lisa A.

Dear Lisa,

I'm glad ot hear you are so motivated to lower your cholesterol! How much diet will affect your level depends on how elevated it is. If your total cholesterol level is 240 (the target is usually under 200) you may have a good chance of getting off the medications with a little weight loss and a lower fat diet. If your level is 400, then it's more than likely a genetic condition that will never be able to be resolved by your diet. Some people just have bodies that make too much cholesterol and medication is necessary to prevent the cardiac complications that you're at risk for.

I don't know of any herbal supplements that lower cholesterol, but I do know of one product I've seen help a lot of people ... Metamucil. This fiber supplement, promoted to help 'regularity', is made from a type of fiber that binds to bile (which is made in your body partly from cholesterol) and drags it out through your digestive tract, eliminating a portion of it instead of allowing it to recirculate back for re-use. Bile is an important aid in fat digestion, but if you eliminate more of it, your body will just make more and it will use up more cholesterol in the process. Metamucil is a great fiber supplement and there are almost no situations that contraindicate taking it (except for maybe recent intestinal surgery).

The fiber in it helps you have regular and easy bowel movements, the higher fiber intake may reduce the chance of developing colon cancer, it keeps you full between meals, and may help normalize blood sugar levels. It comes flavored, sugar-free, and unflavored (you can mix it into juice). You start with one serving a day and work your way up to three (when your body adjusts, gradually, to the side effects of increased fiber intake) and many people have reduced their cholesterol by 20 or 30 mg/dl using this product.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Are Vitamin Pills a Waste of Money?

I don't eat a totally balanced diet and, because I have trouble swallowing large pills, I take Walgreen's brand of inexpensive multi-vitamins that are very small but contain at least the RDA. I can take them for 6 months everyday or not take them at all and I notice no difference. So I wonder, do these kinds of supplements really do any good or am I just wasting my money? Thanks, Lee M.

That's an excellent question, Lee!
Because you admit that you don't eat a balanced diet, taking an inexpensive multi-vitamin to meet the daily value for most vitamins and minerals is absolutely great 'health insurance'. You won't feel amazingly better just because your body functions normally. However, you will feel amazingly awful if you end up with any type of vitamin deficiency!

It's not too common for people who have access to food in this country to experience any severe vitamin deficiency unless they have other underlying problems. But keeping a constant ideal level of vitamins in your body (and minerals, too) will be great insurance in the event you have any kind of illness that keeps you from eating well for a period of time or one that stresses your body to use additional nutrients (even as simple as the flu or a car accident can push you right into a compromised nutritional status).

I say definitely keep taking the multi-vitamin, unless you would rather start eating healthy (see http://www.mypyramid.gov for a great guideline) and getting the nutrients you need through food--an even better idea :)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Can A Supplement Help Me Gain Weight?

My question is actually about gaining weight as opposed to losing it. I am about 6'2 and I am too skinny. My question is, can that nutritional drink product called Boost help me gain weight and what is recommended amount to drink. I am a light eater. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Andy K.

Dear Andy,

Yes, the product called Boost is effective to help people with a limited appetite get in more calories more easily. These supplemental beverages (including ensure, carnation instant breakfast drink, and the store brand called Equate) usually contain 250 calories per can as well as protein, vitamins and minerals. Some also contain dietary fiber. One can per day will help you gain 1/2 pound per week. If you can tolerate two per day without getting bloated, this would likely be optimal. There are also the "plus" lines (Boost Plus and Ensure Plus) which contain 350 calories per can, and some that have even 450 calories per can, in case your ability to take in fluids is limited. Be sure to check with your physician if you have any conditions that require a special diet. Many of these drinks are made especially for people on dietary restrictions and you can find supplemental drinks that are low protein, high protein, lower in sugar, etc to meet your physiological needs in case of medical necessity.

Some other supplements you can check for in your local pharmacy or grocery store come in juice-box packaging and taste more like juice, if you get tired of the milky drinks (one is called Boost Breeze). Many of the companies have websites where you can download recipes to make higher calorie soups, puddings, and shakes with these formulas, and how you can keep interesting flavors going to prevent getting bored of the daily cans.

These supplements are always a good option for anyone to keep up a good nutritional intake when their intake of food is compromised: think illness, dental procedures, or even stress that could temporarily reduce your ability to eat as well as you should be eating.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Weight Loss at Age 44

I am 44 years old, 5 feet tall. I am a full time mom and am always running around with little time for myself. I quit smoking 2 years ago and gained about 20 pounds (at the time I weighed approximately 123 and was moderately active). I am still moderately active, but I cannot get rid of the weight. I know I snack and probably eat incorrectly. I'd like to know if there is a resource for a healthy, easy to prepare meal plan that can reduce my caloric intake enough to lose weight, without causing my body to go into starvation mode. Any assistance you could give me would be greatly appreciated! thanks, Christine T.

Hi, Christine,

It's great that you are looking for a healthy meal plan and are ready to lose weight the smart way! And especially great that you quit smoking... congratulations to you, that is a huge accomplishment, so I know you'll be able to follow through with your weight loss goals.

The best site I can recommend for a healthy diet plan is http://www.mypyramid.gov.This is the food pyramid site and it's been updated to include lots of activities to help you design and follow a healthy and balanced diet for weight loss.

Another huge help is starting to keep a food diary. Since you know you snack "incorrectly", as you say, you are probably very aware of things you eat that aren't going to help you lose weight. Sometimes you don't have to take the time to research, plan, and follow an exact diet... you might just be able to write down everything you eat, and find that this leads to a new behavior: thinking about things before you eat them. Often this leads to easy weight loss right away! You go to grab a candy bar at the drugstore and stop to think, "Hey, I don't really want to do that! I know this will be adding 300 calories to my diet today and keep me from gaining weight!"

The food guide pyramid site will suggest a calorie level to follow based on your height, weight, age, and activity level. Here's a good guideline to keep in mind when high calorie foods start to tempt you: for every 100 calories you can bypass each day this will add up to a loss of nearly one pound a month. Deciding not to buy a candy bar leads to avoiding 300 calories and that day you would potentially contribute to a 3 pound weight loss by the end of the month!

Good luck with your healthy weight loss!

Monday, June 8, 2009

How Can I Gain Weight?

Hi there, I've always been naturally skinny and I want to put on weight. Before I start putting on muscle mass I want to gain some weight in fat. I saw some carbohydrate powders on www.myprotein.co.uk, called Maltodextrin and a Glucose scottish oats powder . They have around 350 calories and 80 grams of carbs per 100gram serving. I was wondering if I would be able to use these to gain weight before I start weight training as they are relatively cheap so I could have a serving 2-3 times a day. Thanks, Michael R.

Hi Michael,
You sure can use these to gain weight--anything with calories will contribute to weight gain. You'll want to aim for 500 extra calories per day for each pound per week you'd like to gain, so two servings will do nicely.

You might prefer finding a food you enjoy that you can eat in relatively high-calorie amounts, such as a milkshake. The upside is that real foods will be generally less expensive and taste better than these formulas.

One good-tasting formula is Carnation Instant Breakfast Drink. You can buy powdered packages and stir them into a glass of whole milk for nearly 300 calories per serving. They come in a few flavors and are relatively inexpensive, normally used as a breakfast replacement for teenagers who don't have time to eat as they run out of the house, late for school! They also provide a good amount of protein and some vitamins and minerals. The formulas you are considering may not have much more than just calories, and if you are underweight this is sometimes an indication you may be lacking some nutrients from your diet.

In the future, by the way, (when you are ready to start building muscle) I would recommend avoiding protein supplements, as large amounts of protein (like 300 grams per day) have been shown to lead to over-stressing the kidneys and potentially causing damage. Simply eating an additional 15 grams of protein per day (available in 2 glasses of milk) can help you build up to a pound of muscle per week--along with a lot of weight lifting of course!

Be sure to continue eating at least 3 balanced meals per day to get the nutrition you need while slowly gaining the weight you'd like. I would aim for about one pound per week consistently as this is a reasonable and healthy goal.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Do I Need To Lower My Lipid Level Right Now?

My cholesterol is 230 and my triglyceride reading is at 351. Is there a big worry to lower that immediately or can I kinda go at a slow pace and stay away from fatty foods?

William B.

Hello William,

It looks like your cholesterol is high and your triglycerides are as well.
Depending on your age, doctors are usually quick to want to see the cholesterol and triglyceride levels lowered ASAP. The longer you have excess fats traveling in your bloodstream, the more they can clog the arteries and eventually lead to a possible heart event.

High triglycerides actually are more a result of high carbohydrate intake than fat intake--particularly sweets and alcohol affect this level. If you were not fasting at the time of the blood test, the level may in fact be much lower.

At levels only slightly higher than yours is currently, there is also a concern of developing pancreatitis, a very painful condition that can recur in people with high triglyceride levels.

These are some good reasons to get on the ball right now to lower your levels--choosing a lower fat diet and reducing intake of sweets and alcoholic beverages--and to consider medication if your physician suggests it.

Friday, June 5, 2009

I want to lose two pounds a week

I am a 24 year old female who weighs 136. I want to lose 2 lbs a week. How much should I eat and how much should I workout? This week I've been burning 1000 calories a day and eating the minimum number of points for weight watchers. Help!!! -- Hannah L.

Hello Hannah,

You don't say how tall you are, but 136 pounds is not very overweight, no matter your height.
Unfortunately, especially at your relatively low weight, it's not going to be practical for you to lose two pounds a week. You say you've been burning 1000 calories a day; does this mean you are exercising and burning 1000 calories above your normal metabolism? If you can keep this up you could lose 2 pounds a week, but this means you've been exercising heavily for over 2 hours a day, and it's unlikely that a person could keep this up (if you can, that's great!)

I would encourage you to focus more on the changes you could make in your diet and exercise routine to get to a weight you want and stay there. I understand that we always want the weight off yesterday, but in reality, rushing to get it off by taking extreme measures in depriving ourselves of food, and forcing ourselves to over-exercise, isn't going to bring us anything in the long run.

Weight watchers is a sensible plan, so keep that up, as well as a reasonable amount of exercise as many days a week that is feasible for you. When you look back in 6 months (and again in 6 years) it'll all be totally worth the wait for the long term permanent changes!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I need an easy exercise

Hello Laurie,

I would like to lose weight. I am of average weight, but could stand to lose 5 pounds. I am very sedentary and hate exercise, but I am willing to do what it takes. I do not look toned and I am having trouble fitting into my old jeans. Can you suggest an exercise routine that is "easy" for those who are out of shape and need to lose weight? I have tried to run slowly on the treadmill, but can only run for about 5 minutes without feeling like I am going to fall apart. I am 38 years old. I am 5 ft 4" and 127 lbs. I am flabby. LOL
Rita N.

Dear Rita,

Well, I certainly can relate to wanting to lose a few pounds to fit into your jeans (see mine at http://www.mycoachlaurie.com/AboutYou.html). People who start running all say it's tough in the beginning, but if you'd like to keep it up, just add a minute a day to your treadmill routine and see how quickly you can work your way up.

I do have a great idea for how you can increase exercise and not sweat it (ha ha).... buy a pedometer! I have one myself and hate to go on the treadmill or to the gym. But playing a game with a pedometer has lead me to incorporate movement into my daily activities and gotten those last few pounds off!

Any pedometer you find works well enough--even $5 ones at Walmart--and most come with a booklet of ideas. There are also lots of websites that direct you on ways to get your steps up. Here is a good one:

Start by wearing the pedometer as you go about your usual activites for several days and jotting down the number of steps you've accumulated by the end of the day. Remember to reset the pedometer each morning (I do it in the evening so I don't forget!) You may have 800 steps, or you may have 8000--it depends on how active you are in your job and normal routines.

Then try to add a few hundred a day and continue making new goals for yourself. I now have a minimum of 6000 per day (which used to be my top goal) and try to get 10,000 or more--I've found that I can do this if I take 3 walks per day, and that going grocery shopping gives me as many steps as a 2 mile walk ... especially if I can't locate a particular food and have to run up and down the aisles several times!

Here's some helpful information:

About 2000 steps equals a mile for the average walker.

Each mile burns about 100 calories.

If you add 2000 steps per day to your usual routine you can lose a pound per month.

Well, that would have you to your goal weight in 6 months, as well as having developed a healthy new lifestyle!
good luck :)

Marriage is Making Me Gain Weight!

I need help! Since I got married about 6 months ago I have gained nearly 20 pounds. I am 5 feet 1 inch tall and I was already overweight at about 160 pounds--now it's even worse and I want to get the weight off as quickly as possible. Please give me advice! --Sheila R.

Dear Sheila,

I can certainly appreciate the fact that you would like the weight to come off as quickly as possible. However, realistically it's not going to come off more quickly than it came on.
Chances are, your circumstances have changed since you got married: dietary intake and usual exercise often change with lifestyle changes.

See if you can remember what you were doing differently before. Are you now enjoying larger meals with your husband? Eating out more often? Enjoying foods he is used to that you weren't eating before?
Have you stopped exercising to spend more time with him in another activity?
Hopefully he will be accomodating to help you get back to your healthier habits.

If nothing has changed and you are gaining weight for unexplained reasons, be sure to see a doctor: there could be a medical explanation such as an underactive thyroid, which controls your metabolism.
Otherwise, the best thing to do is try to avoid sweets and empty-calorie snacks like cookies and candy bars, and let true hunger guide your intake. Stop eating when you are no longer hungry instead of continuing to eat to keep others at the table company! Try to get some sort of exercise routine, like an early morning or late evening walk in.

Good luck with this endeavor--it is definitely hard work, but it will pay off. Set your long term goals for a year from now, and make them reasonable so you don't give up when the going is tough!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Colon Cleansing

Do you think it's safe to use a colon cleanse? Do they help you lose weight?
Sarah G.

Dear Sarah,

No, colon cleansing does not help you lose weight. There are various methods, from oral solutions to enemas, but the way they work is to get large amounts of fluid into your colon so you feel "emptied out" when you have a large fluid bowel movement.

If you step on the scale immediately afterwards you will see the numbers go down because you've just lost fluid weight, but no fat weight has been lost and the numbers on the scale will be back to usual by the next day or two.

There are hazards to colon cleanses as well, from electrolyte imbalances to perforation of the intestinal wall. I cannot think of a single reason to recommend a colon cleanse and there are a lot of reasons to avoid them!