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SUNY Plattsburgh Faculty Say Fitness, Nutrition a Year-Long Resolution

On any given day in the United States from 20 to 25 percent of men and 30 to 40 percent of women are trying to lose weight, and those percentages may be even higher after the holidays, according to Assistant Professor of Nutrition Jorunn Gran-Henriksen.

Most of that weight, however, does not come from seasonal overindulgence. Studies have shown that the average person only gains one or two pounds over the holidays.

The problem is, over time, those pounds can add up. 

Fueling Your Way to Good Health

For those of us wanting to drop that weight before it adds up, Gran-Henriksen offers these tips:

  • Calories count. The fewer calories we consume, the more pounds we lose. This is not such a simple equation, however, because consuming less may also result in a drop in our metabolism, making it harder to lose weight. To make up for this, exercise is key.
  • Satisfy your stomach. Although a calorie is a calorie, satiety differs from food to food. Some foods naturally fill you up better and keep you feeling fuller longer. Look for protein, fiber and healthy fats — those that are not from animals, with the exception of fish. Together, protein and fat trigger the release of intestinal hormones that slow stomach emptying and prolong feelings of fullness. Fiber also slows the stomach helping you stay full longer.
  • Include fruits and vegetables. These are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and low in calories. Aim for at least four cups a day by including these in most meals.
  • Go nuts. Nuts have it all — protein, fiber and healthy fat. But they also have a lot of calories, so one handful is generally enough.
  • Look for whole grain goodness. Make at least half your grain intake whole grain. As a rule, search for items with at least two grams of fiber per serving.
  • Beware the low-fat label. Manufacturers often make up for reductions in fat by adding sugar. As a result, their products might not be as low in calories as you think.
  • Consider why you are eating. Most overeating doesn’t come from hunger but from appetite or a psychological desire to eat. Something looks good and smells good. Everyone else is eating it, and it’s there, so we eat it.
  • Be there. Studies show that distracted eating results in more calories consumed. Turn off the TV. Stop messing with the computer. Sit down. See your food. Smell it. Taste it. Enjoy it, and you’ll be likely to eat a lot less.
  • Imitate success. According to the National Weight Control Registry, people who successfully lose weight and keep it off tend to do the following:
    • Be somewhat careful with fat intake. Fat is dense in calories. One teaspoon of butter, for instance, equals 45 calories. One teaspoon of sugar equals 16 calories.
    • Eat breakfast. It really is one of the most important meals of the day.
    • Avoid skipping meals. This can lead to overeating later.
    • Exercise from 60 to 90 minutes a day.
    • Keep extras to 200 calories a day.
  • Don’t set your sights too high. A realistic goal would be to lose no more than 5 to 10 percent of your body weight. Anything more than that, and you’re likely setting yourself up for failure.

Finally, Gran-Henriksen says, successful weight loss or control should be measured not by pounds lost but by health gained.

Getting Physical

You’ve thought about diet. Now it’s time to think exercise. SUNY Plattsburgh Fitness Center Director Matt Salvatore G’02 has a checklist to get you started:

  • Get real. Set realistic goals and have realistic expectations. Create short-term goals that lead to long-term success.
  • Get checked out. Make an appointment with your physician to review risk factors and assess what health markers are most in need of attention.
  • Find the best spot. Seek a suitable, conducive place to exercise whether at home, outside or at your local fitness center or health club. Exercise should be an energizing, motivating aspect of your day.
  • Get help. Enlist the assistance of a certified personal trainer to provide education, motivation and safe and effective exercise instruction. You will find it well worth the investment.
  • Do think nutrition. As Gran-Henriksen suggested, you should find ways to foster a positive relationship between diet and exercise.
  • Nurture your body. Get plenty of rest, and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Just get up and do something. If nothing else, simply find ways to become more active. Your metabolism will respond in kind.

Salvatore reminds alumni, faculty and students that they are all eligible for memberships at the Fitness Center.

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