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October 4, 2010

Fall Into Fitness

The Hood Answer Mom, Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.

With the kids back in school, September is like New Year's for me.

Fall is all about returning to old routines and establishing new ones. Vacation is over, the kids are back to school, and relaxed eating habits are a thing of the past, replaced by regular, and healthier, meals and snacks.  What's more, I can finally find the time to exercise on a regular basis again and not have to squeeze work outs in around the kids' summertime activities. 

At the same time, the holidays are rapidly approaching, another time of year when eating and exercise routines are challenged by other demands on my time, including shopping, cooking, decorating the house, cleaning, and entertaining.

Fall offers the opportunity to establish healthier routines for yourself and your family that will take you through December.  If you need to lose weight or eat better, don't wait until New Year's Day to make changes. It will be easier if you start now.

Back to Balance

Most of us, including me, suffer from Portion Distortion. It's when you serve yourself more than the suggested serving size and get more calories than you bargained for.

Overeating by a few hundred calories every day can leave you mystified as to why you're gaining weight or why you can't shed the pounds.

If you've ever read a Nutrient Facts label or scanned the suggested serving sizes at MyPyramid , you've probably been astonished about the smallness of the suggested serving sizes.

For example, according to MyPyramid, bagels weigh one ounce and supply about 100 or so calories, which amounts to a mini bagel, not the monstrosities you get at most coffee shops.  Most of those bagels weigh between two and five ounces, so it's easy to eat an extra 200 to 400 calories without even realizing it.

Pasta is another potential problem area.

If two cups of cooked rotini, angel hair, or ziti is your idea of a serving, then you may want to know that your portion is actually four servings!   You don't necessarily have to eat less pasta, but you do need to account for the calories.

Here's another problem with eating large portions of a single food.  When you go overboard on one food group, it crowds out other foods from your diet that provide nutrients you need. For the calories in a large bagel, you could have one scrambled egg, a mini whole wheat bagel, a small apple, and 8 ounces of Simply Smart Milk .  When you forgo the bagel for the egg meal, you're eating from four food groups instead of one, and you get fiber and protein (from the egg and milk) to keep you fuller for longer.

Say No to Nibbling

Mindless munching can lead to weight gain.

A half cookie here, a few bites of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich there, and two of your child's chicken nuggets. It's not a lot of food, but it amounts to about 275 calories.
When not balanced by physical activity, those calories a day can result in a 28-pound weight gain in a year's time! By the way, you would need to walk about three miles, briskly, to work off 275 calories.

Eating regular meals and snacks throughout the day can curb the constant picking that typically causes problems with weight control.  In addition, eating on a routine basis helps you feel satisfied and provides the nutrition you need.

Treat Yourself Every Day

Forget about giving up your favorite foods.  Deprivation is the death of any healthy eating plan. 

No matter what your weight control goal, there's always room for treats.  MyPyramid calls calories from treats them Discretionary Calories. I call them calories to spend any way you like, no questions asked!

Most people can spare about 100 calories a day for a favorite food.  Portion-controlled foods, including Hood Mini Ice Cream Sandwiches , or other 100-calorie treats, such as cookies, chips, or what else, can help you keep your calories under control. 

Work It Out

Exercise doesn't have to be elaborate to be effective. If you can't work out for 30 to 60 minutes on most days of the week, find other ways to work in exercise, such as three 10-minute walks every day. 

If you're looking for motivation and great tips about including more physical activity, check out Chris Evert's Get Some Exercise video at .  

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D., is a writer, nutrition consultant, and mother of three. She is the author of several books, including MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better and Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, & After Pregnancy . Ward is also a contributing writer for Muscle & Fitness Hers and Men's Fitness magazines.

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