Life Times Newsletter

January/February 2002
Vol. 4, No. 1

Replace diets with good health habits

This is the time of year when many people start diets. But after a few weeks of not getting enough to eat or eating food that doesnít taste good, most dieters give up, having "failed" once again. The truth is, though, that the diets are the failures, not the people who try them.

Instead of improving health, dieting is often harmful and counterproductive. Health statistics show that only 5 to 10 percent of those who diet and are able to lose weight can maintain the loss for more than a short time. Most dieters quickly regain the lost pounds plus a few extra and end up worse than they started.

This year, instead of trying yet another diet, resolve to make a positive change for good health. Any of these suggestions is a good place to start. Focus on taking one step at a time, as changing behavior and attitudes is difficult and takes time.

Adopt normal eating patterns.
Normal eating means regular meals and one or two snacks a day to satisfy physical hunger. Make food choices that provide variety, moderation and balanced nutrition. Respect the bodyís signals of hunger and fullness. Find non-food ways to deal with stress.

Make physical activity a part of every day.
Benefits include reduction in blood cholesterol and lipids, lower blood pressure, and relief from stress. Find activities that are fun and enjoyable, and that fit into daily routines. Walking, sledding, skating, dancing, bowl- ing, gardening, or playing with the kids are excellent ways to get physical. Go on to add other activities like weight training, yoga or Tai Chi that build muscles or improve balance and flexibility.

Get more sleep.
Most of us get less than the eight hours a night recommended by the National Sleep Foundation. This may seem like just a small deficit, but the effects are cumulative. Chronic sleep deprivation contributes to stress and tension, accidents in the home, work place and on the road, and can cause difficulty in coping with everyday annoyances of life.

Accept that there is no ideal body size, shape or weight.
People come in a variety of sizes and shapes, and all can benefit from a healthy lifestyle.

Research conducted by Steven Blair, director of research at the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas, shows that people can be both fit and fat. He notes, "There will always be tall, skinny people and short, stocky people. Thatís out of our control. What we can do is exercise regularly, follow good health practices, and live life to the fullest."

Each person is responsible for taking care of his or her body. Acceptance and self-respect lead to confidence, wellness and wholeness.

Linda S. Rellergert, MS
Nutrition Specialist

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University of Missouri Extension Editor: Roxanne T. Miller