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Imine's Health infobank

Healthy Dieting

eatingExcess weight is a problem facing an estimated 97 million adults in the United States. Currently, about one-fifth of all U.S. adults are believed to be considerably overweight. There are more "obese" people in the U.S. today than ever according to several medical journals and the ADA -- The American Dietetic Association.

According to the ADA there has been a recent 39% increase in obese teenagers. This is due to many factors but genetics can certainly play a role. With two obese parents there is an 80% chance for a teen to be obese; with one parent, 40%; and with lean parents only a 10% chance. But, don't get discouraged. The chances are not 100% so obesity is not inevitable.

Before you decide to pursue a weight-loss program, you should understand the definition, causes and health risks of being overweight. Here is some important information that may help motivate you to tackle this complex and serious health condition, if you are indeed overweight.

What's the Difference Between Being Overweight and Being Obese?

jeansThe terms "overweight" and "obese" are often used interchangeably. Although they both refer to excess body weight, they refer to different degrees of this condition. To determine the degree of a person's excess body weight accurately, many doctors use something called a Body Mass Index, or B I M, a measurement of weight that takes height into account.

A person with a BMI of 25 to 29.99 is considered "overweight." A person with a BMI of 30 or greater, or who is at least 30 lbs overweight (depending on height), would be diagnosed as “obese”, the condition of being considerably overweight. A registered dietitian or health care provider can help you determine your BMI and put you on a healthy diet.


Most medical personnel will tell you that being overweight is unhealthy. A long list of ailments await those who are overweight or obese. These include increased risks of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes just to name a few. Have you ever stopped to think however, that the definition of overweight means different things to different people?

For instance, a 5 foot 4 inch tall woman can be considered overweight at 160 pounds while a 6 foot 2 inch man is on the thin side at 160 pounds. How do you know what's the ideal weight for you? One way is to put everything on the same scale by adjusting for height. This can be done using the Body Mass Index (BMI) calculation.

The BMI is used by doctors to assess patients that are overweight or obese. It does a very good job of describing relative weight for any given height and measures your overall total body fat content. It does not however, differentiate between people with too much fat and athletic, muscular body type people. Thus, you should really use BMI in conjunction with other body composition assessments.

To calculate your BMI:
Take your Weight in pounds multiply that by 704
Divide that number by height in inches
Divide that number by height in inches again
19 - 24.9 = You Are Fit
25 - 29.9 = Overweight. You should address the problem now! This is when health issues may begin (high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol)
30+ = Obese = High risk for health problems.

How Can I Lose Weight As a Young Adult?

scaleWeight loss is a tough topic, especially for teenagers. You may want to weigh less or even look like someone else, but these goals may not be healthy or realistic for you. You may look at magazines, advertisements, and TV and wish you looked more like the models and actors do, but that's a sure way to set yourself up for disappointment. No magical diet or pill will make you look like someone you weren't meant to be. So, what should you do about losing weight?

Being healthy is really about being at a weight that is right for you. The best way to find out if you are at a healthy weight or if you need to lose or gain weight is to talk to a health care provider or registered dietitian, an RD. He or she can help you set realistic goals. If it turns out that you would benefit from weight loss then you can follow a few of the simple suggestions listed below to get started.

Weight management is about long-term success & will hopefully last a lifetime. People who lose weight quickly by "crash" dieting or other extreme measures usually gain it all back or gain even more of the pounds that they lost because they haven't permanently changed their eating habits. The best weight management strategies are those that you can maintain for a lifetime. That's a long time, so we'll try to keep these suggestions as easy as possible.

Dieting Tips

soda  Be aware of what you drink!
It's amazing how many extra calories are in the sodas, juices, and other drinks. Cutting out soda completely can save you 360 calories or more each day. AVOID diet soda too, the artificial sweeteners are probably not good very good for you & they tend to make some people hungry. Drink a lot of water. Switching from whole to nonfat or low fat milk is also a good idea, or switching to soy milk is even a better idea.

  Move your body!
You may find that you don't need to give up calories as much as you need to get off your behind. And don't get stuck in the rut of thinking you have to play a team sport or take an aerobics class - try a variety of activities from hiking to cycling to rowing until you find ones you like. Not a jock, you say? Find other ways to fit activity into your day: walk to school, jog up and down the stairs a couple of times before your morning shower or take a stroll past your crush's house - anything that gets you moving. Your goal should be to work up to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least 3 to 5 times a week - but it's fine to start out by simply taking a few turns around the block before bed. This may also help you to avoid becoming a TV, video game, or Internet junkie!

  Start small!
Drastic changes are much harder to stick with than small changes. Try reducing the size of the portions you eat and giving up regular soda for a week. Once you have that down, start gradually introducing healthier foods and exercise into your life.

  Stop eating when you're full!
Lots of teens (and adults) eat when they're bored, lonely, or stressed or keep eating long after they're full out of habit. Slowing down can help because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to recognize how much is in your stomach. Sometimes taking a break before going for seconds can keep you from eating them. Avoid eating when you feel upset or bored - try to find something else to do instead (a walk around the block or a trip to the gym are good alternatives). Many teens find it's helpful to keep a diary of what they eat and when. Reviewing their diary later can help them identify the emotions they have when they overeat or whether they have unhealthy habits. A registered dietitian can give you pointers on how to do this.

  Eat less more often!
Many people find that eating a couple of small snacks throughout the day helps them to make healthy choices at meals. Stick a couple of healthy snacks (carrot sticks, a low fat granola bar, pretzels, or a piece of fruit) in your backpack so that you can have one or two snacks during the day. Adding healthy snacks to your three squares and eating smaller portions when you sit down to dinner can help you to cut calories without feeling deprived.

  Five a day keeps the pounds away.
veggiesTrash the junk food and buy lots of fruits and vegetables! Five or more servings of fruits and veggies aren't just a good idea to help you lose weight - they'll help keep your heart and the rest of your body healthy. Other suggestions for eating well: exchange white bread for whole-wheat; drink lots of water and make sure you eat a healthy breakfast. Don't skip breakfast. (Having low fat cereal and milk and a piece of fruit is a much better idea than inhaling a donut as you run to the bus stop or eating no breakfast at all!) A registered dietitian can give you lots of other snack and menu ideas.

  Avoid fad or prepackaged diets.
If we were meant to eat from cans, they'd grow on trees. It's never a good idea to trade meals for shakes or to give up a food group in the hope that you'll lose weight - we all need a variety of foods to stay healthy. Teens, in particular, should stay away from fad diets because they're still growing and need to make sure they get proper nutrients. Avoid diet pills (even the over-the-counter or herbal variety) unless your doctor prescribes them! These can be very addictive!

  Don't banish certain foods.
Don't tell yourself you'll "never" again eat your absolutely favorite peanut butter chocolate ice cream or a bag of chips from the vending machine at school. Making these foods forbidden is sure to make you want them even more. Besides, you need to have some fat in your diet to stay healthy, so giving up all fatty foods all the time isn't a good idea anyway. The key to long-term success is making healthy choices most of the time. If you want a piece of cake at a party, go for it! But munch on the carrots rather than the chips to balance it out later in the evening.

  Forgive yourself.
So you were going to have one cracker with spray cheese on it and the next thing you know the can's pumping air and the box is empty? Drink some water, brush your teeth, and move on. Everyone who's ever tried to lose weight has found it challenging. When you slip up, the best idea is to get right back on track and don't look back. Avoid telling yourself that you'll get back on track tomorrow or next week or after New Year's. Start now.

Some Dieting Rules

Remember, any successful diet means consuming fewer calories, eating less food, but eating healthy food. You are fooling yourself if you think a diet that permits you to eat anything you what will help you to lose weight. To lose weight follow these simple rules:

  Don't eat a large meal in the evening when you'll have little opportunity for exercise afterwards. It's best to eat more at the times when you are going to be the most active. Eat a hearty breakfast, a substantial lunch, and a light dinner.

  Never skip breakfast!

  Eat slowly and thoroughly chew your food.

  Don't eat while you're doing anything else like watching TV, using the computer or doing your homework.

  Stop frying food.

  If you must snack, stock the fridge with low calorie snacks like raw vegetables and low fat yogurt.

Calorie Burning Tips

1.  Instead of riding elevators or escalators, take the stairs.
2.  At the supermarket park farther away from the door as you usually would. Take a couple extra laps around the market too if you have the time.
3.  Instead of plopping down on the couch during "Friends", do some house chores or better yet go for a nice brisk walk.
4.  If you take the bus or the subway, stand in the aisle and let someone else have your seat.
5.  Instead of going out to dinner, go out and walk, rollerblade or play pool (something physical).
6.  At work, instead of taking coffee breaks, take walk breaks, and no smoking!
7.  If possible once or twice a week, ride your bike to work or to the gym.
8.  Instead of sitting back and watching your younger siblings play (or if you are baby-sitting), get on the floor and play with them, at first they may think you are crazy, but they may like it.
9.  Instead of letting the dog out to roam the yard, take the dog for a walk.
10.  Cut your grass (with a push mower), your parents will love this too.
11.  While watching TV, lie on your back and do some leg lifts or some isometrics with your arms while watching.
12.  Wash the floors, it burns calories and uses many muscle groups and a clean floor isn’t so bad either! Just be careful of your knees.

Good luck dieting & remember to eat smart!

What Exercise Will Do For You!

Exercise does so many great things for you, that you may not be aware of them all. Exercise is a simple solution for stress, weight problems, depression, menstrual cramps, boredom, and conditioning of the heart. It builds self-confidence and self esteem and feels great. Most people have two complaints about exercise. It's boring! It hurts! If you feel that way, it's probably because you haven't tried enough different activities to find one that you enjoy. Give yourself and your body a chance to discover that you get more fun from moving then from sitting around. BUT take time to read Cool Nurse of course!

Finding a sport is an important start. There two important things to consider when you're choosing an athletic activity. How much movement does it involve, and how much fun is it for you? The only way exercise can help you is if you enjoy it enough to do it several times a week.

frog uni-cycleSports sometimes come into the scene in cycles or fads. You may want to get involved in a particular activity just because it's the one that everyone else is doing. Going for a popular sport can be a good way to get involved in athletics, but it can also be frustrating, discouraging and sometimes expensive. If something like that happens to you, look around until you find a sport that you can do and one that you will enjoy. Trends don't last for long, but the effects of a good exercise program do. Also, it may take you a while to discover how good you are at a sport. When you find a sport that appeals to you, you can't expect to be great when you just start out. Stick with it until you get past that awkward stage to a point where you're having fun, or until you're absolutely positive you'll never catch on. Any sport will have its advantages and disadvantages. You'll discover on your own what they are for you.

What's Stopping You?

Some teenagers dislike any exercise. They've heard about how much exercise can do for them, but for some reason they don't get the message. The reason may be that they've been getting other messages that make exercise seems pointless, risky, or painful. If you're not particulate excited about working out - even though you know what a difference it will make in the way you look and feel - maybe you've heard too many discouraging words about exercise. Here are a couple of them, as well as reasons you shouldn't let them stopped you.

"Running or other strenuous exercise is dangerous. You can hurt yourself."

Sure you can hurt yourself. Some athletes are always turning up with sprains, cuts, strains, dislocations and even fractures. But their injuries don't come from what they're doing - they come from the way they do it. They jump in too quickly, take on too much, or keep at it for too long a time.

stretchingYou can stay safe by warming up before you begin. Stretching helps prevent sprains and strains. If you are new to the sport, don't try to keep up with friends who have been doing it for years. Build up to their speed gradually. Make sure you have proper equipment and that it fits properly. Safety gear can be expensive, but that bicycle helmet for example, is a lot less expensive than a brain injury. If you get hurt, see your health care provider right away. Never try to "work through an injury" even if your coach advises you to do it. Tell the coach you'd rather wait for your health care provider's instructions.

Marathons are not for growing bodies. So, they are not the best exercise for teenagers. The10 K is the maximum distance you should run while you are still developing according to most health care providers. Marathons take too much energy and nutrients from young bones and cells that are needed for growth, so you're better off waiting until you reach your full height. Then you will have energy to spare to cover that distance.

"Exercise has to hurt. No pain, no gain."

injuredYou don't have to hurt your body to help it, and anyone who says that you do is leading you to trouble. Pain during or after exercise indicates that something is wrong. Either you are overdoing it, or you injured yourself. Listen to your body! All it takes to get something from exercise is effort. Making an effort means getting your body to move faster or work harder it than it does under normal conditions. How much harder? Enough to feel yourself breathing harder (but not losing breath and gasping for air) and to raise your pulse. A high pulse means that your heart is getting a work out too.

Checking Your Pulse

Before you start exercising, check your pulse. You can find your pulse by taking the index and middle fingers of your right hand and pressing them lightly over your left wrist, just below your hand on the left side. Don't use your thumb to take it, because it has a tiny pulse of its own that will confuse your count. You will need a watch with a second hand to count this, count it for 30 seconds, and then double that number.

Once you've found your pulse, register how fast it is moving. You should feel it beat about 70 times in one minute while your body is at rest. Once you've been exercising for 10 minutes, pause briefly to check your pulse again. You should feel it thump at least 100 times in one minute. If not, you have to put more effort into your work out until it does. If it is higher than 100, as high as 150 or more you are pushing yourself to hard, so slow down. You will get there soon enough.

What You Can Expect From Exercise

You'll feel good right away. Exercise works on the part of the brain that determines what kind of mood you're in. No matter how rotten you feel when you start out, a good run, swim, bike ride, roller blade, or walk will cheer you up. If you're already feeling good, you'll even feel better. After a few weeks your body will be firmer and more flexible. Your pulse will be slower when you're not working out; a sign that your heart is working at a healthier pace. You'll look better and the difference will start to show in your shape, your face, and your outlook on life.

What You Can't Expect From Exercise

You can't expect to look like models you see in magazines, television and advertisements. Let's put it this way -- if you went to take voice lessons, you might expect your voice to improve, but you wouldn't expect to sound like your favorite singer. The same goes for your shape, which is exactly how it would should be. You'll end up with your body in shape -- not with the shape of anyone else.

A Work Out That Works

The word exercise covers a lot of different activities, from walking to weight lifting. The best exercise is any kind that keeps her whole body moving for at least 20 minutes, makes you breathe harder than usual, makes you sweat, and gets your heart beating faster. A good exercise routine involves these four things:

Warming up
Cooling down

This softens and relaxes your muscles, preparing them to handle the extra stress you put on them during your work out. Well-stretched joints are less likely to strain, sprain, or break. Five minutes of stretching could prevent five weeks in a cast.

Warming up
Before you begin working out full tilt, starts slowly, using the same motions you'll be using when you're really exercising. By starting out easy, your giving your blood time to make its way to your muscles. The blood is fuel for those muscles, and if you don't give it a chance to get to them, they might pooped out on you. That is no fun at all.

aerobicsThis is when you work your body so much that you feel a difference in your pulse rate and in the way you are breathing. During conditioning, you're working out the most important muscle of all -- your heart. Exercise that increases your pulse rate (makes your heart beat faster) is the kind that has all of the benefits mentioned before, like controlling your appetite and making you feel terrific. It also has another benefit. It makes your body burn energy, not just when working out, but afterwards too. This helps you prevent putting on weight. People who don't get conditioning exercises end up storing much more of what they eat as fat than people who work out often. The reason for this is that muscles which are in good shape from conditioning use of a lot of energy. Fat uses hardly any energy at all, while a muscle at rest needs more calories. That is because muscles perform work, holding your skin firm and helping you move. Here are some examples of conditioning sports:

Field hockey
Walking quickly

Cooling down

Don't bring yourself to a sudden stop when you've finished your work out. Your body isn't prepared to quit as quickly as you might be, and a result of a sudden stop could be cramps, dizziness, or even fainting. Slow to a stop by lightly doing whatever activity you've been doing at a slower pace. Once you've stopped, do a few stretches to complete the cool down.

showerWarning: Never get into a hot shower until you have cooled down completely. Here's why: While you're working out, your blood circulates to the muscles you are using. During your cool down, your blood begins to circulate more evenly throughout your body. Hot water makes the blood come to your skin's surface. If you get under hot water before you've cooled down and have gotten the blood flow back to normal, your blood will be confused. It will rush to your skin, suddenly leaving the rest of you without enough to work normally. You could faint as a result. The shower is not a great place to faint. You could easily crack your skull, break another bone, or drown in the shower. Now that is embarrassing!