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Eating more fruits and vegetables, coupled with increased physical activity, can help shed unwanted pounds.

Healthy habits can help shed unwanted pounds

Friday, January 15, 2021

Resolutions for the new year are nothing new. For some people, that list includes starting an exercise regime, eating healthy and losing weight.

The previous year wasn’t easy for a lot of people, and some may find themselves carrying several extra pounds. Janice Hermann, Oklahoma State University Extension nutrition specialist, said now is a great time to get a plan in place to help shed those unwanted pounds and take steps toward a healthier lifestyle.

“It’s easy to gain a few pounds over the holiday season, especially with the special treats many people make during that time of year. However, 2020 presented some unusual challenges for many of us,” Hermann said. “Lots of people were working from home, and some, unfortunately lost jobs. Gyms were closed for weeks, and people were dealing with social isolation. These changes in day-to-day life certainly put a kink in normal routines that included exercise and healthy food choices.

“Now, here we are at the beginning of a new year, so it’s time to get back on the wagon,” she said.

First, it’s important to take small and consistent steps toward a health or weight loss goal. For those who aren’t normally active, don’t start out training like a professional athlete. Doing too much too soon can set some people up for failure. The best approach is to start slowly and increase efforts over time.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderately intense physical activity a week, 75 to 150 minutes of vigorously intense physical activity a week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activity a week.

“That’s about 20 to 40 minutes per day. If your schedule is hectic, break up that time into more manageable segments of 10 to 15 minutes,” she said. “When performed regularly, small segments of physical activity are just as beneficial as a long session. Be sure to check with your physician before starting a physical activity  program.”

Another strategy Hermann suggests is adding more fruits and vegetables to an eating plan. These foods are low in calories, but high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Fruits and vegetables should make up about half of the meal, with grains,  protein and dairy making up the other half.

To lose weight, calories taken in from foods and beverages need to be less than calories that go out via basic body functions and physical activity. A 500-calorie difference a day between calories in and calories out can lead to a reasonable weight loss rate of about a pound per week. This can be achieved through eating less overall, eating more nutrient dense foods or increasing physical activity

“People who do both - decrease foods and beverages consumed and increase physical activity -  tend to be more successful  at losing and keeping off weight,” Hermann said. “Combined with physical activity, eating smaller, healthier portions of food is a sure bet to start you on the way to a healthier lifestyle. Make every bite count.”

OSU Extension offers more information about health, nutrition and wellness on its website. In addition, check out the USDA’s MyPlate program for more healthy eating tips.

MEDIA CONTACT: Trisha Gedon | Agricultural Communications Services | 405-744-3625 | trisha.gedon@okstate.edu

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