Approach fitness healthily in Healthy Weight Week

Published 2:08 pm Wednesday, January 19, 2005

By By Carolyn Bivins Extension Agent
Did you make a New Year's resolution to exercise and eat healthier this year? By the third week in January, most New Year's resolution diets are dumped, rebound binges are over, and most people are looking for a dose of balance and good sense to get back on track. Whether you've already started or are planning to start, Healthy Weight Week is a great time to learn about healthy lifestyle habits. This week is Healthy Weight Week, which celebrates healthy lifestyle habits that last a lifetime and help prevent weight problems.
Healthy Weight Week promotes a national shift toward the concept of good health at every size, toward respect, acceptance and an appreciation of size diversity. It's important to understand that a healthy weight is different for everybody. Although you may see skinny men and women on TV and in movies, that body style is not realistic or healthy for many people. Regular exercise and healthy eating patterns are the secret to a healthy weight now and for the rest of your life! Eating a wide variety of foods, limiting serving sizes and starting a regular exercise program are good goals to set during Healthy Weight Week.
Weight isn't about a number on the scale. The important thing about weight is being healthy.
Eating the right types of foods is important. In our Lower Alabama Region of the state, only 10 percent of the population eats at least five fruits or vegetables a day. By eating less foods high in fiber and low in calories, the danger is that the foods you eat are higher in fat and as such, higher in calories. Instead of counting calories, count your fruits and vegetables! Eat at least five or more of them every day.
The next step is consuming the right amount of food for your activity level. Regular physical activity is essential to health: running, biking, swimming, dancing or other activities that increase your heart rate. Another component of activity is strength training, which helps you build muscle and strengthen bones. In our region of the state less than a third of our population exercises 30 minutes a day, most days of the week.
Having a Healthy Weight is important for children also. But there should be no discussion of weight in negative ways with them. Anorexia, bulimia, and a lack of self- esteem can result in harm to our children, more so than worrying about excess weight issues! The guidelines below should be used by all parents when dealing with their children:
Guidelines for Parents to prevent weight and eating problems with their children:
1. Be active with your children. Have fun together in a variety of physical activities.
2. Promote communication and sharing of feelings.
3. Teach positive self-talk, self-acceptance and self-respect. Praise and support each other.
4. Promote respect for others and appreciation of diversity. Be a role model of normal healthy eating and lifestyle.
5. Every body has a good body: emphasize this, and avoid focusing on weight or shape in a negative way.
6. Promote normal eating, and diet-free living. (i.e. choose regular size hamburgers/cheeseburgers instead of double or whopper-size burgers and don't super-size any food or beverage)
7. Eat family meals together at least once each day, if possible, and with the television off.
8. Help children develop interests and skills that lead to success, pleasure and fulfillment in areas where appearance is less important.
9. Encourage friendships with caring neighbors and other adults.
10. Eat slowly. You will rediscover how good food really tastes, and eating slowly will help you know when you are full.
Source: Children and Teens Afraid to Eat: Helping Youth in Today's Weight-Obsessed World.
Exercise or other types of physical activity is recommended by the American Dietetics Association (ADA). Remember, you don't have to join a gym to exercise. Here are a few other simple activities you can do daily to get some exercise.
Exercise Guidelines to help Adults: