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Health ABCs can help you shed pounds, become fit

(Jan. 12, 2004)--Okay, so you know you really should have stayed away from the dessert table, but the fudge was calling your name. Yes, you had a piece of chocolate cake, but surely you weren't expected to skip the sweet potato pie or the pecan pie?

After weeks of holiday parties and family dinners, the new year is finally here. Only problem is now your pants don't fit. Like many Americans, you've decided to shed a few pounds and get in shape in 2004.

Getting in shape is a tough resolution to stick with, but Karen Cataldo, assistant director of campus recreation, is here to help with a four-part series in January for a healthier you.

Karen, an American College of Sports Medicine health fitness instructor, will walk you through the important things you need to know about health and fitness.

Find out how often, how long and how hard you should be exercising each week. Learn about nutrition and why fad diets aren't a good idea. Discover how to keep it going once you've started an exercise program.

But first, learn your ABCs -- the building blocks for a healthier you.

Health ABCs for 2004

  • A -- Eat an Apple. Apples are full of nutrients and low in calories. Eat one before a meal to prevent overeating.
  • B -- Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It will provide energy to get your day started. Fruit, bagels and cold pizza are just a few quick and easy choices.
  • C -- Carbohydrates provide energy and are an essential nutrient. Avoid consuming simple carbs such as high-sugar foods, and increase your intake of complex carbs -- grains, pasta and low-fat cereals.
  • D -- Don't Diet! Diets are only a short-term solution. Make healthy nutritional choices that will sustain you for life.
  • E -- Exercise. Exercise isn't only about losing weight, it also helps you feel good about yourself and gives you energy all day long. Aim for a minimum of 3 times a week for 30 minutes.
  • F --Have Fun! Get involved in an activity you enjoy and look forward to doing. Exercising shouldn't be something you dread.
  • G --Set realistic Goals. Write down some goals you can achieve in a 4- to 6-week period. Focus on small steps so you aren't setting yourself up for failure.
  • H -- Monitor your Heart rate. Use a heart-rate monitor to ensure you are working out at the correct intensity. Work with a fitness expert to help you determine the appropriate heart rate for you.
  • I --Invite others to join you. Exercising with a buddy makes it much easier to stick to the program.
  • J -- Jumping Rope is a great cardiovascular exercise and requires very little equipment. Find a surface with a little give to it, such as the grass, gym floors or carpeted areas.
  • K -- Participate in a Kickboxing class for an overall body workout. Participating in a 60-minute class can burn 400-500 calories.
  • L -- Make Lifetime choices, not quick fixes. Walking, swimming and biking are all exercises you can do regardless of age. Eating right everyday benefits you more than dieting for a month.
  • M -- Take some time for Meditation. Find a quiet area, close your eyes, take some deep breaths and visualize a peaceful place. Five minutes of meditation will help rejuvenate you.
  • N -- Never give up! If you miss a day of exercise or eat two cookies instead of one, it isn't the end of the world. Focus on tomorrow and get back on track.
  • O -- Look for Opportunities to try something new, whether it is a new activity or a new food. Participate in a Pilates class or taste something made with tofu. You might really like it.
  • P -- Positive thinking goes a long way. Create your own personal mantra to get you through the tough workouts or long days. An example might be, "I can do it."
  • Q -- Aim for Quality workouts. If you only have 10 minutes to spare for your workout, pay attention to your heart rate and technique. Walking briskly, with arms pumping, for 10 minutes is better than strolling for 10 minutes.
  • R -- Take time to Relax. Slow down and enjoy life. As the saying goes, "Stop and smell the roses."
  • S -- Build a Support System. Once you have set your goals determine who you can lean on when you need that extra motivation to continue.
  • T -- Take care of yourself. Don't forget about you. We often spend so much time taking care of everyone around us that we forget about ourselves.
  • U -- Use it or lose it. Unless you want to be frail and lose your independence, you need to strength train all your life. Muscle burns more calories compared to fat, pound for pound.
  • V -- Eat your Vegetables. Vegetables are the best source of natural vitamins. Focus on eating a variety of different colors so you can consume a wide variety of nutrients.
  • W -- Work out with a partner. Being accountable to another individual makes it harder to skip your workout. You can also use each other for motivation.
  • X -- Cross-train. Cross-training allows you to participate in a larger variety of activities and helps to prevent boredom. Choose 3 different modes of working out, such as walking, biking and swimming. Perform each activity for 10 minutes.
  • Y -- Try Yoga. Not only will you feel relaxed and invigorated after a class but you will also be more flexible. As we age, we lose flexibility which often prevents us from performing certain tasks.
  • Z -- Zippy and Zealous is how you'll feel after you start a workout program and begin eating a healthier diet.

For more fitness information, contact Karen Cataldo at 210-458-7373.

Visit the Campus Recreation Web site.

--Leigh Anne Gullett

University Communications
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