On resolutions and motivation, and loving love handles
By Carolyn O'Neil
Web posted at: 7:19 a.m. EST (1219 GMT)
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(CNN) -- It's that time of year again -- time to make a new year's resolution to lose weight and get fit.
Right up there with getting our finances in order, losing weight continues to be among the most popular declarations of intention among Americans on New Year's Day.
It stays at the top of the list each year, of course, because very few people follow through with their good intentions to eat less and exercise more.
But don't let that stop the healthy momentum.
Motivation is the key factor in losing weight and keeping it off, according to Dr. John Foreyt, director of the Nutrition Research Clinic at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
"We find in our studies that people who are motivated from within -- that is, they are not motivated because of the high school reunion or the wedding, but people who are motivated for themselves to be in charge of their lives, to be in control of themselves -- those are the people ultimately who are successful," Foreyt explained.
Embracing love handles
It's interesting to note at this point that as the baby boomer generation moves toward age 50 and up, there's more widespread acceptance of carrying a few more pounds.
It seems that since the majority of their friends are 'pleasingly plump,' as it were, they start to think a little more weight actually looks OK.
The nation's body fat acceptance is changing.
Consider some results of annual surveys conducted by the NPD Group, a research company specializing in food trends.
In 1985, 55 percent of people who responded agreed with the statement, "People who are not overweight look a lot more attractive." In 1997, only 28 percent agreed.
Even concerns about calories have lightened up. In 1990, nearly 40 percent of respondents said they "are always conscious of the calories in the meals I serve." In 1997, that number dropped below 30 percent, the NPD Group found.
As we move into 1999, Harry Balzar of the NPD Group said diet concerns will include "a healthy trend, more about adding good foods to the diet, rather than one of avoidance."
A personal diet trainer
One of the best diet resolutions to make for the new year, according to the American Dietetic Association (ADA), is to have a nutrition checkup with a registered dietitian.
Dietitians (and I am one) have the skills and knowledge to translate complicated nutrition science into personalized advice on meal planning.
They can help you figure out what to order from restaurant menus, what to pack the kids for lunch or how to fit meal times into a hectic work schedule.
Eight out of 10 Americans believe nutrition has a positive impact on their lives, but just four in 10 believe they're doing all they can to achieve a healthy eating plan, according to the ADA's 1998 Nutrition Trends Survey.
After all, taking diet advice from colleagues on a coffee break, with a box of donuts standing by, can be hard work.
A few insider tips
Here, then, are a few tips from this registered dietitian:
Rather than simply trying to avoid fat and cholesterol, make an effort to eat more of the foods that improve your health.
That means choosing more vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables, especially those high in betacarotene. Good sources include dark green and orange- or yellow-colored fruits and vegetables. These foods have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.
Another healthy move to add: Eat more fiber-rich foods. Dietary fiber is important in helping to prevent colon cancer and coronary artery disease.
Fiber-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain cereals and whole-grain breads. Check the nutrition facts label on packaged foods to see how much dietary fiber they contain.
'M' is not for marathon
To many folks it seems that "going on a diet" and starving themselves is the only way to lose weight and get fit.
But the truth is the most successful dieters learn that eating regular meals in combination with regular exercise is what really does the trick.
Marathon running is not required!
Adding more motion to everyday activities, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking your car farther away in the supermarket parking lot, and just getting out to walk for a half-hour three times a week can really make a difference.
And the more you move, the more you can eat! That's a concept to keep food lovers motivated 365 days a year.
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