109 W. Main St., Room 102
Cortez, CO 80321-3155
(970) 564-8615 (fax)
Monday through Friday
8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. MST
County Extension Director,
4-H Program Coordinator
by Jan Sennhenn
Spring is the time of year when we pull out the shorts, t-shirts
and swimwear. After trying on your favorite pair of shorts from
last year did you ever think to yourself, "I don't remember
this fitting so tight; it must have shrunk!" Chances are the
shorts are the same size they were when you put them away last fall.
That "tight" feeling is probably the result of not balancing
the number of calories eaten with the number of calories burned
over the winter months.
The average American lifestyle includes eating larger portions
and spending more hours sitting in front of a computer or television
set. Balancing the calories you eat against those you burn means
watching portion sizes and being physically active. Why is this
so important? The extra pounds may affect your long-range health.
Crash diets or an intense physical activity program are usually
short lived by those who try to lose extra pounds in a short period
of time. These regiments are hard to stick to and they don't give
the individual the immediate results that he/she expects.
The key to regaining a healthy weight for your age, body type,
and gender is to adopt a healthy lifestyle by making small gradual
changes in the foods you eat, the beverages you drink, and the intensity
level of the physical activity you enjoy. This approach is more
likely to be maintained than the "quick fix" dieting and
"pain no gain" approach to shedding those extra pounds.
Portion sizes are a lot smaller than most people think. Huge portions
served by restaurants, all you can eat buffets and extra large so
called single servings of chips, candy bars and other snack foods
all contribute to overeating. Most packaged products have a food
label on them that tells you what the serving size is for that product.
It also tells you the number of calories per serving. For example,
a 20-ounce bottle of cola is 2 ½ servings. There are 100
calories per serving. If I drank the entire bottle, I would be consuming
250 calories. That doesn't sound so bad until you realize that the
source of those calories is sugar. If I have to have my cola, a
small change would be to only drink a 12-ounce container. It's still
a lot of sugar but not as much as I was drinking before; 10 teaspoons
instead of 17! The next step for me would be to drink my cola less
often until I reach my goal of only having a 12-ounce cola once
a week as a treat. Before long chances are it will be a rare occasion
that I drink a cola of any size. It is a small change but it is
a lifestyle choice that can make a big difference over time. You
can apply this strategy to any food or beverage that is high in
calories but low in nutrition.
The same approach can be applied to starting a physical activity
program. If you have not been physically active and you have some
health problems, always check with a doctor before starting any
physical activity program. One of the easiest physical activities
each of us can do because it comes naturally is walking. Start slow
and build up the distance walked and intensity over time. Again,
small change is easier to maintain than radical change. Researchers
say that 10,000 steps a day is equivalent to a 30-minute workout.
The average person takes 2000-2100 steps in a mile depending on
your stride. It doesn't take a math genius to figure that's approximately
five miles if you want to reach the goal of 10,000 steps per day.
The best part about a walking program is that you don't have to
do it all at once and all you need is a good pair of shoes.
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