Jumping off the diet carousel

Dietary experts provide insight into losing weight and keeping it off

Perhaps the No. 1 New Year's resolution is to lose weight.

Arin Koonce, dietician at The Memorial Hospital, said she hopes those resolving to do so have the right mindset.

"The goal is to be healthier rather than to reach a certain weight," Koonce said.

She suggests setting small goals and making one dietary change at a time, such as giving up soda pop or eating more fruits and vegetables.

Susie Begam-Violette, leader of the Craig Weight Watchers group, has similar tips. She offered the following guidelines for being successful with a New Year's weight loss resolution:

Don't use the holiday season as an excuse to splurge

Always be on the lookout for ways to fit healthy behaviors into your life, such as choosing fat-free items or frozen yogurt instead of ice cream

Plan ahead -- have healthy foods and snacks on hand

Eat a healthy dinner before attending parties and take healthy foods to potlucks

At buffets, make a few trips around the table before deciding and take a small plate

Drink lots of water because "a lot of times we're thirsty, not hungry"

Limit alcohol consumption

Set a winning outcome that includes a plan and small increments

"The most important advice: Walk away! Put your food down. Step away from the table," Begam-Violette said.

She encourages those wishing to lose weight to make small lifestyles changes, such as parking farther from the door at the store.

"These are little baby steps," Begam-Violette said. "We didn't gain (the weight) in one day, we're not going to lose it in one day."

The Weight Watchers leader herself lost more than 40 pounds before becoming a leader.

"I've done every diet imaginable. I was a professional dieter," she said. "The hardest part of starting (Weight Watchers) was admitting I can't do it alone."

She said Weight Watchers participants are successful because they have family-style meetings.

"The key to everything is the support," Begam-Violette said.

She said that support leads those in the program to be three times more likely to maintain the lower weight than those who go it alone.

"We give real-life insights so that our members can make the positive changes required to lose weight and to, more importantly, keep it off," Begam-Violette said.

The Craig group meets at 5 p.m. Tuesdays at St. Michael's Catholic Church, 678 School St.

The private weigh-in is from 5 to 6 p.m., and the meeting runs from 6 to 6:30 p.m. The first meeting of the year is Jan. 9.

The Hayden group meets at 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays for weigh-in and a 6 p.m. meeting at the American Legion hall, 220 S. Third St., Hayden.

For those ready to commit to dropping the pounds, Begam-Violette has the following advice: "Forgive yourself and be good to yourself. Don't give up. Tomorrow's a new day."

Michelle Perry can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or mperry@craigdailypress.com.

The United States Department of Agriculture's 2005 dietary guidelines make the following recommendations for maintaining a healthy weight:

To maintain body weight in a healthy range, balance calories from foods and beverages with calories expended.

To prevent gradual weight gain over time, make small decreases in food and beverage calories and increase physical activity.

The USDA recommends the following for specific population groups:

Those who need to lose weight: Aim for a slow, steady weight loss by decreasing calorie intake while maintaining adequate nutrient intake and increasing physical activity.

Overweight children: Reduce the rate of body weight gain while allowing growth and development. Consult a healthcare provider before placing a child on a weight-reduction diet.

Pregnant women: Ensure appropriate weight gain as specified by a health care provider.

Breastfeeding women: Moderate weight reduction is safe and does not compromise weight gain of the nursing infant.

Overweight adults and overweight children with chronic diseases and/or taking medication: Consult a health care provider about weight loss strategies prior to starting a weight-reduction program to ensure appropriate management of other health conditions.

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