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Well-fed, Fit and Strong Bodies at Every Size

Fit and Strong at Every Size
Fit and Strong at Every Size
Ardith Brunt, Ph.D., R.D., Associate Professor Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences, NDSU

Many Americans are preoccupied with losing weight. However, permanent weight loss is rare if one is following a restrictive diet. It seems the thinner we try to become, the fatter we actually become.

So why is this? Although cutting calories is the cornerstone of weight loss, restricting calories can lead to hunger, which results in bingeing. The cycle of dieting with too few calories and then too many calories leads to yo-yo weight cycling. This weight cycling does not improve health or self-esteem. So what can a person do about this?

Eating a healthful, nonrestrictive diet is more important than the number on the scale. People come in all sizes and shapes, so what is important for health is to feed your body for health, not just eat to eat. The real focus should be on choosing nutrient-dense food and participating in exercise, not to prevent obesity but to promote health. This mind shift can promote a more positive you.

In fact, bodily movement (exercise) is critical to improving health overall. Dr. Steven Blair has shown that those who are overweight or slightly obese (a body mass index, or BMI, of 25 to 33) and exercise generally are fitter than those who are of normal BMI (19 to 24.9) and don’t exercise. Movement of any type promotes health, and if you do it long enough, wellness increases. Limit sedentary entertainment. Move more when you have fun.

So getting back to your relationship with food and appetite:

  • Never diet. Choose foods that are lower in calories but high in vitamins and minerals. This also means being aware (mindful) of what you are eating.
  • Pay attention to what can be influenced or chosen.
  • Savor every bite. When the foods stop tasting wonderful, then is the time for you to stop eating; don’t wait until all the food on your plate is gone.
  • Eat at regular intervals. Eat when you are moderately hungry, not famished. During the day, try not to go more than four hours between eating something.
  • Have a protein source for breakfast. This should be within two hours after rising.
  • Eat what you want, but be conscious of how the food makes you feel. Pay attention to your body.
  • Enjoy your food.
  • Set a goal to eat well and be active. That goal is not about the number on the scale or BMI number; it is about health and feeling strong.
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