News from Shape Up America!
January 2007
Shape Up America! Newsletter


Planning and TrackingóYour Keys to Weight-Loss Success
by Barbara J. Moore, PhD
The next time you set out to lose weight, how would you like to double — or even triple — your weight loss? This can be achieved by following a weight-loss program that includes diet, physical activity and behavioral change PLUS — and this is the secret ingredient — record keeping. We realize that keeping track of what you eat and how much you exercise is just one more thing to add to an already busy day. But a study by Wadden1 found that weight loss increased from five pounds to triple that amount in participants who were the most conscientious about keeping a food diary.

Scientists donít know exactly why keeping a record boosts weight-loss success, but another study2 of successful losers suggests that monitoring yourself on a daily basis helps you plan your meals and activity and allows you to track how well you performed against that plan. It may be that the process of keeping track makes you more mindful of the importance of the decisions you make each day. And when you assess how youíve done, itís a good opportunity to think about your weight-loss goals and priorities for the next day.

In addition to a food and activity diary, some people keep a journal. Weight loss can be challenging and you may find it helpful to record your feelings and concerns at the end of the day. It helps to include an affirmation in your journal entry. For example, "I am taking control of my weight to become healthier and more energetic." Select an affirmation that is meaningful to you and concentrate on it as you go to sleep.

Sample Food and Activity Diary

How to Combat a Pot Belly
by Barbara J. Moore, PhD
We receive many e-mails asking how to eliminate a protruding tummy also known as a "pot belly." Here are six strategies that will help.

1. Drink less alcohol: Drinking alcohol contributes to a "pot belly." Alcohol encourages fat deposition in the liver and alcohol causes changes that thicken the lining of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Both of these changes increase the size and weight of the liver and GI tract, which, over time, distends the belly.

2. Consume fewer carbs: Americans tend to overeat carbohydrate-rich foods. Cut back on your intake of carbs (e.g., bread, pasta, cakes, cookies, muffins) by about one third to see if this helps reduce your belly distention. We absolutely do NOT want you to cut out carbs altogether — just cut back.

3. Make wiser carb choices: When you do eat foods containing carbohydrates, choose whole-grain products more often and limit products made with added sugar or refined flour. Whole grain products include oatmeal and other whole grain cereals, whole wheat bread, barley, brown rice and popcorn. Note that "sugar" includes: table sugar, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, honey, molasses, maple syrup and concentrated fruit juice.

4. Drink sweetened beverages infrequently: Instead of drinking sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda or fruit-flavored drinks, switch to zero-calorie beverages, such as water or unsweetened flavored seltzer. If you enjoy fruit juice, such as orange or grapefruit juice, keep your portion to one small (6 oz.) glass daily.

5. Do aerobic exercises for the abs: Walking and jogging are both helpful for strengthening abdominal muscles. Aim to walk or jog for at least 30 minutes each day. Remember, you donít have to do it all at once. You can walk 10 minutes three times — in the morning, afternoon and evening — for a daily total of at least 30 minutes.

6. Do resistance exercise for the abs and back: Twice each week spend about 15 minutes doing specific strength-training exercises for your abdominal AND back muscles. The former will tone the underlying muscles in your belly and the latter will help you stand up straighter. Excellent posture will help streamline and minimize your tummy. (See "Working the Abs" article below.)

HOW TO GET STARTED: To start out on your belly-trimming regimen, measure your waist circumference with a tape measure. Make sure the tape is at the narrowest point of your waist and that it is parallel to the floor all the way around (ask a friend to check this for you or use two mirrors so that you can get a view of your waist all the way around). To get an accurate measure, make sure the tape is snug, but not uncomfortably tight. Write the measurement down. Add one of the above steps each week, so by the end of week six, you will have all six steps working together. Continue to do all of these steps each week for a full six months. Then measure your waist again with a tape measure. Compare the two numbers. You should see a decrease in your waist circumference.

CONTACT US: If you donít see an improvement, include the two waist circumference numbers and the dates of each measurement in an email and contact Shape Up America! through our online Support Center.

Working the Abs
by Michael Roussell
If you watch TV, youíve likely come across infomercials on exercise gadgets that promise washboard abs or a flat tummy in record time. Many of these products claim to be better than the traditional abdominal crunch because they donít strain your neck or back. However, as Iíve discussed in a previous article on abdominal crunches, when done correctly, crunches do not place any strain on the neck or back. (For a discussion of factors that produce a flatter tummy, see "How to Combat a Pot Belly" above).

This month I am introducing a new abdominal exercise that works your core muscles (abdominal muscles and lower back muscles) without requiring any flexion, or bending, of your spine. The exercise is called "the plank" and it has been slowly gaining popularity among the countryís top trainers and strength coaches.

You may be wondering, "How can this exercise work my core if it doesnít involve crunching?" That is a fair question. The plank involves what is called an isometric contraction. All the exercises that I have introduced previously have involved isokinetic contractions, which means that you are moving throughout the exercise. For example, with squats, you squat down and then stand up. With isometric contractions, you hold one position and donít move for a predetermined period of time.

The plank, which uses isometric contractions, is a fairly simple exercise. To begin the movement, get down on the ground and lay on your stomach. From there, get up on your toes, elbows, and forearms (See picture below). Make sure that your body is flat, like a plank, and keep your abdominal muscles tight. (You can suck in your stomach a little to help engage the muscles). Then hold this position for as long as you can. I recommend that you work in 15-second intervals. Start out holding the position for 15 seconds. If that is easy for you, progress to 30 seconds, 45 seconds, and finally 60 seconds. It may take you weeks or even months to reach the final goal of holding the plank for 2 sets of 60 seconds each.

Goal LevelAction
Introductory 1 or 2 sets of 15 seconds
Beginner 2 sets of 15 to 30 seconds
Intermediate 2 sets of 45 seconds
Advanced 2 sets of 60 seconds

The plank is a great exercise to couple with bodyweight squats. To combine these two exercises, just alternate between sets of bodyweight squats and the plank with as little rest as possible between the two exercises. This not only increases the intensity of your workout, but also cuts down on the time spent working out.


Share Your StoryóNew Addition to the SUA Support Center
Against what sometimes feels like insurmountable odds, many people find ways to eat better, be more active, lose weight, and enlist friends and family to be more supportive of a healthier lifestyle. If you have a story youíd like to share about your weight-loss challenges and achievements, we invite you to send it in to Shape Up America! Some of the stories submitted will be excerpted for our newsletter and some will be placed on our website in the Support Center. To share your story and be an inspiration to others in their weight-loss journey, simply use our new story submission system on our website.

Recipe of the Month
This hearty, nutritious recipe is rich in fiber, vitamin A and vitamin C. Itís a great way to add plenty of vegetables to your meal.
Serves 8



  • 1 16-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped cauliflower (the equivalent of about 2 small heads)
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup carrot, sliced
  • 1Ĺ cups chopped zucchini (1-2 medium)
  • 3 cups kidney beans or black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 14.5-oz. cans low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni or small pasta shells
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup fresh, loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. water



  1. In a 5 to 6 quart saucepan, bring Ĺ cup water to a boil. Add tomatoes, cauliflower, onion and carrots. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
  2. Add zucchini, beans, broth and pasta. Return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
  1. Put all pesto ingredients in food processor or blender and process until very finely chopped.
  2. Just before serving, remove soup from heat and stir in pesto.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 250 calories, 40 grams carbohydrate, 6 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 5 milligrams cholesterol, 14 grams protein, 300 milligrams sodium, 9 gram fiber, 2000 IU vitamin A (40% DV*), 102 milligrams vitamin C (170% DV).

* DV = Daily Value

Source: 5 a day recipe.

phone: 406-686-4844

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Editor: Adrienne Forman, MS, RD

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