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 —
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
|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
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.
- 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
- 3 14.5-oz. cans low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni or small pasta
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 cup fresh, loosely packed basil leaves
- 1 Tbsp. water
- 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.
- Add zucchini, beans, broth and pasta. Return to
a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
- Put all pesto ingredients in food processor or
blender and process until very finely chopped.
- 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. http://www.5aday.gov/
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Editor: Adrienne Forman, MS, RD