Visualize the new you; Resolve to play
January 2008
Shape Up America! Newsletter

Happy New Year!

Simple Visualization to Support the New You
by Barbara J. Moore, PhD
Now that we're at the start of a new year, why not make it the start of a new you? This is an ideal time to begin treating yourself better by taking better care of your body.

Think about the foods and beverages you choose to consume. For many people, it is a challenge to eat healthfully day in and day out. To lose weight, we know we are supposed to:

  • Consume a variety of colorful VEGETABLES and FRUITS
  • Choose WHOLE GRAIN products like whole grain cereals, breads and pasta
  • Limit desserts, chocolate, candy or other sweets
  • Limit fatty foods
  • Limit or avoid soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages

The difficulty usually stems from having too much stress, working too hard or being too exhausted to plan and prepare healthful meals and snacks. Even if we eat out, we often overeat or make the wrong choices. The idea of worrying about one more thing — like limiting portions — can put you right over the top, making your commitment to eating healthfully fly out the window. Sometimes the challenge is dealing with a friend, relative or spouse who has not made the same commitment as you to healthier eating.

If you are trying to lose weight and stay healthy, start by limiting your portions and making healthful food choices. Think of weight management as the equivalent of saving money for your retirement. If you want to achieve your long term goal of financial security, you have to find a comfortable balance of spending and saving on a daily basis. Similarly, if you want to control your weight and resist the urge to overeat, you need to find the right balance of what you eat and how much you eat every day.

When faced with temptation, fight back with this simple three-step meditation:

Step 1: Shut your eyes and take a deep breath. Now take a moment to quietly consider how you regard your body. Think about the reasons why you APPRECIATE your body and why you want to take care of it.

Step 2: Keeping your eyes shut, take another deep breath and visualize your body as a beautiful temple or cathedral. Take a moment to look at the colorful windows and carvings on the walls. Think about the cool and peaceful interior where you can have a moment to yourself. Above all, think of your body as a holy or sacred place that must be respected and honored. Think of the food that enters your body as a sign of that respect and honor. To close your visualization, once again think about why you APPRECIATE your wonderful body and why you want to take care of it.

Step 3: Take another deep breath and slowly open your eyes.

This brief meditation should take no more than 30 seconds. If you perform it daily — with sincerity and care — you will experience greater ease in resisting temptation.

Resolve to Play!
by Rian Landers
Remember when you were a kid and all you wanted to do was run outside or ride your bike? Chances are you never considered the hours each day spent playing in the yard or on the playground as "exercise." Most children beg and plead for just five more minutes of time to play with their friends, have fun, release energy and use their imagination.

Would you still beg for five more minutes of physical activity today? Most adults would answer "no." So, what happened? Sure, priorities change when you grow older and life gets busy with school, work, family, etc. What used to be fun suddenly becomes an inconvenience that people feel obligated to do or not do at all. The word "exercise" has developed such a negative reputation over the years — it's time to remind people that it can still be fun!

According to the 2005 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), the prevalence of regular physical activity increased 8.6% among women and 3.5% among men from 2001 to 2005.1 These data suggest that people are starting to acknowledge the importance of physical activity for their health and well-being and are making an effort to take care of their bodies. However, there are still leaps and bounds to be made, and a major step in doing that is to change people's attitudes.

I am a firm believer that every person can be physically active and actually enjoy it. Recognizing that individuals differ in their motivation to become active, as well as in their interests, tailoring suggestions to each individual helps encourage behavior change.2 The secret is finding an activity that motivates you and excites you; an activity that rewards you like it did when you were a child.

Activities that meet our needs for social interaction, independence and competence are the springboard for creating healthy, active lifestyles because they increase emotional well-being.3 If your New Year's resolution involves being more physically active, consider these tips to help you stay motivated:

  • Set physical activity goals that are realistic and attainable, yet challenging. This increases self-efficacy ("I can do it"), which, in turn, creates a sense of goal achievement, well-being, improved fitness, positive social experiences, and greater self-esteem.4
  • Focus on mastery of the activity rather than competitive performance. Climates that focus on mastery (understanding a task, developing abilities) are linked to greater enjoyment, positive effort, perceived competence, positive self-efficacy and less tension.5 A climate focused on performance (doing better than others to obtain positive judgments) is linked to less positive responses, suggesting that goals should be set with the intent of educating.6
  • Set specific, short-term goals that keep you on the path to overall fitness. The long-term goal of "being in shape" is often not enough to keep people motivated since the actual result takes weeks, months or even years.
  • Keep a diary. Record everything physically active that you do in a week and note how you felt after each activity.
  • Use a pedometer, or step counter. A pedometer can help track progress and challenge you. Results from a recent study linked pedometer use with significant increases in physical activity and decreases in body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure.7 Setting a step goal and keeping a diary of the number of steps walked each day were key to increasing physical activity. Diaries and pedometers make you more conscious of your steps, let you measure active time, and help you develop competence in your ability to reach your goal.
  • Create physical activity choices. Plan ahead for the week with a variety of activities of varying times to help you reach the recommended goals for daily physical activity (recommendations for ages 65+). Collect ideas for new activities to try when your normal routine becomes monotonous or when you want to spice up your daily routine.
  • Choose activities you enjoy. Not everyone looks forward to going to the gym every day. Not everyone gets a "runner's high" from jogging a few miles. In fact, many people despise it. There are many forms of non-traditional physical activity that can help you reach your goals without dreading it. Check with your local community center for dance classes, yoga centers, Pilates classes, rock climbing gyms, kick boxing classes, or even belly dancing lessons.
  • Surround yourself with people who are supportive of your efforts or are willing to be active with you. Many gyms provide social networking that can introduce you to others looking for a workout partner. Some places offer unique family-oriented classes. Jogging and walking clubs exist in nearly all communities or you can contact your local parks for hiking and biking trails to explore with friends and family.

There are many options and several alternatives to the traditional "workout" that can get you moving in ways that are enjoyable and entertaining. The bottom line is that physical activity in any size, shape or form is a benefit.

As you ring in 2008, resolve to see physical activity as it once was — something that made you happy, kept you young, and let you play.

Rian Landers is Program Manager for Research for the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE)

Know your BMI
Body mass index (BMI) is an indicator of body fatness calculated from a person's weight and height. It is important to know your BMI since total body fat is related to health risk. BMI is one way to assess the likelihood of developing overweight- or obesity-related diseases.

Our adult BMI calculator is an easy way to determine your BMI. However, the BMI calculator is not appropriate for everyone since, in some people, the results can be misleading. These individuals include:

  • Weight lifters, body builders and other athletes whose BMI is elevated, not because of excessive body fat but because of muscle
  • Frail, elderly individuals
  • Infants, toddlers and children
  • Teens who are still growing

Children and teens should not use the adult BMI calculator. Since children and teens are growing, the BMI must consider three critical factors — age, sex and developmental stage — all of which influence body fat content. For this reason, the Pediatric BMI Calculator should be used for boys and girls ages 2 to 20, or until growth stops.

The weight categories associated with BMI ranges for adults are:

Weight Category BMI
UnderweightBelow 18.5
Normal 18.5 - 24.9
Overweight 25.0 - 29.9
Obesity 30.0 and above

New Addition to SUA Newsletter
Shape Up America! subscribers have expressed interest in receiving recipes and menu plans in our monthly newsletter. We are pleased to announce that along with our Recipe of the Month, we will now include 1500 calorie and 2000 calorie menu plans with our newsletter. Our intent is to provide simple and convenient menus that can help you eat healthfully while controlling your calories. If you have any suggestions or comments, feel free to e-mail us at

My Story
Dennylou found that keeping a food and activity journal helped her stay on track and lose weight.

I have lost 23 pounds, gained body mass and brought my cholesterol from 225 to 180 in 6 months. This website helped, plus I kept a journal, entered my food and exercise. I tweaked my food to have more fiber, protein and calcium and to have less saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and sodium. I have protein, fiber and nutrients in every meal and snack; I intensified my workout and went from 60 minutes intense 6 days a week to 60 minutes 3 days a week and I walk about 540 minutes weekly. Read More…

If you would like to share your personal success story and be an inspiration to others who desire to lose weight, simply use our story submission system on the SUA Web site.

Recipe of the Month
This easy-to-prepare recipe is low in calories and rich in vitamins A and C.
Broccoli with Shallots
Makes 8 servings


  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp shallots, minced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • cooking spray


  1. Blanch broccoli in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes until crisp-tender; drain.
  2. Spray a medium skillet with cooking spray; turn heat to medium. Add garlic and shallots; cook 10 seconds.
  3. Add broccoli and red pepper flakes; toss to coat. Salt and pepper to taste.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 15 calories, 0 gram total fat, 0 gram saturated fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 2 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram protein, 1 gram dietary fiber, 10 milligrams sodium, 1250 IU vitamin A (25% Daily Value); 36 milligrams vitamin C (60% Daily Value)

Source: Wegmans, available at the FruitsandVeggiesMatter Web site.

phone: 406-686-4844

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Editor: Adrienne Forman, MS, RD

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