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A Realistic Nutrition & Exercise Plan

By Dr. Franchesca Vermillion

Every New Year's Eve, hundreds of thousands of Americans make a resolution to lose weight, quit smoking, run a marathon or some other goal related to getting healthier. Many people fall off the track because it is hard to set a large goal without realistic planning. It is hard to know where to start and what to expect. Your unhealthy habits did not start overnight so they will not go away overnight.


The physical activity readiness questionnaire, or PARQ, was created by the American College of Sports Medicine in the mid-1990s to help people determine if they need to see a doctor before engaging in activity. For those between the ages of 15 and 69 who have not been active in a while, it will be helpful to fill out the questionnaire before doing anything else.


It is hard to stick to a workout plan if it is not effective. The most effective forms of exercise address strength, flexibility and endurance, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Physicians. Each week it is important to create workouts or join classes which include weights, cardio and stretching. Children and adults alike should aim for an hour of activity or more every day. Starting out, it is important to build up to that activity level. Begin with 30 minutes three times a week, allowing the body to grow accustomed to working out. If 30 minutes in one stretch is too much, there is nothing wrong with two 15-minute sessions a day. Track progress with fit tests, such as how long it takes to walk a mile or how many sit-ups or push-ups can be done in one minute. Reward progress to keep it fun and encouraging as well.


To make eating well easier and more realistic, start with just simply adding variety, color and freshness to the days meals. Go slowly replacing high sugar, high salt, processed foods with something more natural and fresh. Help Guide Online states not all bad foods have to be given up or made off limits; these treats can be enjoyed in moderation as rewards for reaching a goal. Eating a small portion of something decadent can still allow for the flavor to be enjoyed without adding to the waistline. Water and exercise should also be thought of as food groups to be better incorporated. Continue to find permanent replacements for food which is not as good for the body and eventually the diet will be your new permanent way of eating.

Weight Loss

Simply adding exercise and looking for healthier choices should naturally lead to weight loss. For those who have a goal of weight loss specifically, it is important to know realistic weight loss is one to two pounds a week. This is achieved by burning 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume in a day. The American Diabetes Association states losing 5 to 10 percent of current body weight permanently will have a huge impact on overall health, even if there is still more weight to lose.

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