The great health resolution: Connie's exercises and eating strategies


Meet Connie Floyd

Health goal: Lose 35 pounds

Connie’s 5 exercising strategies

1. Aim for consistency
To help establish a regular exercise routine, Connie met with personal trainer Consie Severson. During her first session, Connie got kudos for walking to work (five kilometres a week) and her weightlifting regimen (she lifts 10-pound weights, targeting five different muscle groups). Severson recommended a five-minute warm-up, followed by weightlifting and then cardio.

2. Get the right heart rate
Severson wants Connie to monitor her heart rate every 10 minutes while exercising, aiming to keep the beats per minute at 145. The low rate will enable Connie to exercise longer, which will help burn stored body fat better.

3. Target problem areas
To help Connie tone her tummy, Severson also suggested that she start doing regular exercises to tone her abdominal muscles.

4. Vary the workouts
Connie’s weekly exercise program now includes two weightlifting sessions, running and one cardio or cross-training session. By trying different machines, Connie will use different muscles for quicker results. For example, she might spend 15 minutes on the treadmill, then 10 minutes on the exercise bike and finally 10 minutes on the elliptical trainer.

5. Have progress monitored
Severson will meet with Connie every six weeks or so to discuss what’s working and make adjustments to the program. “If I’m held accountable, I do it. Having Robyn and Consie reinforce what I should be doing makes me feel more confident,” says Connie.

Connie’s 5 eating strategies

At their first session
Registered dietitian Robyn Cawley took Connie’s measurements (40-33-44). She stands five feet four inches tall and weighs 179 pounds. Her body mass index (BMI) is 30, putting Connie at higher risk for diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. (Calculate your BMI.) To achieve a healthy BMI of 25 or less, Connie will aim to drop five to 10 pounds initially to reduce her risk of disease right away. Her long-term goal is to lose 35 pounds total. Here’s how she’s going to do it:

1. Savour forbidden foods in moderation
Cawley’s approach to weight management doesn’t involve dieting. There are no banned foods, just those you should eat more often and others you should indulge in less frequently. “Healthful eating and fitness should fit into your life rather than your life revolving around them,” she says.

2. Write it all down
Before the first counselling session, Cawley asked Connie to keep a food diary. With her diet of whole grains, low-fat milk, plenty of fruit, veggies and water, Connie is on the right track, says Cawley. But she makes some common mistakes such as skimping on lunch. Connie brown bags it every workday, toting cut-up veggies with salad dressing for her midday meal, which she believes is a sure way to lose weight and stay healthy. But she’s actually not eating enough at that time of day, says Cawley, which explains why she feels ravenous after work and starts nibbling on cookies while preparing dinner. To feel satisfied throughout the day, Connie needs to add grains and protein, such as tuna or sugar-free peanut butter on whole-wheat bread, to her lunch bag.

3. Watch portions
Cawley suggests that every food Connie prepares be of moderate size. Meat and fish servings should be no larger than the palm of her hand; each whole-grain serving–two per meal–should be no bigger than a 1/2 cup (125 mL) brown rice or pasta, a slice of pumpernickel bread or 3/4 cup (175 mL) high-fibre cereal such as bran flakes (see Sizing up servings). Cawley recommends eating small portions of heart-healthy foods such as olive oil salad dressings, nuts and salmon.

Connie should read food labels to watch for unhealthful hydrogenated fats, found in hard margarine and baked goods such as cookies. Instead of relying on prepared foods such as frozen macaroni and cheese or grabbing a quick meal while she’s on the run, Cawley advises Connie to plan a week’s worth of meals and cook them in bulk on the weekends. That way, she can freeze them for quick and easy future dinners.
Connie’s food diary revealed a fondness for corn chips, ice cream, apple strudel and rice cereal squares. The good news: she doesn’t have to banish any of them. If she wants a treat every once in a while, all she has to do is follow it up with a brisk 15-minute walk within one hour of indulging.

4. Steer clear of emotional eating
Connie sometimes eats when she’s not hungry. “The diary helped me see that I was overeating because I was bored or stressed.” When worrying about the family finances (husband Brian has been on disability leave for four years with a shoulder injury), she sometimes reaches for a candy bar. Cawley recommends distractions to deal with her emotional eating, such as taking a walk after dinner, reading a novel by a favourite author or tidying the house.

5. Eat slowly
Connie often wolfs down her food because she’s on the go. Since it takes 20 minutes for the stomach to send the message that it’s full, she needs to slow down. If she still feels hungry after a meal, she should try waiting for 15 minutes to see if the pangs pass. If they don’t, then she can opt to munch on leftover vegetables or have a piece of fruit.Cawley advises Connie to continue keeping a food diary, tallying up her servings from the four food groups, until she can tell if her plate is balanced just by looking at it. (Women who write down what they eat tend to be more successful at weight loss.) The plan can be adapted to fit Connie’s changing needs. If she finds she still feels hungry a lot of the time or is exercising more strenuously, Cawley may add more servings.