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NEWS | March 12, 2009

National Nutrition Month: Winning at losing

By 1st Lt. Sarah Mueller 779th Medical Support Squadron clinical dietician

There is no better time to reflect on your diet and lifestyle than March, National Nutrition Month. Come along with me as I uncover ways to become a healthier, happier you.

Whether you have 10 or 100 pounds to lose, you are probably feeling overwhelmed by different (and sometimes faulty) information telling you how to actually do it. Our society further confuses us by trying to sell us pills and shakes and fad diets that promise to make our weight dreams come true. True, healthy weight loss only comes about by consuming fewer calories than you burn. Any diet that promises weight loss by making drastic lifestyle changes may produce short-term effects, but will only leave you feeling defeated when you stop the fad and return to your normal habits.

In the next few weeks, we will cover various tried and true behaviors for weight loss while becoming healthier, which may - in turn - lead to weight loss. It is important to remember that health is not all about a number on a scale. It is about adopting healthy habits so that we (and our families) can become overall better nourished and happier.

Once you identify a behavior that you want to adopt, it is important to get the support of your family and friends, allowing yourself to be held accountable. It may also be necessary to raid the cupboards and toss unhealthy choices (high fat snack foods, regular sodas, and refrigerated biscuits) and replace them with good choices (walnuts, canned salmon, whole wheat breads and pastas, and tea).

If weight loss is your goal, now is also the time to become comfortable with your weight. Step on a scale to write down your initial, "pre-lifestyle changes" weight. Make or print a weight chart to keep above your scale or on your fridge, and pick a specific time and day of the week to weigh yourself in, wearing generally the same thing each time. Stick to this day and time like glue and ask your family to gently remind you to stick to your commitment. Write it in your calendar and don't weigh in more than once a week.

You should set small goals. Let's try to lose five pounds. Only half a pound to two pounds a week is considered healthy weight loss. So it will take us three to four weeks to take off five pounds. In the next three weeks, I will provide you the various tools you need to begin your road to good nutrition. This next week, begin gathering your other tools - a good scale, a weigh-in chart, an accountability partner, a healthy pantry and refrigerator and an idea to reward yourself with when you lose five pounds (for example, a pedicure or a new book). Throughout this challenge, I would love to hear from you. E-mail me to share your challenges, and as we progress, your success stories at