Dieticians encourage changing life habits

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For Iris Poole, it was the liquid diet. Some Augusta dieticians say it was the cabbage soup diet or the three-day diet. And a new survey by Fitness magazine found even more extreme things women would do to reach their ideal weight.

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Iris Poole rides her stationary bike at her home in west Augusta. By changing her eating and exercise habits, she lost 50 pounds in about nine months and has kept it off for more than a year.  Chris Thelen/Staff
Chris Thelen/Staff
Iris Poole rides her stationary bike at her home in west Augusta. By changing her eating and exercise habits, she lost 50 pounds in about nine months and has kept it off for more than a year.

But experts say the only proven way is over time with exercise and changed eating habits, not diets.

It is a time of year when weight is suddenly a top issue for many people.

"Nobody is interested in losing weight in December, but everyone is interested in January," said Kristen Jaskulsky, a clinical dietician with Medical College of Georgia Hospital and Clinics.

The Fitness survey of 1,000 women, published in its February issue, shows just how far some would go. For instance, 23 percent said they would shave their heads or spend a week in jail if it meant reaching their ideal weight; 21 percent would trade 10 years of life to get there; 85 percent would rather have an extra toe than be saddled with 50 more pounds.

"These are meant to be funny moments, but they do point up a serious concern that women are feeling kind of desperate at this point," said Fitness Editor in Chief Denise Brodey. "Their doctor is telling them they're overweight, there are 8 million different commercials for weight-loss drugs and weight-loss products, how am I possibly going to achieve my ideal body? That seems like it might take desperate measures."

Mary Beth Arnold, a registered dietician with the Weight Management Center at University Hospital, has seen her share of grapefruit and cabbage soup diet failures.

"I think because they want an easy fix," she said. "We are so used to instant gratification that we don't know how to delay and work for things. And when you tell them that the healthy way to lose weight is 1-2 pounds a week, that is not the right answer."

One reason for doing the survey now is to get dieters to face the truth, Ms. Brodey said.

"What we're trying to do is challenge people to admit to some of their unhealthy behaviors, and their craziness, and then to take a different approach this year," she said.

And that starts with exercise, Ms. Jaskulsky said, which means trying to take advantage of another popular New Year's resolution.

"That's why you have to catch them now, when it's January 1," she said. "I wonder how many gym memberships go unused as of February. Now, they're kind of ready."

But it is important to start the right way, Mrs. Arnold said.

"You have to build up," she said. "Some of my patients will tell me, 'I went walking and I walked for an hour and a half and I couldn't move the next day.' No, you don't want to hurt your muscles either. Make it enjoyable."

It is important to keep building up, and adding different exercises, such as weight training or doing a different class, to get the real benefits, Ms. Jaskulsky said.

Though 30 to 45 minutes five to seven times a week should be the goal for many, it doesn't have to be all at once, Mrs. Arnold said.

"Ten minutes here, 20 minutes there, those are the kinds of things that are going to get you on the road to feeling better, to feeling more energetic," Ms. Brodey added.

Eating several small meals a day instead of a few big meals is also a good strategy, Ms. Jaskulsky said.

And to think of it as eating for better health, not as a diet, Mrs. Arnold said.

"You're eating healthy to prevent disease," she said. "You try to think of it not as a diet, but you're making lifestyle changes."

For Mrs. Poole, 58, those changes started with adding exercise, walking and riding her stationary bike, and cutting out sweets.

"And I just got serious about fat, salt and sugar," she said.

Slowly, in about nine months, she lost 50 pounds and she has maintained her weight for more than a year.

And there is no shortcut to where she is now.

"It's perseverance," Mrs. Poole said. "It's just a lifestyle change."

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or


A survey by Fitness magazine of 1,000 women about their dieting habits and desire to lose weight yielded some surprising results:

- 23 percent would shave their heads to reach their ideal weight

- 23 percent would spend a week in jail to reach their goal weight

- 21 percent would trade 10 years of life to reach their ideal weight

- 47 percent would rather lose 20 pounds than live to be 100

- 85 percent would rather have an extra toe than 50 extra pounds

- But 76 percent would rather be a friendly chubby girl than a "skinny witch"


Fitness does not discriminate.

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Riverman1 01/05/08 - 09:09 am
It would be nice if

It would be nice if dieticians would finally learn the value of limiting carbohydrate intake.

Casting_Fool 01/05/08 - 01:36 pm
Ms. Brodey and Ms. Arnold are

Ms. Brodey and Ms. Arnold are right on. "... the healthy way to lose weight is 1-2 pounds a week..." is absolutely correct.

It's all about exercise, eating less and staying with it for life. Diets do not generally work, programs where you buy meals only work as long as you buy the meals, and gimmicks (like surgery) do not work for life. TV commercials show you the couple people in a million who manage to reach a goal, but not what they look like 10 years later. YOU have to change the way that you live.

My mother runs the most successful weight loss program in the United States (according to the NIH), and it's free to the participants. It's been around for over 30 years and has proven it's worth. They teach you to exercise, eat less and eat smart. No gimmicks, no meals to purchase, just plain the hard work of changing how you live and eat. And it is FREE.

It's called the Trevose Behavior Modification Program and is located in Pennsylvania. Their website is

Chuchi 01/05/08 - 02:17 pm
Diet is "die" with a "t".

Diet is "die" with a "t". It's not about being skinny; skinny is not healthy. It is about being lean, physically fit and healthy. Everything in moderation. We Americans have a tough time with moderation. Getting healthy is simple but not easy. You have to learn to cook healthy meals --- no takeout, no prepackaged foods or meals and dine out only rarely--- and you have to exercise regularly, at least 30 minutes 4-5 times a week. Then you replace unhealthy fat with healthy muscle. No healthy eating plan works without exercise because the bad habits must be replaced with good. It is okay to have treats on special occasions, just not everyday. It also helps to pray to combat constant temptation. You gotta have help to make it work.

grangermd 01/05/08 - 04:11 pm
Once again, people are

Once again, people are ignoring the benefits of nutritional cleansing. Our food supply has been depleted of nutrients due to the use of pesticide and preservatives. The addition of artificial sugars is also a killer. Have you ever wondered why we are getting fatter and sicker despite the increased use of diet products? IT'S THE TOXIC ARTIFICIAL SWEETNERS!
YES, exercise is needed but for optimal and lasting results the body needs routine cleansing similar to the way we change the oil in our cars and service ourt air conditioners.
Nutritional cleansing is not rocket science, but unfortunately it's ignored science. The established medical and dietary community has sat by making money hand over fist and failed to address the issue successfully. I encourage every one to start off 2008 with a quality nutritional cleanse.Good luck and good health.

dbrodey 01/05/08 - 04:55 pm
So glad you are getting the

So glad you are getting the FITNESS message out there—that exercise can be fun, not punishment. And you can start with small steps. See my blog, on for free videos and advice! Denise Brodey

Riverman1 01/05/08 - 04:56 pm
I notice everyone is actually

I notice everyone is actually promoting a diet labled as a way of life. I'm not knocking that because they are all actually effective and true. Learn what is junk, high glycemic carbs being among the junk, and cut it out. What does bother me is when dieticians leave out modern science and say only calories count as far as weight loss is concerned.

grangermd 01/05/08 - 06:01 pm
Absolutely! There is more to

Absolutely! There is more to the diet problem then calorie counting.Keep in mind that nutritional cleansing isn't a "diet". For more information there is an online webinar Tuesday night. Go to. It's FREE but spaces fill up quick so register early.

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