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January 23, 2008 > Forget Fad Diets and Quick Weight-Loss Schemes

Forget Fad Diets and Quick Weight-Loss Schemes

Healthy Weight Week Highlights Healthy Lifestyle Changes

In our weight-obsessed culture, we are bombarded with product claims about quick and easy weight loss. Especially in January, when so many have put losing weight at the top of their list of New Year's resolutions.
Advertisers want you to believe it's possible to lose 40 pounds simply by cleansing your body of unwanted waste. Or how about a pill that helps you drop pounds without changing the way you eat or live?
The Healthy Weight Network draws attention to these types of false claims every year during Healthy Weight Week (January 20-26). This year the group presented "Slim Chance Awards" for the worst diet products and promotions in 2007.
The award for Most Outrageous Claim was given to Evercleanse, which claims that up to 40 pounds of excess body weight can be attributed to food, waste and feces stuck inside the body.
The Worst Product award was presented to HoodiaHerbal (also called Hoodia Maximum Strength) for falsely claiming the supposed "hoodia" product causes permanent weight loss of as much as 40 pounds a month.
Bio SpeedSLIM won the Worst Claim award with its promise to "reduce the formation of excess fat in the body and promote the burning of excess fat." Its website states that "clinical studies show you do not have to change your eating habits or activity to lose weight with Bio SpeedSLIM."
Worst Gimmick went to the Hollywood Detox Body Wrap, which claims it can draw toxins out through the skin, causing the long-term loss of four to six inches in less than an hour.
Unfortunately, there is no easy path to weight loss. Taking the right steps toward a healthy lifestyle is your best bet this January and all year long.
"There is no quick fix," said Anna Mazzei, a registered dietician at Washington Hospital. "It's all about lifestyle changes."
Eat Right and Exercise
No fad diet can change the basic law of nature - if you eat more calories than your body uses, you will gain weight. It's really that simple.
Healthy Weight Week focuses on adopting healthy habits you can live with for the rest of your life. People of all weights and sizes are encouraged to stop "dieting" and get on with living life in a healthy way, which includes eating right and moving your body.
"You should start out by picking something you can be successful at that will improve your health and build on it," Mazzei said. "You can start by taking a 10-minute walk every day and then adding five minutes each week until you reach a goal of 30 to 40 minutes. Take the stairs if you usually use the elevator or park your car in the back of the parking lot so you have farther to walk."
The American Dietetic Association gives these helpful tips for adopting a healthier lifestyle one step at a time:
Track your food choices. Keep a journal of what you eat or drink as well as how much and why. For example, how often do you eat out of boredom?
Set realistic goals. Decide what you want to achieve, such as a healthier weight or lower cholesterol.
Make a plan for change. Divide big goals such as "I want to eat better" into smaller, more specific goals like "I will eat more whole grains." Determine the practical steps you need to take to get there such as making sandwiches and toast with whole grain bread and switching from white to brown rice.
Re-evaluate your plan every month or two. Monitor how the changes you are making fit with your goals and adjust your plan if needed.
Be patient. Real change takes time. Most health goals are a lifelong commitment. Stick with your plan and remember that small steps toward your goal add up over time.
Get help from a qualified professional. A registered dietician like Mazzei is your best source for reliable and up-to-date food and nutrition information as well as practical advice for daily living.
"Be realistic about the changes you can make and don't give up. As little as a 5 percent weight loss can improve health," she said. "The only diet and exercise plan that will work for a lifetime is one you are happy with."

Join a New Women's Nutrition Program
Geared exclusively for women, Washington Hospital's new "Right Weigh" nutrition program is taught by a registered dietitian and promotes activity, nutrition and behavioral lifestyle changes for long term weight loss and improved health. Group classes begin on Tuesday, February 5. To schedule a private consultation or to find out more information about this 12 week program, contact Kathy Hesser, R.N., Washington Women's Center Coordinator at (510) 608-1356.

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