Campus: CSU Northridge -- February 01, 2002

CSUN Professor Offers Tips for Staying Healthy During the New Year

So you've made a resolution to get healthier this year. That was the easy part, now you've got to make some changes.

Cal State Northridge nutrition professor Deirdre M. Larkin has some realistic tips for keeping your New Year's resolution past January. "The first thing is to make changes very slowly, and to make them specific, such as 'I'm going to try one new vegetable every week,'" said Larkin, who teaches in CSUN's Department of Family Environmental Sciences. Larkin said taking on too much or trying to make too dramatic a change is just setting yourself up for a letdown.

Another important thing that people need to remember is to "be patient," Larkin said. "Change comes slowly, so give yourself time," she said. "Don't expect things to be exactly right, even in a month, because change takes time." Patience is particularly important, said Larkin, if one of your goals is to lose weight.

"Don't lose more than two pounds a week," she said. "If you lose weight too fast, you are more likely to gain it back." Larkin said that as people try to make healthy changes in their lives, they need to start thinking of their food intake as a "lifestyle" not a diet.

"Diet is a four-letter word," she said. She said healthy lifestyles are not as hard to maintain as people think. "It can be as simple as taking a sip of water every time you pass a water fountain to ensure that you get the water you need by the end of the day, particularly if you are not one of those people who carries a water bottle around with you everywhere," Larkin said.
She also suggested parking farther away from the mall entrance than you normally do when you're shopping. Or try drinking 1% milk if you normally drink 2%, or try 2% if you normally drink whole milk.

"Remember your five fruits and vegetables a day," she said. "The suggested serving sizes are a lot smaller than people think, and it's not that hard to do."

She also suggests eating colorful foods like carrots, blueberries, purple grapes, red peppers, tomatoes and deep green vegetables, spinach and broccoli. "They're good for you and they taste good if you give them a try," she said. She said it is also important not to get caught up by all the advertising for fitness clubs that feature the taut, toned bodies of professional athletes and models. "They can be kind of intimidating because you think that you'll never look like that," she said. "People need to remember that some of those people have had surgical help, or have the time to spend hours on end exercising all day.

"Exercise does not have to be long or hard," Larkin said. "People should exercise for 30 minutes each day, and that can be broken up into three 10-minute segments, which is really pretty manageable."

Larkin said keeping that New Year's resolution to get healthier really isn't that hard.
"It really is a matter of choice, and patience," she said.

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