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Viewpoint: Be well for a healthy new year

Andrew Akhaphong

Andrew Akhaphong is a registered dietitian, precision nutrition sports coach and an ACTION certified personal trainer for Faribault Hy-Vee. He is a native of Farmington. He can be reached at 1177dietitian2@hy-vee.com or 507-334-2085.

Now that the holiday season is passed us, many look forward to the new year to start a clean slate. Weight management ranks as one of the most common resolutions for New Year's. This includes goals such as eating healthier, becoming lean or being able to run longer distances.

Follow these tips on how to successfully implement this lifestyle change.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends a goal of 1 to 2 pounds lost per week for the first six months of managing weight. This will allow your body to readjust its metabolism and hormone responses safely; especially if you are on medications like a diuretic, anticoagulant or chemotherapeutic agent.

Review medications. Your pharmacist or doctor can go over your current medications for side effects that may impact your weight or is affected by weight. Consult with a doctor before starting a fitness regimen.

Exercise is not just for the gym. Get your steps in by choosing the stairs instead of the elevator, do sit-ups between TV commercials or park the car farther away from the entrance of a store and brisk walk.

Skip counting calories — it is complicated and time consuming. Focus on portion sizes instead. If you are used to eating four slices of pizza in one sitting, go ahead and do it. Next time you order pizza, wean down to three and again to two slices on another day. Once you successfully reached your goal, focus on another goal such as reducing your soda intake. Remember, baby steps.

Focus on protein and fiber. Our body produces two hunger hormones: Ghrelin stimulates our appetite and is produced by the stomach, while leptin is the appetite suppressor made by our fat cells. Research shows a diet higher in protein and fiber helps suppress ghrelin production more effectively. Focus on lean meats such as skinless chicken breast, salmon, pork loin, sirloin steak, peanut butter, whole wheat, beans and fresh fruit and vegetables.

Watch the salt (sodium). For many of us who swell easily or have congestive heart failure, retaining fluid skews our weight. Look for items that are low salt or salt free. There are even processed foods like can soup and deli meats that are now lower in sodium. Choose salt-free seasonings like Mrs. Dash or McCormick. As for Himalayan and sea salt, there is no difference except for its texture and flavor. Consult with your doctor before choosing a potassium-based salt as it may affect your heart medications.

Remember. Be positive. Make it fun. Invite a family member or friend to join you on your lifestyle journey. Inform your social group how important this journey is for you. Document your progress and feelings about your workout or meal — learn from it and better yourself next time.

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