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Experts offer weight loss tips

Eating -- yes, eating -- is one of the top ways to stay healthy and even lose weight as the new year begins, say several Mitchell dieticians and trainers.

It's all about eating right and understanding that weight loss progress can and likely will be a slow process, and not necessarily one that can be achieved alone through a New Year's resolution.

"Breakfast gives you that fuel for the entire day," says Jarod Guthmiller, head of the athletic department at Dakota Wesleyan University. "Skipping breakfast is like running your car without gas. Eating jumpstarts your metabolism, which helps you burn fat."

Guthmiller also said that in addition to breakfast, it's a good idea for people to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into the diet, supplying a body with nutrients -- vitamins and minerals -- needed to produce energy. By grabbing an apple or banana on the way out the door, vending machine temptations disappear.

When asked, six dieticians, trainers and fitness experts from Mitchell last week said regular exercise and a healthy diet are the true keys to losing weight.

Yet they also acknowledge that not everyone commits to doing the extra work required to lose weight, especially if it becomes overwhelming.

The fitness trainers agreed that gym memberships rise right after the start of each new year, and the activity rate generally falls one to three months after. Lack of motivation, stress, a busy schedule or just plain laziness appear to be the culprits.

Setting realistic goals should be the first priority, says Adele Jacobson, nursing program director at Dakota Wesleyan University. She suggests people limit themselves to just one change at a time in their level of activity, and also suggests people choose an activity that can be integrated easily into everyday life.

"It takes a long period of time to put on weight," says Jacobson. "There's no difference for losing weight. It's a gradual process."

Nancy Miller and Linda Bartl, nutritionists at Avera Queen of Peace Hospital, agree. They said 3,500 calories equals just 1 pound, and losing one to two pounds a week is very typical.

They suggest looking at weight loss as a new lifestyle, and not a new diet.

Virginia Limberg, fitness coordinator at the Mitchell Recreation Center, says that when judging weight and weight-loss progress, it's important to see the bigger picture. Many TV shows depicting weight-loss competitions involve on-site doctors, trainers and specialists geared to significant and immediate weight-loss regimens. It's not recommended to try such a regimen alone.

Said Bartl: "These participants are exercising six or seven hours a day because it is their job."

Simple rules of common sense -- such as parking in the spot farthest from the door at the grocery store -- can truly help those who wish to shed a few pounds or just want to live healthier, said Guthmiller. Basic chores, grocery shopping and shoveling snow can burn those extra calories.

For those who are hitting the gym but feel the routine isn't effective, Samson Laufmann, fitness coordinator at Avera Wellness Center, suggests using use the F.I.T Principle, which stands for frequency, intensity and time.

He said it's a good idea to increase one factor, whether it's adding more weight or more time to your routine, to keep the body guessing and creating results.

He said that anyone who does the same workout every day should find a buddy and share ideas. Possibilities are endless.

But the biggest factor of all is to just stay motivated. The fitness experts say it's best to stick with it and avoid the sweets.

And take the stairs.

Following are weight-loss hints from local trainers, dieticians and wellness experts:

Adele Jacobson, program director, Dakota Wesleyan University nursing department:

1. Keep a food diary.

2. Make one easy change to your diet at a time.

3. Choose a physical activity that can easily be integrated into your life style.

4. Substitute fruits and vegetables for higher calorie snacks.

5. Have healthy snacks ready, stored in your refrigerator, and easily accessible.

Nancy Miller, Avera Queen of Peace dietician:

1. Don't skip breakfast.

2. Keep portions under control

3. When at a restaurant, box up half of your meal beforehand, or share with friend or spouse.

4. Read food labels and check serving sizes.

5. Make realistic goals. Stay away from "fad" diets.

Jarod Guthmiller, head trainer at Dakota Wesleyan University:

1. Increase physical activity; don't get concerned with the term "exercise".

2. Portion your food into four or five small meals throughout the day.

3. Don't get concerned with counting calories. Just eat foods that are low in fat and avoid sweets and alcohol.

4. Avoid the scale. Gauge your weight loss by how well your clothes are fitting and self perception.

5. Avoid the "fad" diets and supplements. Rest is also key. Try to achieve at least 7-8 hours of sleep at night.

Virginia Limberg fitness coordinator of Parks and Recreation Center:

1. Focus more on what you can add (whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins) rather than what you're giving up.

2. Try not to let yourself get to the point where you're so starving, keep snacks such as fruits and nuts with you to munch on.

3. Lace up your sneakers more often. It's all about putting out more than you take in.

4. Start small, don't get overwhelmed, and remember the most important thing is to be consistent.

5. Look at the big picture. Feeling good in your skin by making healthy choices will keep you motivated to stay on track.

Sam Laufmann, trainer at Avera Queen of Peace Wellness Center:

1. Use a registered dietitian and avoid fad diets.

2. Eat breakfast, don't skip it.

3. Exercise. Work out with a partner or schedule a personal training session.

4. Use the F.I.T Principle (Frequency, Intensity, and Time).

5. Stay motivated and try new things.

Linda Bartl, Avera Queen of Peace nutritionist:

1. Set realistic goals.

2. Be accountable; weigh in front of someone.

3. Keep a food diary.

4. Look at your food choices. Make sure your diet is adequate in calcium and protein-rich foods.

5. Look at the big picture; have patience.