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Health & Exercise Forum

Are You Keeping Your Health and Wellness New Year's Resolutions?

Jan 25, 2010

Dr. Mackarey's Health & Exercise ForumGuest Columnist: Janet Caputo, PT, OCS

Today is the last Monday of January 2010. My associate, Janet Caputo would like to share her perspective and personal experience with health and wellness goals. She, like most of us, has had her share of struggles and offers some sage advice.

How many of you have remained true to your New Year’s resolutions? How many of you resolved to lose weight? I am sure that if you watched television since New Year’s Day, you were barraged with advertisements and infomercials for weight loss solutions! These products and programs can be very expensive but “the perfect body” is priceless! However, what plan do you have to maintain your weight loss once you have completed the “program” or finished the last of your “product”? The commercials do not give you that information because, if you discover the secret, you will not purchase anymore of the manufacturers’ weight loss plans and paraphernalia!

Personally, I have struggled with my weight all my life and have a closet full of clothes to prove it. My wardrobe consists of every size from six to sixteen! I not dare discard any item because I do not know what “size” I will require next month! I have “dieted” for approximately twenty-nine years and, through trial and (many) error, I have ascertained that the only permanent solution to maintaining my weight is a combination of a healthy diet and exercise or physical activity. What, did you think being “thin” was going to be easy?

First, let us discuss a “healthy diet”. High-fiber foods (whole grains, fruits, vegetables) are not only healthy but also provide less calories, contain less fat, and take longer to digest which delays the sensation of hunger. Select proteins that contain less fat: fish, poultry, and lean cuts of meat. Your plate should contain ¾ vegetables and your portion of meat should be the size of a deck of cards. Limit your starches (rice, potatoes, pasta, and bread) to “a serving size” which is usually ½ cup or one slice.

I know what you are going to say, “I don’t have time to prepare all that “good” food.” No excuses! Modern supermarkets have made it very convenient for consumers to eat healthy. For example, located in the produce section of most grocery stores are prepared packages of cleaned and “cut-to-fit-the-mouth” fruits and vegetables. Some manufacturers place their vegetables in bags that are designed to go straight from the shelf into your microwave. Steaming your vegetables in the microwave and broiling your meats and fish reduces not only preparation and clean-up time but also caloric consumption. I understand that fresh food is expensive but compare your weekly grocery bill to what you spend for one meal at a restaurant or to what you were willing to spend on those “diet” pills!

If you tend to be OCD, you can calculate the exact number of calories that would provide weight loss. Refer to the American Heart Association No-Fad Diet: A Personal Plan for Healthy Weight Loss for the full details. Generally you must consume 500 less calories each day to lose one pound each week. If you eat 1000 less calories each day, you can lose up to 2 pounds each week. A weight loss of greater than 2 pounds each week is not healthy and should not be attempted without the direction of physician. Starvation diets actually reduce your metabolism because your body believes that it is being starved. Therefore, your body decides to conserve calories which results in absence of weight loss.

In addition to limiting caloric intake, you must incorporate exercise or at least increase your physical activity. Exercise and physical activity are requisite for weight loss because they burn fat and calories. The AHA recommends 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week and defines “exercise” as performing an activity that elevates your heart rate to your target heart rate. The target heart rate is 60% to 85% of your age predicted maximum heart rate (APMHR) which can be calculated using this formula: 220 – your age = APMHR. Your ability to “exercise” may be limited because of a health issue or physical disability but you can still increase your physical activity! Get up off that couch or get out of that bed and MOVE! Cleaning the house, cutting the grass, washing the car, taking a walk, using the stairs, and dancing with friends are some ideas to expend calories through physical activity.

If you are one of those unfortunate few who have tried these suggestions and failed to lose weight, then you may have a metabolic problem that would need to be addressed by a specialist. If you discover your decision to eat is not based on a sensation of hunger but rather on a feeling of depression or anxiety, then you made require some counseling in order for your weight loss program to be successful. Before initiating any exercise program or new diet regimen, please discuss your plans with your physician. Your doctor can provide guidance for proper decision making or may refer you to a weight loss specialist for additional assistance.

Guest Columist: Janet Caputo, PT, OCS is an associate and clinic director at Mackarey & Mackarey Physical Therapy Consultants, LLC in downtown Scranton where she practices orthopedic and sports physical therapy. She is also a doctor of physical therapy student at the University of Scranton.

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email:

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an affiliated faculty member at the University of Scranton, PT Dept.