Strategies for shedding those holiday pounds


By Roberta Tolan

PREVIEW columnist

Most people add a couple of extra pounds over the holiday season and the new year often starts with weight loss goals and resolutions to go to the gym more frequently. But diets and good intentions often fall by the wayside as the busy work-a-day world gets into high gear. This can lead to frustration and actual weight gain if weight-loss goals are not realistic and eating habits don’t change. The most effective way to lose weight and maintain weight-loss over time is to monitor calorie intake, follow a healthy balanced diet and be physically active.

Calorie requirements vary from person to person and factors such as age, gender, body size and composition, physical condition and activity level all play a role. To maintain weight, the number of calories consumed must equal the number of calories the body burns. For those trying to lose weight, the number of calories consumed must be fewer than the number burned each day. The most effective way to accomplish weight loss is to cut back on calories by decreasing food intake while increasing physical activity. To estimate your daily calorie requirements, visit the website

An important component of successful weight loss and weight maintenance is including fruits and vegetables, whole-grains and fat-free dairy products. Fruits and vegetables, especially those that are bright in color (dark green or red and orange), provide important antioxidants that may play a vital role in disease prevention as well as help in weight loss and maintenance. Whole grains are also an important component of a healthy diet and contain high levels of important nutrients as well as dietary fiber. Low-fat or fat-free dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese will provide adequate nutrients along with fewer calories from fat.

On the other hand, foods to avoid or decrease in consumption include foods high in fat, sodium and added sugar. Fat contains 9 calories per gram, which is more than twice the calories of protein and carbohydrates. Limiting one’s fat intake will not only lower overall dietary fat and calories, but also reduce a critical risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Lowering sodium intake is also an important component of a healthful diet. Foods high in sodium are often processed, pre-packaged and may have more calories from added fats and refined sugar. Products with added sugar include sugar-sweetened beverages (such as soda, sports drinks and energy drinks), and items such as cookies, pastries, ice cream and candy. These products are often highly processed and contain empty calories (foods that contain calories of little nutritional value).

Strategies to change eating behaviors

The following behavior change techniques can help alter poor eating habits:

Record unhealthy eating habits in order to identify places, emotions or activities that may lead to inappropriate eating.

Make simple changes such as eating meals away from the television or computer. When feeling stressed, choose to go for a walk or call a friend instead of eating unhealthy foods.

Pay attention to portion size when cutting back on the number of calories consumed.

Physical activity

Those who alter their eating habits and stay physically active are the most successful at losing weight and maintaining weight-loss. Physical activity burns calories, raises metabolism and helps with body fat loss. Staying active also promotes a sense of well being, reduces stress and has beneficial effects on HDL or “good” cholesterol.

Find an activity that is enjoyable. If additional health problems also accompany being overweight, consult with a medical professional before beginning an exercise program. Start slowly, and then work up to at least three to five 30-minute sessions of moderate exercise per week, or three to five 15-minute sessions of vigorous exercise per week. Strengthening exercises such as sit ups or weight lifting should also be incorporated two days per week.

For additional information on weight-loss products, programs and diets, visit the CSU Extension website at and download fact sheet No. 9.363.

Free radon presentations and test kits 

Free presentations about radon detection and mitigation will be offered at the CSU Extension office in Pagosa Springs on Jan. 28 at 4 p.m. and again on Feb. 25 at 1 p.m. Those attending a radon presentation can pick up a free radon testing kit while supplies last.

CPR and first aid classes 

CPR and first aid certification classes are now being offered monthly by the CSU Extension office on the second Monday and Wednesday of each month from 6-10 p.m. Anyone needing to receive or renew certification can register by calling 264-5931. We will also attempt to schedule classes on additional dates with five or more registrations. Cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/first aid and $55 for CPR, first aid or recertification. The type of first aid information provided will vary by the needs of the audience.

Food preservation classes

The CSU Extension Office in Archuleta County is offering a series of classes on basic food preservation. Each class will cover basics of food spoilage, food-borne illnesses, high-altitude adjustments and canning. Please contact 264-5931 or to register. Space is limited, so reservations will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Cost for the entire class series is $45 if paid in advance. Each individual class is $10 if paid in advance or $15 at the door. Pagosa class schedule:

Jan. 27 — Jams and Jellies, 1 or 6 p.m.

Feb. 10 and 24 — Whole Fruit Canned, 1 or 6 p.m.

March 10 and 24 — Pickling/Freezing/Drying, 1 or 6 p.m.

April 14 and 28 — Tomatoes and Salsa-Canned, 1 or 6 p.m.

May 5 and 19 — Vegetables/Pressure Canning, 1 or 6 p.m.

Arboles class schedule:

Feb. 11 — Whole Fruit Canned, 1 p.m.

March 11 — Pickling/Freezing/Drying, 1 p.m.

April 15 — Tomatoes and Salsa-Canned, 1 p.m.

May 6 — Vegetables/Pressure Canning, 1 p.m.