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    Gary Crandall sent me home with much 'food for thought.' As a result of his discussion with us, I will be able to exercise more effectively and efficiently. My motivation to push myself intelligently got a boost. My husband came home feeling more equipped to focus on his self-care and well-being for which I'm deeply appreciative.

    Julie H., JUMPSTART Program Participant

    by Can Do Multiple Sclerosis

    With Atkins, LA Weight Loss, Dr. Phil, South Beach and 35 billion dollars donated to weight loss routines, why are Americans getting heavier? In 2000, the prevalence of obesity in US adults was 19.8 percent, which reflects a 61 percent increase over the previous 10 years. One in three Americans have a body weight that is 20 percent greater than recommended.

    Many people want to buy a quick solution, but most people that have struggled with their weight, know it is a life-long challenge. The issue of vanity may initiate a restrictive diet, but a look at the issue of health should be considered with an investment in a realistic solution. Many people with MS have mobility restrictions which will decrease their activity level putting them at greater risk for obesity.

    Consider the risks of obesity:

    • Coronary artery disease is 4 times more frequent
    • Strokes are 6 times more frequent
    • High blood pressure is 12 times more frequent
    • Diabetes is 6 times more frequent

    How do I know if I am overweight?

    An “ideal body weight” is a weight where your blood pressure, blood sugar, blood fats are normal. Most doctors offices use “Body Mass Index” or BMI as a guide. It is a tool that considers how tall you are in comparison to your weight. The formula is {(weight in pounds)/(height in inches squared)} x 703. A BMI of 25 or greater indicates overweight and a BMI or 30 or greater indicates obesity.

    Another way to look at risk is body fat distribution. If your waist circumference is greater than 40 inches for males or greater than 35 for females this indicates a risk for heart disease and diabetes.

    *BMI charts can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site:  

    I’ve tried all the diets and I am so frustrated! How can I lose weight?

    Most of the frustration comes from unrealistic goals and unrealistic expectations such as never being able to eat any sweets. It’s important to have realistic goals. Losing ½ to 1 ½ pounds per week is significant weight loss as long as you are losing body fat and not water or muscle. Slower weight loss is more likely to be permanent weight loss. That’s 26 to 78 pounds a year.

    Learning how to eat is important for significant, long-term weight loss. Since obesity is a chronic condition, you will need to pay attention to the food you eat for the rest of your life. It is also important to identify physical activities which will allow you improve your ‘calorie burning’ efficiency. People with MS can participate in a prudent physical activity program which, when combined with proper diet, will enhance weight loss.

    What are some tips that can help me get started?

    1. Keep a food record. Write down everything you have to eat or drink in a day. There are a number of food diaries available over the Internet and you can even get one for your hand held palm.
    2. Do not skip meals or go longer than 5 hours without eating. This can drive your hunger and may lead you to overeat.
    3. Keep plenty of low calorie, delicious foods available. Keep high calorie food out-of-sight. Ask your co-workers to cooperate. Show them that when you say no, you mean no.
    4. Triple up on your vegetable intake. Nuke twice as much for dinner. Snack on raw veggies as you would chips.
    5. If you like to cook, try making soups or other healthy foods.
    6. Watch portion sizes of meats. Limit to 3 ounces or the size of a deck of cards. Substitute grilled fish or pork tenderloin for beef to add variety and decrease your fat intake.
    7. Slow down. Drink a glass of water during your meal. Start with a tomato or broth based soup or salad. You will feel much more satisfied with less calories.
    8. Eliminate distractions and pay attention to your meals. Don’t eat in front of the TV.
    9. For every hour of television you watch, spend five minutes in activity. Stretch or do yoga during the commercials.
    10. Keep desserts out of the house. When you feel like a sweet, split a treat with someone at a restaurant.
    11. If you have a cookie jar for kids – keep it filled with cookies that don’t tempt you.
    12. Get a “To Go” when you order your restaurant meal and put half of it away before you begin to eat. Or split your meal with another diner.
    13. Substitute an activity such as knitting or painting to keep your hands busy, to replace emotional or stress eating. Don’t pair this activity with any eating.
    14. Don’t give up if you go off track. Get going again – don’t wait til Monday.

    Losing weight can be more difficult for people with MS, because of decreased activity levels. However, persist with small steps and You CAN lose weight!

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    Can Do Multiple Sclerosis™ is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization.
    Charitable Organization Number: 74-2337853

    Formerly The Heuga Center for Multiple Sclerosis | Founded by Jimmie Heuga

    A national nonprofit organization, Can Do MS is a leading provider of innovative lifestyle empowerment programs
    that empower people with MS and their support partners to transform and improve their quality of life.

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