It’s probably the most often made New Year’s Resolution: lose weight and get into shape. The gyms are packed, the sports stores sell out of equipment, and the streets are cluttered with new joggers. People make this promise year after year, and typically, by the end of January, most of them have given up.
However, some don’t. Sometimes, that New Year’s resolution becomes attainable and do-able. Sometimes, people really do succeed when they vow, on January 1, to lose weight and get into shape. I did it, and I asked several other successful dieters to share their successes with us.
Kelly Guy, of the blog, No Thanks to Cake, says, “If I were to look back at my New Year’s resolutions for the past 10 years, weight loss was always on the list. Sometimes I actually resolved to lose the extra weight, and even when I didn’t it was in the front of my mind.” She’s lost 74 pounds so far and is close to reaching her goal, although she shares, “I didn’t hit my goal in 2011. I still have 17 lbs remaining before I hit my weight loss goal; however, I don’t believe weight loss will be on my to-do list this year. Healthy living has become a way of life; it’s no longer something that I’m desperately trying to achieve and that I will maintain. ”
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“Lose weight like a man,” says Charles Barkley, the newest spokesperson for Weight Watchers. The former NBA superstar, who has been nicknamed “Round Mound of Rebound,” has gotten tired of his weight and pledged to drop it, once and for all. At his highest weight, the 48-year-old retired basketball star weighed more than 350 pounds.
Famous for a 1993 Nike ad in which he says “I am not a role model. I’m not paid to be a role model. I am paid to wreak havoc on the basketball court. Parents should be role models,” Barkley has changed his tune.
In the Weight Watchers ads, slated to run most often during sporting events, Barkley says “I am still not a role model. But maybe I can change that. Maybe if I tell you I’m losing weight and getting healthy, you’d see that you can too.” Nowhere in the advertisements does he mention black men specifically, but the message of “health first” is one that is very often overlooked by men, especially men of color. They are often underrepresented in the weight loss field, often to the gross extremes of encouraging heaviness with the popularity of such men as “The Notorious B.I.G.”, and the recent passing of comedian Patrice O’Neal.
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UPDATE [1/10/12]: The FDA announced this week that a major contraindication has been lifted from the weight loss drug Qnexa, broadening the potential market for the drug. Previously, the FDA was concerned that women of childbearing age who ingested one of the drug’s ingredients might have children with a higher rate of birth defects, but further research has shown the danger is only present for women who took the drug during pregnancy. Some experts expect the drug will be approved by the spring.
There is a new weight loss drug on the horizon. Qnexa, from parent company Vivus, Inc., consists of a combination of two prescription drugs – Phentermine and Topiramate. It has been effective in clinical studies at helping those who take it lose up to 15 percent of their body weight. There have also been indicators of increasing some cardiovascular actions. In addition, Qnexa also appears to improve sleep apnea, a condition in which those who suffer can stop breathing during their sleep cycles.
Phentermine is well known by dieters, but Topiramate has not been used in the weight loss field. It is prescribed as an anti-convulsant, but patients who have used it have reported weight loss as a side effect. It is also prescribed under the name Topamax for migraine use. Combining the two medications together has shown to increase the weight loss results of either drug when it was taken singly. Multiple levels of each drug have been combined in field testing, and the company feels that they have found the “magic” levels.
Qnexa works as an appetite suppressant, allowing a patient to eat markedly less and still feel full. It’s been hailed as the most effective weight loss medication since Fen-Phen.
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The newest yearly score for the nutrition of United States citizens confirms what we’ve all known but most of us love to ignore – the American way of eating leaves much to be desired in terms of nutrition. According the the CDC, we are not eating enough green vegetables or whole grains, but going overboard on the sweets. This validates what we’ve all suspected, especially with the proliferation of fast food restaurants and super size combos available with nary a spinach salad in sight. Maybe calling attention to this will help us brush up on our nutrition needs for 2012.
Our scores over the past several years have remained dismally low and this year was no exception. The average American overall diet score did not top 60 points out of 100 on the Healthy Eating Index. This index, created in 2005 to determine how nutritiously America ate and to look for ways to improve diets. The Index rates us on our ingestion of specific food groups, including whole fruits, dark green and orange vegetables, whole grains, milk, meat and beans, oils, fats, sodium, alcohol, and added sugar. In the most recent reporting, women tended to score significantly higher than their male counterparts, particularly in the areas of fruits and vegetables. Older people, as well as those who completed higher education levels, also had better scores.
Bethene Ervin, PhD, RD, reported these facts in a National Health Statistics Report and says that the scores indicate that most Americans’ diets need improvement. At the conclusion of her report, Ervin said that most Americans need to add whole grains, leafy dark greens and fruits to their diet and reduce the intake of sugars and alcohol.
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Actress Drew Barrymore has been on our radar for years, ever since she starred in the movie E.T. as a small child. She’s been known for many things, among them her on and off vegetarian lifestyle. In 2002, she gave up on being a vegetarian in order to wear fun clothes, telling IMDB “…Dressing is like an art form – it’s so much fun.” She was back on the vegetarian bandwagon in 2010 and then blamed the diet for making her a picky eater.
Now that she’s dating Will Kopelman, she’s back to eating meat. She says that she finds vegetarianism simply too difficult to do on her own. She loves to cook for her boyfriend and finds it easier to make the same foods for both of them. Barrymore follows a list of celebrities who are “on again, off again” with vegetarianism, including Natalie Portman, who famously gave up her vegan lifestyle during her pregnancy.
People choose to become vegetarians for many reasons, but more choose it for the health benefits than any other reason. According to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarians tend to weigh less, have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as reduced rates of cancer and type 2 diabetes compared to meat eaters. Despite these benefits, many people who try to follow a vegetarian lifestyle don’t stay with it long term.
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