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Change lifestyle to limit weight gain
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Dropping a few pounds to look great for wedding pictures may be a worthy goal, but nutritionists urge brides and grooms to concentrate on long-term lifestyle changes rather than quick fixes.
Statistics show that more than half of all Americans are overweight, and nearly 20 percent are obese. Even trim newlyweds must fend off the extra pounds that seem to haunt new couples.
"When planning to lose weight, be sure to maintain your health, so look at your overall lifestyle," said Melissa Mixon, human nutrition specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. "Weight management has to do with diet, physical activity and behavior modification."
Mixon said successful long-term weight loss and maintenance depends on all three factors. As humans get older, metabolism slows and muscle mass diminishes unless an effort is made to maintain it. Activity levels, too, tend to lessen with age.
"All of that plays into how many calories we burn, so the number of calories a person burns at age 20 is more than what is burned at age 40," Mixon said.
Mixon said a weight loss of one half to not more than two pounds a week is a healthy rate as long as it's based on a change in eating habits and lifestyle.
"Weight management is not something you go on today and off tomorrow," Mixon said. "It has to be a lifestyle change, or the weight is gone today and here tomorrow."
Mixon cautioned against diets that promise dramatic weight loss in a short period. She said these type of products seldom deliver, the weight almost always returns and they can have serious health consequences.
Many couples don't need to lose weight, but rather want to keep it off after getting married. Mixon said it is fairly common for newly married couples to put on weight because of the changes marriage brings.
"If a person has been part of a household where they were involved in meal preparation, they're used to preparing larger quantities," Mixon said. "If they continue to prepare large quantities, they may tend to eat more than they should."
Many couples marry shortly after college and find their level of activity decreases once college life and its requirements and opportunities are behind them. Additionally, mealtime for newlyweds can become much more of a social time than before, making it easy to overindulge.
"One key thing couples can do is focus on portion sizes. Americans have totally lost focus of what a portion is because everything is supersized these days," Mixon said. "Eat according to the food pyramid, watching portion sizes and how many of each item you've eaten."
She also urged newlyweds to make regular physical activity a habit.
"You have the best exercise partner there is as a newlywed," Mixon said. "Make a commitment to exercise at least three to five times a week. Exercising helps you maintain muscle mass, burn calories, keep your heart healthy and you just feel better afterwards."
For more information on weight management, contact the local county Extension office or visit the Extension Service website at www.msucares.com.