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couple joggingWomen's lives are filled with responsibilities both in and outside of the home, and some women find it difficult to justify using personal time for health maintenance and prevention. As a result, many women struggle with weight issues.

According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data from 2007–2008, the overall prevalence of overweight and obese adults was 68 percent (approximately 64 percent among women).

Weight is not just a cosmetic issue. Being overweight may also increase the risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Fad Diets

While it may be tempting to go on the latest fad diet, they are not the best way to lose weight and keep it off. Instead, focus on lifestyle changes such as following a healthy eating plan, watching portion sizes, and being physically active.

Some of these diets may help you lose weight at first, but the diets may be difficult to follow for a long period of time. Most people quickly tire of them and regain any lost weight. Fad diets may be too restrictive, not providing all of the nutrients your body needs.

  1. Focus on fruits.
    • Get in a serving of fruit with breakfast. Whip up a smoothie with frozen fruit and low fat yogurt for a quick and easy meal to go.
    • How much: In general, 1 cup of fruit, or 100% fruit juice, or 1/2 cup of dried fruit can be considered as 1 cup from the fruit group. Most individuals need 1 1/2 to 2 cups per day.
  2. Vary your veggies.
    • Include all colors of veggies to get a wide variety of nutrients. Dark green leafy vegetables, red and orange vegetables, and beans and peas are all great additions to a healthy eating plan.
    • How much: In general, 1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables or vegetable juice, or 2 cups of raw leafy greens can be considered as 1 cup from the vegetable group. Most individuals need 2 to 3 cups per day.
  3. Make at least half your grains whole.
    • Substitute a whole-grain product for a refined product, such as eating whole-wheat bread instead of white bread or brown rice instead of white rice.
  4. Go lean with protein.
    • Start with a lean choice for beef, pork, and lamb. Choose products with the words “round” or “loin” in the name, such as ground round or tenderloin.
    • In general, 1 ounce of meat, poultry, or fish, 1/4 cup cooked beans, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, or 1/2 ounce of nuts or seeds can be considered a 1-ounce equivalent from the protein group. Most individuals need 5 to 6 ounces per day.
  5. Fit in your calcium.
    • Have tasty low-fat Greek yogurt as a snack.
    • In general, 1 cup of milk, yogurt, or soymilk, 1 1/2 ounces of natural cheese, or 2 ounces of processed cheese can be considered as 1 cup from the dairy group. Most individuals need 3 cups per day.

Measure it out
Figure out how big your portions really are by measuring how much the bowls, glasses, cups, and plates you normally use hold. Pour your breakfast cereal into your regular bowl. Then, pour it into a measuring cup to figure out how much you are eating. Adjust your portion size accordingly.

Think smaller
Prepare, serve, and eat smaller portions of food. Start by portioning out small amounts to eat and drink, and only go back for more if you are still hungry.

Be hands-on
Use your hand as a portion guide.

  • Palm = 3 ounces of meat
  • Fist = 1 cup of rice or pasta
  • Handful = 1 ounce of nuts
  • Thumb = 1 tablespoon of oil, mayo, or other fat
  • Thumb tip = 1 teaspoon of oil, mayo, or other fat
  • Park farther away from the store entrance when running errands at the mall or grocery store.
  • Join a walking group in the neighborhood or at the local shopping mall, and recruit a partner for support and encouragement.
  • Exercise to a workout DVD or online video at home.
  • Take opportunities to walk even more. Arrive 10 minutes early to pick up your child from sports practice so you can do a few loops around the field. Commit the first 10 minutes of your lunch break each day to a quick walk and ask a friend to go with you for accountability.


Taking Steps Toward Better Health

The journey toward healthy living isn't always easy, but there are many great resources that can provide tips and information to help encourage you along the way.

Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes