Continuing on the Road to Health - MetroFamily Magazine
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Continuing on the Road to Health

by LaDonna Dunlop

Reading Time: 2 minutes 

Follow MetroFamily Magazine’s first Iron Mom, ShaRhonda Burton, as she works to create a healthier lifestyle for herself and her family.

ShaRhonda won a contest sponsored by MFM and 180 Personal Training. It provides her with a year of personal training, nutritional counseling, and life coach services. This month, nutritionist LaDonna Dunlop updates us on the work she and ShaRhonda have done.

Recently dietitians have become convinced that any attempt to lose weight should include regular exercise. The FDA’s new My Pyramid nutrition guide, which replaced the Food Guide Pyramid touted a few years ago, emphasizes regular exercise as a key to good health.

Weight loss is measured by calories in versus calories out. To lose weight, a person has to burn more calories than he or she actually takes in so the body has to burn fat reserves for additional energy. When I met ShaRhonda Burton last month, I was impressed at how far she had come by modifying her diet and dedicating herself to increasing her physical activity. As I write, she’s lost 48 pounds (since September, 2007)!

One of the first things ShaRhonda and I did during her session was calculate just how many calories she really needs. ShaRhonda stressed that she is not dieting, but making a lifestyle change—one of eating healthy foods in moderate amounts.

Already, ShaRhonda has a good understanding about how to eat well. She has been keeping a food journal for some time and this log reflects the fact that she has been working hard to modify her eating habits.

It’s important to get the recommended daily servings in the different food groups even when reducing caloric intake. Everyone needs five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. The way those vegetables are prepared is important. Obviously, fried vegetables have more fat and calories than steamed vegetables. By baking and grilling lean meats and vegetables instead of frying them, and by using healthier fats like canola or olive oil when cooking, ShaRhonda can get her recommended daily servings while restricting overall calories.

Another area of concern for ShaRhonda was serving size. “I love to eat and portion control is something I need to work on,” ShaRhonda said. I suggested that she use a smaller plate during meals at home. She can also decide—up front—to not allow herself to have second helpings and to not prepare more food than she and her family can healthfully consume in one sitting.

ShaRhonda will continue to keep a food journal which helps her to be accountable for her food and drink intake. This weight loss tool is helpful because it allows her to identify areas of improvement and weakness. ShaRhonda will continue to work with Chris, her personal trainer, and we will continue to keep in close contact in the next few weeks. We will monitor her progress and work together when she has the urge to overeat.

I think that as ShaRhonda accomplishes her goals of a healthier weight, more energy, and a better frame of mind, she will find the motivation she needs to continue her success. Already she has been an inspiration to those around her.

LaDonna Dunlop is a Registered Dietitian and Family and Consumer Sciences Educator for OSU Cooperative Extension for Oklahoma County. A past president of the Oklahoma Dietetic Association, she has been a dietitian for 15 years. 

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