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Lose Weight the Right Way
01/11/2010

As seen in the New Lenox Patriot on Jan, 6, 2010 by Laura Michaels

Lose Weight the Right Way - Local Physician Shares Tips to Shed Pounds Without Harming your Health

The excitement of New Year's Eve has come and gone. And in addition to the leftover champagne bottles, many people are left with the feeling that maybe they ate just a bit too much during the past month. Then comes the barrage of fad diets and promises of fast, easy weight loss.

But as you prepare to tackle your resolution to shed a few pounds, Dr. Joan Covault would like people to keep one thing in mind: It's still simple math. "Calories in equal calories out," said Covault, a physician with Provena Medical Group in New Lenox. "No matter how you look at it, the bottom line is still simple math." One pound of body fat equals about 3,500 calories, so to take off one pound per week a person would need to eliminate 500 calories per day. But rather than attempting to do so just through exercise or solely by skipping meals, Covault said the key is balance. "It's a lifestyle change, this is not a diet," Covault said.

"People need to get past that idea of a diet if they want to maintain the weight loss. Fad diets don't work." Diets that severely cut calories or restrict certain foods make people feel deprived, Covault said, and they don't succeed in the long-run because they're not sustainable. "An important thing to remember is not to skip your meals," she said. "You wind up paying for it later because you're hungrier and you eat more than you normally would."

Combining exercise with a lower caloric intake is a better approach, Covault said. And when it comes to exercise, finding something you enjoy doing is of utmost importance. "It has to be something you enjoy doing or you won't do it," she said. For those who don't like running, Covault suggested swimming or getting involved in a park district activity like volleyball. The aquatic centers at Lincoln-Way Central and Lincoln-Way West high schools in New Lenox are open to the public, as are their indoor tracks, for example. When it comes to meal preparation, Covault said portion control is a proven method for cutting back how much you eat. "People don't have a good perception of serving sizes," she said. "Try using smaller plates, smaller bowls. It's a perception thing." Planning meals ahead of time and sticking to your list when grocery shopping are also key components to successful weight loss. She also suggested keeping a journal of what you eat. "It's a real eye-opener," Covault said. "If you actually take the time to journal what you eat you'll think twice about the extra creamer in your coffee or the cookie you have from the break room."

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is also a great way to curb hunger. "A lot of the time people confuse hunger with thirst," the doctor said. "Try drinking a tall glass of water before you eat and you'll feel a lot less hungry."

Provena is partnering with the New Lenox Park District for a "Losing Weight and Keeping It Off" program on Monday, Jan. 25, from 1-2 p.m. at the Senior Housing Complex, 1090 S. Cedar Road, New Lenox. Dr. John Pollastrini will present a program about healthy eating lifestyle changes, exercise, fad diets, yo-yo dieting, the immune system and more. This program is free and the registration deadline is Monday, Jan. 18. Call (815) 485-1737 for more information.

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