Healthy habits melt away pounds |

Healthy habits melt away pounds

Those who make flippant new year’s resolutions take note — there are no shortcuts to weight loss and maintenance.

Fitness buffs, personal trainers and nutritionists all agree it takes time and sticking to a plan so the pounds don’t stick to you.

Toni Azevedo should know.

The South Shore woman lost 100 pounds in the past year by following a healthy mix of exercise and monitoring her food intake. And at 200 pounds, she wants to lose another 50.

“I’ll be able to keep up with those kids now,” the future grandma said as she offered advice to a group gathered at the Body Sculpt Fitness Center in South Lake Tahoe. “Everybody loses weight. It’s keeping it off that’s the hardest.”

Azevedo need only look to her family to give her reason for the lifestyle change. One uncle died from colon cancer, her father died of a hardening of the arteries and another uncle has colon cancer.

Last January, she replaced her 3,000-calorie-a-day consumption with healthy eating habits. She also started to take regular walks.

She later entered a diet program at Body Sculpt. This eventually led to using a stair-stepper machine for 30 minutes, five days a week. She fills out her exercise regimen every day of the week with Richard Simmons videos “for the music.”

“I feel great and have more energy,” she said.

The life the once sedentary manicurist knew is in the past.

“I cleaned out my whole house,” she said of the food in her cupboards.

As recommended in the Body Sculpt weight loss program, she stacked her refrigerator with fruits and vegetables. Besides mastering recipes like yam pie, she made healthy finger foods and meal replacements like Slim Fast shakes available for her days on the run.

Azevedo also learned she was more motivated to eat apples when they were cut in slices, an idea that was met with nods from the 12 other women and one man at the weight-loss orientation.

Eating more fruits and vegetables — a suggested five a day — and changing one’s environment are two of three primary ways to lose and maintain weight, registered dietitian June Denney told the group.

She advised the audience to refrain from staring down the food to overcome it.

“Don’t say, ‘I’m bigger than those cookies.’ I guarantee you will be bigger than those cookies,” Denney said, as some shared their weaknesses.

Rocky Road ice cream and frosting, not the cake, top the list of trigger foods for Diane Rosner. Before changing her eating and exercise habits through Body Sculpt, Rosner described herself as “the remote queen.”

Through the center’s 13-week weight-loss program, Rosner has now joined the ranks of those trying to keep the pounds off by munching on fruits and vegetables.

“Why don’t they ever supersize broccoli? We never read about that,” Denney sympathized.

Fresh is the preferred, with frozen and canned a close second and third. Forget fried.

“No, tempura doesn’t count,” she said.

And to make them more appetizing to children, Denney recommends accents and seasonings.

“A little ranch dressing works wonders,” she said.

Denney stressed the importance of healthy eating for children, especially with the surging rate of obesity in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found obesity has climbed significantly each year, bringing on a larger number of cases of diabetes and other health conditions.

While determining that Americans are consuming 500 calories more a day in the last 20 years, obesity has risen to 20.9 percent for all age groups.

Denney attributes the main reason more children have become obese is lack of physical activity.

“Children now watch more TV, more than they spend time at school,” she said. “If now we watch our children die ahead of us, then it’s a wake-up call.”

Denney quantified the benefits of exercise for the group.

“Each minute of walking adds two minutes to your life. If you choose to not do physical activity, you won’t lose weight. It’s that clear,” the nutritionist said, sounding like a personal trainer or gym operator.

“The two really do go together. If they can do something every day, they can reach that goal with the right guidance,” Time Out owner-operator Jim Wire said.

Like Sierra Athletic Club, Wire said his gym traditionally experiences a spike in memberships in the first two weeks of January, but by April the crowd diminishes.

“What people forget is that fitness is every day,” he said.

Every year, 100 million Americans resolve to get fit, but 40 percent break their resolutions by February, according to the Bally Total Fitness health club chain.

A study at the Cooper Institute has found that the highest risk of early death is among the 20 percent of people who get the least physical activity.

— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at

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