Take the 100-calorie challenge to avoid 'weight creep'

Watching intake and burning calories can carry a lot of weight

Health & Fitness

February 23, 2003|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Sun Staff

You may not be overweight now, but if you're like most Americans, you have a good chance of gaining about two pounds a year -- what's often called "weight creep." Anxious to avoid it? Obesity researchers in the current issue of Science have a suggestion: Don't make any major lifestyle changes.

Instead, eat 100 fewer calories or burn 100 more a day. That could very well be enough to help you maintain your current weight, keeping off those unwanted pounds. You can spend five minutes four times a day walking up and down the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Or you can leave half the french fries on your plate. Nothing major. Just do a little more or eat a little less -- or a combination of both.

"It makes sense," says Lori Wiersema, a nutritionist at St. Joseph Medical Center. "Our metabolism slows down as we get older, and we tend to get more sedentary. Tightening things up a bit could help prevent weight gain."

There are a lot of variables when you talk about burning calories. A 125-pound woman taking a stroll will burn 100 calories in about 30 minutes, while a 200-pound man needs only 20 minutes to get the same result.

Still, the following will give you a rough idea of what you have to do to avoid weight creep:

To consume around 100 fewer calories, give up:

* 1 tablespoon of butter

* 2 chocolate chip cookies

* 8 ounces of cola

* 1/3 cup vanilla ice cream

* 10 potato chips

* 1 tablespoon mayonnaise

* 2 cups popcorn

* 4 Hershey's Kisses

* 6 teaspoons sugar

* 25 peanuts

* 1 1/2 tablespoons blue cheese dressing

* 4 ounces of wine

To burn around 100 calories:

* Swim for 10 minutes

* Shovel snow for 20 minutes

* Dance at a club for 30 minutes

* Ride your bike for 20 minutes

* Wash windows for 30 minutes

* Bowl for 30 minutes

* Climb stairs for 20 minutes

* Make love for an hour

* Rake leaves for 20 minutes

* Garden for 20 minutes

* Walk briskly for 20 minutes

* Jog for 10 minutes

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