Simple ways to slim down in Vail |

Simple ways to slim down in Vail

Sarah Mausolf
Vail CO, Colorado
HL Diet Changes 01 TS 04-06-08

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” After the glorious indulgence that was Taste of Vail, you might be tempted to commit yourself to a lifetime sentence at the gym.

But what if those pesky commercials on TV are right? You know the ads: A couple sits down in a movie theater, where the woman discovers a gelatinous mass.

“What the heck is this thing?” she demands.

“Back fat,” her date replies. “Someone must have lost it ordering a smaller-sized popcorn.”

Simply tweaking your food routines can put a dent in that insulation layer, as Dietitian Diane Henderiks, a guest chef in last week’s food festival, confirms.

“In my practice, I really notice that people don’t realize the little tiny pick things and the tiny little additions they make, whether they’re healthy or unhealthy, can really add up,” she said.

Bottom line: People can lose a pound per week by eating 500 fewer calories per day, Henderiks said.

One angst-free cut you can make is asking for salad dressing on the side, she said. Use a smidgen of dressing, then toss it thoroughly for maximum coverage. After all, those innocent-looking packets of salad dressing can pack 300 calories apiece, Henderiks said.

When ordering at restaurants, adopt the mantra “on the side” to avoid overdosing on sauces and gravies.

“When you go out to the restaurant, you’re usually served a portion that’s way to big, with way too much sauces and butter and stuff,” Henderiks said. “You can still indulge in the flavors, you just have to get it on the side. The bottom line is: You want to control the amount of fat, salt and sugar in your food. Don’t let anybody do it for you.”

That whole sugar thing applies to breakfast, too. “Don’t start the morning off with sugared cereal or scones or muffins,” Henderiks said. “You don’t want to start the day off with the taste of sugar because all day you’ll be wanting more.”

If you prefer to start the day with orange juice, eat an orange instead. Eight ounces of orange juice can pack 130 calories while an orange usually has 80 calories, Henderiks said.

Although the morning has its temptations, no time of day is more dangerous than the lull between dinner and bed. If the munchies strike, Henderiks recommends trading pretzels for popcorn.

“Popcorn’s always a good option,” she said. “It satisfies that hand to mouth feel with lower calories. You can eat four times as much popcorn as one serving of pretzels.”

For Danita Chirichillo, fitness supervisor at the Avon Recreation Center, the key is avoiding white foods before bed. White foods like white rice or potatoes tend to rate high in glycemic levels, she said. And although Chirichillo isn’t a dietitian, she knows high glycemic foods can equal unwanted fat.

“If you go to bed and you have a tummy full of potatoes and white rice, that instantly goes to fat storage,” she said.

Along with avoiding whites before bed, Chirichillo tries to strike a balance between eating and exercise.

Knowing that she planned to indulge at last week’s Mountain Top Picnic atop Vail Mountain, Chirichillo snowshoed to the event instead of riding the gondola.

“It’s all about calories in and calories out, and that can help balance that out a little bit,” she said.

Walking is another low-maintenance way to balance eating and exercise. Deborah Wiancek, owner of Riverwalk Natural Health Clinic in Edwards, recommends strapping on a pedo-meter, a device that counts the steps you take each day. You should take at least 7,000 steps per day, she said.

Parking further from the grocery store and taking a stroll during lunch are easy ways to inject walking into your daily life, she said.

For Jason VanHeulen, head of strength and conditioning at Aria Spa and Club in Vail, it’s all about skimping on carbs, especially before bed. He opts for a lean protein with veggies for dinner.

If this whole concept of small steps toward a healthy lifestyle sounds familiar, that’s because it is. The Ad Council has been running commercials about lost love handles and defeated double chins since 2004.

“We found that adults primarily thought that in order to lead a healthy lifestyle, they would have to make really drastic changes to their lifestyle and spend hours in the gym or only eat certain foods ” really make severe changes” said Ellyn Fisher, director of corporate communications for the Ad Council. Hence the focus on small steps like ordering your latte with lowfat milk or eating off smaller plates.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human services has been sponsoring the commercials as part of its fight against adult obesity.

Jennifer Koentop, a spokeswoman for the Surgeon General’s Office in Washington DC, cites several reasons for rising obesity rates.

“We have a more sedentary lifestyle, our portion sizes are getting bigger,” she said. “We’re taking in more calories and we’re not working it off, so it’s becoming a big issue and I think it’s a culture that we need to change.”

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 748-2938 or

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