Obesity: The EpidemicArlene Normand, a dietitian, has built a strong business over ten years dealing with thousands of clients from all walks of life with a common goal – to lose and maintain weight loss.

I really hate exercise, is it necessary for me to do it to lose weight?

Food and fitness go hand in hand to lose weight.  You cannot focus only on the food alone, physical activity has extra benefits.  Exercise helps burn calories not only when you are exercising, but also increases your metabolic rate after the exercise session.  Exercise increases your muscle mass, which is more metabolically active than fat – so it helps keep the weight off.  Exercise tones and shapes your body so you lose inches, which you will feel in your clothes.  Physical activity is extremely important for your health – you should be doing at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day to improve your cardiac fitness.  Exercise is great for your mood and helps boost confidence!

Lately I’ve been buying almond milk, and my husband and I love it. We have actually decided that we like it just as well as milk for cereal. It has a very pleasant taste. Is there anything bad that I need to know about this product?

Almond milk is a great alternative to dairy milk for people with lactose intolerance and those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet — and for others who simply like the way it tastes. Though some people have raised concerns about the ingredient carrageenan, a seaweed-based thickening agent, that additive is deemed safe to eat in the quantities in which it appears in foods.

After a flight to Europe I suffered Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) so my doctor put me onto Warfarin.  All by blood tests have come back normal, but he does not want to take me off it yet.  I am fit and healthy, do regular exercise and watch what I eat.  Recently I have been getting the flu quite often, so started taking a multivitamin.  A friend mentioned that I must be careful what I take because of the Warfarin.  Do you have any advice?

Vitamin K acts primarily in the blood clotting system, which is the base of how Warfarin works.  When you have DVT you have to take a drug (Warfarin) that opposes blood clotting as when the clotting mechanism is overly active it threatens to block the arteries.  Warfarin, an anticoagulant medication, prevents vitamin K being used to produce blood-clotting proteins.

Taking extra vitamin K either as a supplement or by consuming large amounts of green leafy vegetables will oppose the action of the prescribed anticoagulant, making the treatment of your DVT ineffective.  I would recommend you avoid any supplement containing Vitamin K.  Other multivitamins are OK but you should check with your doctor in case there are possible interactions.

I have an obese daughter, she is 12 years old and 155 cm.  She weighs 60 kg.  She has a really low self esteem and has the nickname “tubby” at school.  We are now all on a low fat eating regime in the family.  We have three meals and two small snacks between.  I even pack her school lunch.  Can you help me with suggestions?

Your daughter is fortunate to have such a motivated and caring mother!  Your daughter is not obese, she is overweight – but nothing that a change of lifestyle can’t resolve.  Exercise is an essential element in your daughter’s daily activities.  Initially she may not want to participate in group sports or swim due to her weight, but walking or going to the gym are excellent alternatives.  Aim on her doing an hour exercise each day – gradually build up the length and intensity of these sessions.

Try and make them fun and include variety – playing in the park or on the beach, doing an exercise DVD (www.arlenesway.com.au), gardening, bushwalking.  Include the whole family in as many of these exercise sessions as possible, particularly on the weekend.  Three meals and two small low fat snacks is the way to go!  Encourage salads, vegetables and two fruit a day.  Forget the word “diet” in preference for “healthy, normal” eating.

Explain that an energy imbalance has resulted in excess weight, and simply reducing the quantity she is eating and increasing her activity level is a simple solution.  Introducing the entire family to smaller portions will prevent her feeling isolated.  In no time you will have a happier, slimmer and more confident young lady!

Osteoporosis is prevalent in our family.  I am trying to lose weight, but am worried that I am not eating enough of the foods that have calcium  I do not like milk, but like yoghurt and cheese.  What do you suggest?

The recommended daily intake of calcium for women from 18-50 is 1000mg per day, which equates to 2-3 serves of calcium rich foods each day.  Tinned fish where the bones are consumed are also good sources of calcium.

Yoghurt has been shown in recent studies to help weight loss.  Two tubs of low fat yoghurt each day together with a slice of reduced  fat cheddar cheese/sardines/tinned salmon on your sandwich will satisfy your calcium requirement for the day.  Make yourself a smoothie with berries or banana and a glass of low fat milk is a great alternative for breakfast!

Walking is the only exercise I enjoy – is it enough?

Walking is an ideal form of exercise, it requires no equipment apart from a good pair of walking shoes, and it is also time efficient.  Purchase a pedometer. Wear your pedometer every day, check your pedometer every night and keep a score – 10000 is the magic number.

When you have achieved this number then increase the intensity of your walks so that your goal moves to 15000 steps each day.  You can give all your leg muscles a good workout if you walk with a purpose – the brisker the walk the harder your thighs and calves have to work – shaping and toning them.  If you walk with your stomach muscles taught – you will be working these simultaneously.

Carrying hand weights will give your arms and upper body an improved workout.  Try and include one good hill so that the thighs really feel the pressure and your heart is beating strong and fast.