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Little changes make a big difference

July 25, 2012
By Cheryl Rude , Marshall Independent

If someone told you that you could lose five pounds per year by investing in an activity for six minutes every day, would you be willing to do it? Would you believe it? I found an interesting tidbit in one of my recent trade publications that really emphasizes the role of how even very small changes can compound into significant changes over time.

How many times have you heard to take the stairs instead of the elevator or to park in the farthest parking spot in the parking lot? Do you make a practice of doing that? According to the article I read, a 150-pound person would burn about eight calories in one minute if he or she took the stairs. So now, if you do the math, if you took the steps three times per day and did that for just two minutes each time (for a total of six minutes) in one day you would burn 48 extra calories. In one week, you would burn 336 calories, in one month you would burn about 1,440 calories and in one year you would burn about 17,520 calories. This number would equal approximately a five-pound loss in one year!

These same types of calculations can be done by figuring out how many calories you would save by eliminating or changing one or two food choices too. For example, by changing from drinking two cups of 2 percent milk to two cups of skim milk per day, you would save 21,900 calories per year, or the equivalent of about six pounds. How about changing from drinking one regular 20 ounce soda per day to one diet 20 soda per day? That would save about 91,250 calories per year or the equivalent of approximately 26 pounds!

Then you could take it one step further and decide to do the steps three times a day AND change the 20-ounce soda for a total of 31 pounds per year. Habits are not easy to break, but it does help to take it in small steps and make it be changes that you can live with and stick with. Lifestyle changes that you can incorporate into your daily routine are likely to have the biggest impact on your success in managing your weight. I'll meet you in the stairwell!

Cheryl Rude is a registered dietitian at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center. In addition to her column, you can also find nutrition tips and ideas on the blog she writes at



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