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March 3, 2000
Introducing Elaine Gavalas

first letter Have you ever looked in the mirror and been dissatisfied? Would you like to change your physique? How about improving your health? Do you want to have your chocolate cake and eat it too? Have you ever wondered about the foods you eat? Are they nutritious? How do they affect your health? How many calories do they contain?

Food & Fitness


By Elaine Gavalas

What if you could enjoy a lifetime of delicious food and look great at the same time?

In my new column, I'll show you how to make your diet and fitness dreams come true. That's my area of expertise. As a nutritionist, exercise physiologist, and weight-management specialist, I assist people of all sizes, shapes, and ages in reaching and maintaining their ideal weight and their fitness goals. Over the years I've helped my clients by explaining their best food choices and creating personalized diet plans. I've also provided them with customized exercise programs and pertinent nutritional information for a healthy lifestyle.

At least 55 percent of Americans are overweight or obese (20-30 percent above the average weight for a person's age, sex, and height). Obesity is more than an aesthetic issue; it is a major risk factor for heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke, some cancers, hormonal imbalances, arthritis, and type II diabetes. Most experts agree that Americans' sedentary lifestyle and propensity to overeat -- and the fact that so many calories are devoid of nutritional value -- are causes of obesity.

To accompany these bad habits, there is a multibillion-dollar diet industry full of conflicting and misleading information, alleged magic pills and potions, diet aids, and seductive eating programs all promising a quick fix: instant, painless weight loss. Hollywood, the fashion industry, and the media are all guilty of conveying images of extreme thinness. This has created a false standard of an ideal physique. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a segment of the population suffers from eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia.


Weight loss gimmicks always seem so much easier and quicker, but they are detrimental in the long run. There are no magical pills or potions for losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight.


The good news is that studies continue to show the conventional prescription for attaining and maintaining your best weight is still the healthiest -- by modifying your lifestyle, eating a balanced diet of carbohydrates, protein, and fat; and cutting calories and exercising more (i.e., expending more calories than you take in). Weight loss gimmicks always seem so much easier and quicker, but they are detrimental in the long run. There are no magical pills or potions for losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight.

It's been said that knowledge is power. I hope that my columns will provide you with the knowledge to sort through the myriad diet and fitness information out there, and the power to embark on a healthier path. In addition, I'll share the latest and most helpful advances and trends in diet, healthful eating, exercise, and weight management.

I've spent years helping my clients and readers achieve their wellness goals through consultations and seminars as well as columns, articles, and books. Lately, I've been able to reach out and help an even larger global audience through the Internet, with monthly interactive weight-management chats, online classes, online articles, and even a weight-loss support group. I look forward to sharing the expertise I've gained in all these arenas with you, and to helping you reach and maintain your diet and fitness goals.

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Elaine Gavalas is an exercise physiologist, nutritionist, and weight management specialist currently earning her Ph.D. from Columbia University, where she also received her master's degree. Elaine is a contributing editor and columnist for a number of online consumer health and beauty sites.