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Don’t watch your weight:

Three steps to get it under control

Thinking about going on a quick diet to take off those extra pounds? Odds are it won't work. With seven out of 10 Americans clinically overweight, dieting has become as much a national pastime as baseball. Yet obesity has recently been declared epidemic.

Trying to solve weight issues with short-term solutions such as fad diets is like expecting to enjoy a leisurely boat ride in a leaking boat. No matter how much you bail, the boat keeps sinking. Until you fix the core problem — a hole that needs patching — you’ll never be able to stop bailing.

As a nation, we’re watching our weight, but it isn't going anywhere. That's because we're treating a symptom rather than the core problem. When it comes to your body, there are only two choices: health or chronic disease. If you aren't actively pursuing wellness, you are choosing chronic illness. Decide to improve your overall health, and your weight will take care of itself.

Fortunately, changing your focus doesn't have to be hard. When making a move toward better health, there are only three things you need to remember: work towards and maintain a healthy weight, get regular physical activity and build muscle tone.

Get lost

Overweight is associated with a significantly higher risk of premature death and disease. Most of us know that. It’s doing something about it that we have trouble with.

The thing we fail to remember is that overweight is largely a result of lifestyle choices. If we continue to eat more calories than we use, we will never win the battle of the bulge. And if we try to tackle weight issues with short-term solutions like fad dieting, we will be doomed to failure.

But changing lifelong habits overnight is difficult. So start small by taking incremental steps toward change. Lower your intake of fats and sugar, while increasing your intake of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Set a goal of losing just 5% of your body weight.

Be patient... and over time, you'll see the benefits in a new you. The solution to weight loss is not in dieting, but in changing your eating habits and adding the missing link of regular physical activity.

Move along now

Inactivity is responsible for many of the chronic diseases we Americans suffer, including obesity, coronary disease, cancer, depression, anxiety, arthritis, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, diabetes and joint pain, to name only a few. Leisure has become an art form that is doing us far more harm than good.

Research has shown that 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise daily can increase the blood flow to your brain, reducing the risk of Alzheimer's disease. It can reduce your tendency toward chronic disease and increase your life expectancy by 35% or more. It can also significantly impact your weight-loss efforts.

So start taking steps today. The simplest exercise is walking, and it's easy to work it into your schedule. Park in the farthest parking spot you can find rather than the closest. Take the stairs rather than the elevator. When it comes to your health, every step counts.

Use it or lose it

The bad news is most adults over age 20 lose a half pound of muscle every year. The good news is you can regain and keep muscle by setting aside some time only two or more days a week.

Our muscles are energy hogs. Every pound of muscle eats up about 25 calories a day just to exist. Building muscle, therefore, helps burn calories, which helps you lose weight. It also builds stamina and strength, ensuring that you will be able to perform basic physical tasks as you age.

Fitness experts recommend strength training twice a week. Work all major muscle groups: arms, chest, shoulders, abdomen, back and legs. And be patient. It could take six weeks before you’ll see improvements in strength.

Take the plunge

Better health, which may lead to the weight loss you're looking for, is as simple as one, two, three. Feed a slimmer you, exercise for life and give your muscles a workout twice a week.

But remember: Change isn't made in a day. It's made every minute in the choices you make along the way. So take your time, but take the plunge. Choose health — not chronic disease — by taking strides toward a healthier you.