Living Lean: Weight loss

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Did you know as many as two-thirds of Americans are overweight? It’s a problem that is the driving force behind our nation’s high rates of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Health experts warn that to battle those issues it must start with each of us. Before you start groaning, it may be easier than you think.

The old saying, “no pain, no gain” isn't necessarily true when it comes to health. In fact, research shows that small and not so painful steps can actually lead to big gains in health status.

"The goal of weight loss should be to transform your weight to a more healthy weight in terms of health risks. You may not get back into your prom dress or prom suit, but you will change your health risks," Gary Raskob, PhD, Oklahoma University, says.

According to Dr. Raskob, losing 7 to 10 percent of your body weight can really reduce your risk of developing diabetes. So what does that mean?

For someone weighing 200 to 250 pounds, a weight loss of seven to ten percent is just 10 to 15 pounds.

"When you put in that perspective, it helps people have a realistic goal because if you start out with an unrealistic goal and then you fail, you are going to be discouraged and not continue," Dr. Raskob says.

Losing those first 10 to 15 pounds can be painless too. Start by adding a few steps to your day:

-park further out in every parking lot
-take the stairs instead of the elevator
-deliver a message to a colleague at work in person instead of using email
-and finally take a quick walk on your lunch break

A pedometer can help track those added steps, but your diet must change as well. It can be as easy as adding one serving of vegetables or fruit a day.

"Our message isn't it is unhealthy to ever have a hamburger, or you can't ever have an ice cream cone. That’s not what we're saying. We’re saying moderation, control, portion control, and cutting out fat and trans-fat and other unhealthy things in your diet where you can."

Experts warn to start with small changes each day. Before you know it, you will have made big strides for your overall health.

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