Food, Nutrition and Exercise
More Than a Path to Weight Loss

Leading a healthy, long life, feeling good and being physically fit are things we all strive for in our lives. Science has proven, time and time again, that these are attainable through proper diet and exercise.

But healthy eating habits and regular exercise are harder and harder to maintain with today's environment. Many of us have desk jobs and long commutes by car or public transportation. We can hardly find the time for exercise. With our busy lives, we often succumb to "fast food" full of empty calories that fill our stomachs but provide us with little nutrition.

Health problems associated with obesity are on the rise, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and a host of others. As a nation, Americans are more overweight than ever before. But there are things you can do to return to good health, slim down, and become physically fit.

* Try to stay active for 30 minutes a day. This can include brisk walking, swimming, bicycling, stair climbing, or strenuous work around the house. If 30 minutes at once is difficult, break it up into smaller increments of 10 or 15 minutes each. Be creative about finding the time for exercise. You can always walk in place while you watch television, for example.

* Plan your meals and snacks in advance as much as possible. Make a list of foods you enjoy that are healthy and low in fat. These include recipes you can make at home as well as items at local restaurants that offer good nutrition. Avoid fried foods. Carry healthy, low fat snacks with you, and snack between meals. That way you will have an easier time avoiding unhealthy diet choices when you are away from the house or in a hurry.

* Identify active hobbies or sports you enjoy, and begin to make them part of your life. Try to remember what you enjoyed most when you were younger and more active. Dancing, bicycling, swimming, jogging, walking, and skating are all great exercise, and can be incredibly fun. Choose whatever works best for you. Start slow so you don't get discouraged.

* Watch your portion size. If you have an eating problem, you should probably avoid all-you-can-eat buffets. Be careful when restaurants serve huge portions. Try to order the lunch portion, or request a "to go" container right away, and place half of it in it if the portion is huge.

In addition to diet, nutrition and exercise, it's important you keep up with regular doctor and dental visits. Find doctors you trust and feel comfortable with, even if you have to shop around a bit. That way you are more likely to open up about your symptoms and your doctor is more likely to take you seriously.

A little self-care can go a long way toward improving and prolonging your life. Think of it as a good investment, which will pay off great dividends, not just for your physical health, but your self-esteem and mood will be greatly improved as well.

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