So, you want to lose weight

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The fading holiday glow ó and associated excuse to overeat ó tempts a New Yearís weight loss resolution. Sadly, the odds are against keeping it. For most of us the determination tapers off well before spring.

So how do you beat the odds? Medical, nutrition, and exercise professionals tend to agree on the basics: Avoid fad diets and focus instead on lifestyle changes. Daily choices. Habits.

With more than 74 percent of men and 64 percent of women classified as overweight or obese according to the National Institutes of Health, America would do well to transform its lifestyle. Obesity is linked to serious health problems, such as diabetes, thyroid and disease, acid reflux, depression, heart disease, and cancer risk, to name a few.

Healthier lifestyles also create more energy and mental stamina, which most people say they could use more of.

If hitting the gym and hiring a personal trainer isnít an option, hereís a list of simple habit changes that sure canít hurt:

Add steps. Park at the back of the lot, not near the door. Take the stairs ó if at home, walk up and down them 10 minutes each day. Skip the car for close errands. Walk around the neighborhood after dinner, or before work; itís a pleasant way to start or end a day.

Limit lattes. Reduce a daily latte habit to two (8 or 12 oz.) per week, and skip the whip and flavored syrups to spare hundreds of empty calories.

Reduce portions. Canít skip your favorite foods? Eat smaller portions. When eating out, take half home for tomorrowís lunch. Substitute veggie sides for fries.

Write it down. Whether itís awareness or added accountability, listing everything you eat (and how much) each day has been linked to more weight loss.

Read labels. Especially with anything boxed or bottled, the ingredients, sugar, fat, and salt content may surprise you.

Choose whole, unprocessed foods. Choose fruit, veggies, quality protein, homemade low-cal dressings (a little olive oil, lemon juice and pureed berries tastes great); bake instead of fry; do-it-yourself rather than buy in a can or kit. The Web has all kinds of time-reducing ideas, or become a crock pot fanatic so itís ready after work.

After morning coffee and juice, stick to water. No calories, and your body gets the hydration it needs.

Only eat when hungry. Tummy not rumbling? Wait until it is.

Watch less TV. Optional sitting time just increases gut size. Stay active. Clean the floor or windows once a week ó itís good exercise and reduces allergens in home and office.

If for no other reason, changing to a healthier lifestyle literally adds years to a life. Thatís motivation enough.

Good luck!

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Sholeh Patrick is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network. Contact her at Sholeh@cdapress.com.

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