Big Loser 
...but I know that I am not the biggest loser. Even though I proudly watch no prime-time TV, I must admit am familiar with that television show and I must admit of all the reality TV out there, that show is probably the only one that encourages people to better themselves.

As I wrap up one year of a dedicated diet and exercise routine, one that has shed me 30 pounds, I will make a few observations.

1. Don't wait until you have a problem. Start a diet and exercise regimen today. Walking and cutting the salt and sugar are good ways to start.

2. Salt - cut salt from your diet. Whenever I tell people that I cut salt they usually reply "I never salt my food." Ha. Neither have I but I was taking in waaaay too much. If you do salt your food, that's nothing compared to the salt that's in processed, and all the frozen, foods out there. Let's not forget soup. A can of chicken noodle soup itself accounts for 80% of the recommended daily allowance. If you eat at restaurants more than once a week and never order off their 'healthy' (snicker) menu, fast food vs. sit-down makes little difference, you might as well as inject yourself with a salt IV. Salt is in everything that pre-packaged. Everything. Read the labels and cut the intake, now.

3. Sugar - cut that, too. Switch to wheat and whole grain bread. Start eating wheat pasta, too. Soda? Soda is instant weight-gain in a can. Diet? hahahaha yeah right; no sugar, maybe, but no sugar != instant weight gain. Trust me. I don't think I've had a glass or can of soda since August.

4. Stairs - if you have to go to the fourth floor lower, take the stairs. I have always adhered to this. It my not be much, but it does add up. I work in building that has four floors and I refuse to use the elevator and over four years, I'll admit that have used it a few times, but only if there is a reason, like a mild sprain or pain. The library is on the fourth floor and always hike it (and I always beat those to the top to who I see getting on when I enter the stairwell too).

5. Drink water. Drink a lot. Drink it with every meal. I do.

6. Beer/alcohol: my biggest weakness. Some people like candy, some like potato chips, I like my beer. I have noticed that light beer does make a difference but being kind of a beer snob I don't like light beer very much so I alternate - one case normal beer and then the next light beer.

7. Strive for the "five a day." Fruits and vegetables are good for you, to say the least. Potatoes and derived products don't count. Neither does ketchup.

8. Stay away from fast food. Not only is it a salt overdose risk, it's expensive. Regular restaurants, while usually better in taste and quality, aren't much better when it comes to salt and glop either.

9. Beef - I have significantly cut back the amount of beef I eat. While I love a good hamburger (we only buy 90/10), more often than not, hamburger night has turned into turkeyburger night. We use ground turkey or ground chicken for lasagne, sloppy joes, tacos, and so on. Ground turkey and ground chicken are more expensive than ground beef but it's worth the extra cost. Going vegan is an option, too, just not for me.

10. It's OK to treat yourself. Moderation is key.

11. I never thought that by the end of the year, I'd be running regularly and realistically looking and being able to run a 5K within six months. Your goals may be different but even if you start small, like I did, try it and build yourself up and see what difference a year can make.

Have a happy and HEALTHY new year.

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