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Getting fit is not always easy but worth it in the long-run

People are always talking about how to lose weight and become fit. Many believe the right way to go about it is to simply lose those extra pounds around your waist or hips – but it is not that simple.
 
 Dr. Bettye J. Alston
By Dr. Bettye J. Alston
Special to the Tri-State Defender

People are always talking about how to lose weight and become fit. Many believe the right way to go about it is to simply lose those extra pounds around your waist or hips – but it is not that simple. Becoming fit is much more complex and requires more than pills or surgery.

A recent obesity study showed that more than two out of three states have obesity rates over 25 percent. The obesity epidemic continues to be most dramatic in the South, which includes nine of the 10 states with the highest adult obesity rates.

Even more disturbing are the figures for African-Americans. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, approximately four out of five African-American women are overweight or obese. Obesity is a major contributor to the nation’s ever increasing healthcare costs.

The first step to becoming healthier is looking at the lifestyle choices you make every day.  If you don’t take care of yourself, it is one of the worst things you can do to yourself and your family. It may seem difficult to change your habits right now but major health issues such as heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes can be prevented through a healthy diet, ample nutrition and a steady fitness regimen.

In our fast-paced world, we need to make time to eat foods that offer us nutrients and protein, such as fresh fruit, nuts and vegetables. Nuts, fruits and vegetables should be eaten as frequently as possible throughout the day. Eating nutritious items frequently will help speed up your metabolism, which means that you are burning calories efficiently all day long.

Fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that may help protect from chronic diseases, including stroke, other cardiovascular diseases and certain types of cancers. Nuts often have monounsaturated fatty acids that help to lower LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increase HDL or “good cholesterol.” They have also been found to have compounds that protect against cancers, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and viral and fungal infections.

To help supplement your daily nutrition intake, I strongly advocate the use of vitamins and nutritional supplements. In conjunction with a healthy diet, these supplements can be used to help our bodies become healthier.

Nutritional supplements are an alternative way of treating your body and helping it become healthy. Daily use of vitamin and nutrition supplements can improve your body’s overall wellness and performance. A vitamin that I personally take is 8Rx. The vitamin works for everyone and contains a number of ingredients including vitamins D3 and K, omega-3 fish oil, turmeric and green tea. This product helps support heart health and works as an anti-inflammatory.

The second thing I encourage my clients to do is to create a fitness schedule. This does not mean going to the gym and running 10 miles in the treadmill (although you can if you would like!). When you are first starting, your fitness schedule can be as simple as walking 30 minutes a day, going for a light jog after work or starting your day with some jumping jacks. Do what makes you feel good and don’t be lazy. As you slowly incorporate these routines into your everyday life, you will begin to notice how your body is feeling and looking healthier.

Lastly, it is very important to keep hydrated, so drink as much water as you can. Your body is approximately 70 percent water and to keep it running efficiently, you need to make sure you are sufficiently hydrated. Water will also help clean the toxins out of your system and help curb your appetite.

At the end of the day, it is your decision whether or not you want to lead a healthier lifestyle. The journey to a healthier lifestyle may appear to be difficult and there may be obstacles, but your reward at the end is worth it.

(Dr. Bettye Alston is a local health and wellness expert and CEO of Inside & Out Wellness Center in Memphis, TN. She is also a member of the medical advisory board for FirstFitness Nutrition, a weight loss and wellness company. For more information, visit www.insideandoutwellnesscenter.com)  

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