Diets don't have to go to extremes

You've heard it all before - but has the message gotten through?

Achieving a healthy weight reduces health risks, increases energy levels and improves how we feel about ourselves. Most people are aware of the benefits of weight loss, and yet 69 percent of adult Americans are considered overweight or obese. Most people do not watch their portion sizes, read nutritional labels or exercise enough. These habits need to be incorporated into daily life to promote weight loss.

As an all-or-nothing society, people look for magic pills or starve themselves to compensate for overindulging. Many people also believe that if they can't exercise routinely, then why bother exercising at all?

Obesity has a negative impact on our physical and mental health. Participating in healthy behaviors encouraged by a weight loss or weight management program will help you reach and maintain your goal weight, resulting in a healthier, happier you!

The National Weight Control Registry contains information on more than 5,000 people who have lost at least 30 pounds and have kept off the weight for a year or longer. Here are habits many of them share:

• Most participants monitor themselves regularly. They weigh themselves and keep a food diary. This has been found to help them catch slips early to take action and correct them.

• Most participants consume breakfast daily. This helps spread out calories and provide energy throughout the entire day. It jumpstarts the metabolism and helps control hunger.

• Most participants exercise about one hour per day. Most of the participants walk, but many also do weight training and other activities.

• Many of the participants watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.

Aerobic exercise can burn fat for fuel (unlike anaerobic exercise, which only uses carbohydrates). Incorporating some form of aerobic exercise in your daily routine can help improve weight loss.

What could be more fun than dancing to burn fat? You would need to dance for about 20 to 60 minutes with your heart rate at 50 to 80 percent of the target heart rate. There's a lot of variety: Polka, swing, Latin and line dancing all fit the bill. Check out local dance classes, and dance the pounds away!