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Are you confused by the term calorie? When it comes to food, a calorie is a unit of energy that a food supplies to your body from the carbohydrate, protein, and fat it contains. Calories are the fuel you need to work, play, rest and even sleep. When choosing what to eat and drink, it's essential to get the right mix of enough nutrients, but not too many calories.

When talking about physical activity, a calorie is a measure of the energy your body uses in performing the activity. We know that physical activity is good for you. Regular activity can help prevent unhealthy weight gain and also helps with weight loss when combined with a lower calorie intake.

Calorie balance is like a scale. To remain in balance and maintain your body weight, the calories you get from foods must be balanced by the calories you use in normal body functions and physical activities. Simply put, if you eat more calories that you use, you gain weight. If you "burn up" more calories than you eat, you lose weight.

Don't be lured by the newest fad diets that make you eat a large amount of a certain nutrient, such as high-protein or no-carb diets. You may not be getting all the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients your body needs.  You may lose weight, but you'll probably gain it back as soon as you start eating normally again.

Here are some strategies to help you establish healthy eating habits:

Keep a food diary.
Writing down what you eat gets you started on exactly how much you are eating every day. It is a great tool to help you practice mindful eating. Make sure you include portion size and time of day. Never skip breakfast! You need the fuel for your metabolism to get going all day long.

Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
You can eat more of certain types of food to help you lose weight. Fruits and vegetables are relatively low in calories and rich in nutrients. They are high in fiber and will make you feel fuller longer. Strive to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables. Choose your whole grains wisely.

Cut back on meats high in fats (like burgers and hot dogs), greasy fried foods, and sweets.

Drink more water instead of surgery drinks like sodas.

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans state that an active lifestyle can lower your risk of early death from a variety of causes. There is also strong evidence that regular physical activity can also lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, depression, and type 2 diabetes just to name a few. With all of the things you have to do each day, finding time and motivation to get you moving can be challenging. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Choose activities that are fun.
Vary your activities so you don't get bored.
Wear a pedometer and try to walk a little more each day or week. Aim for 10,000 steps a day.
Walk or bike to work or to the store.

Be physically active at lunch with coworkers, family or friends.

Set specific, short-term goals, and reward yourself when you achieve them. (Just don't use food!)

For more information on any of the above topics, please visit www.womenshealth.gov. This is a trusted website from the Office on Women's Health with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

As the owner of Waynedale Curves, I have witnessed the power of women who have taken charge of their health and have made life-changing choices in their lifestyles. At Curves we offer coaching for everyone at every workout, results at any fitness level, a method to burn fat, lose weight and increase strength. Our Curves Complete Program is an integrated 1-2-3 solution of fitness, meal plans and a weekly meeting with a certified Cleveland Clinic Curves Complete coach. Call us at 260-478-3500 for more information on all of the programs we have to offer. Bring this article to Waynedale Curves, 5909 Bluffton Road, and receive one month free on a 12-month fitness membership. Be Well!

The Waynedale News Staff
Author: The Waynedale News Staff
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