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This column originally appeared in The Robesonian on July 29, 2012 — editor.

As I have said for years, there is no secret or magic pill to help you get in shape, lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle. And no matter how many infomercials you are bombarded with, no matter how many “new” products people try to sell you, the only true way to do these things and do them the right way is to make the decision that you want to do something about it and commit to it.

I know, it’s easier said then done, but it can be done and has been for years. I work with clients every day who are proof it works. No matter what their current fitness level may have been, as long as they make the commitment to show up and do the work, they succeed. Did you hear that last part? You have to do the work.

Here are seven things you can do now to help in starting this difficult, but rewarding process.

— Get moving: Part of any effective weight-loss routine is exercise. Select a workout routine that best fits your fitness and lifestyle needs. Whether it’s working with a trainer, or a friend, or a DVD, just pick something, show up and do it.

— Practice portion control: Over the years, portions have become supersized. Larger serving sizes make it easy to consume excess calories, even when it comes to healthy foods. Curb your consumption by being mindful of proper serving sizes and make sure half of your plate is filled with fruits and colorful veggies at every meal.

— Lose low-fat labels: Many dieters fill their kitchens with foods branded as “low fat,” but all too often that label is a diet trap. To improve their flavor, manufacturers tend to add more sugar, flour and thickeners to fat-free products, which boost calorie content. Studies show that people often view a low-fat label as a green light to eat much more than they normally would.

— Rev your metabolism: Digesting high-fiber green vegetables is an easy way to make your metabolism work harder, and it can kill cravings for unhealthy foods. Likewise, your body burns twice as many calories by digesting proteins than it does when digesting carbs. However, don’t cut out carbs completely, we need those to give us energy for the day and to power us through our workouts

— Cut out soda: The average American drinks 53 gallons of soda a year; if it’s regular soda, that comes to about 49 pounds of sugar. In addition to contributing to weight gain, soda increases your risk of diabetes, bone weakening and tooth decay. Even diet soda is packed with artificial sweeteners. Additionally, the carbonation in soda cause air bubbles to form and expand in your abdomen, which can cause excess bloating.

— Drink more water: We all know that water is healthy, but what you may not know is that it could help you shed excess pounds. Each day, drink enough water so that your urine is clear. A recent study showed that your metabolic rate jumps within 10 minutes of drinking ice-cold water, and it stays up for an additional half-hour after you drink it. Research has also found that drinking an average of 6.5 cups of water per day helped people consume 200 fewer calories a day.

— Switch to whole grains: Instead of white pastas, breads and flour, switch to whole grains. Packed with fiber, whole grains keep you full longer, stabilize blood sugar, and are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Plus, a diet rich in whole grains has been tied to lower rates of chronic disease such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity.

So put down the remote, the pill bottle with Kim Kardashian on the label and the jelly doughnut and make the decision to commit to follow these seven simple steps, be patient, and enjoy the journey to living a healthier lifestyle.

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