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8 Steps to Your Ideal Body Weight

According to the ADA there has been a 39 percent increase in obese teenagers. This is due to many factors, although upbringing is a predominant influence. With two obese parents there is an 80 percent chance that a teen will be obese; with one parent, 40 percent; and with lean parents only a 10 percent chance. Weight management is about long-term work with success that will last a lifetime. People who lose weight quickly by "crash" dieting or other extreme measures usually gain it all back or gain even more of the pounds they lost because they haven't changed their eating habits. The best weight management strategies are those that you can maintain. 

1. Be aware of what you drink: It's amazing how many extra calories are in sodas , juices and other drinks. Cutting out soda completely can save you 360 calories or more each day. Avoid diet soda too, the artificial sweeteners tend to make some people hungry. Drink a lot of water. Switching from whole to nonfat or low-fat milk, soy milk or other sugar-free beverages is also a good idea.

2. Move your body:  You may find that you don't need to give up calories as much as you need to get off your behind. Try a variety of activities, such as hiking , cycling or rowing until you find ones you like. Even the smallest lifestyle changes like walking to school or jogging up and down the stairs a couple of times before your morning shower can really make a difference. Your goal should be to work up to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least 3 to 5 times a week, but it's fine to start out by simply taking a few turns around the block before bed. 

3. Start small:  Drastic changes are much harder to stick with than small changes. Try reducing the size of the portions you eat and giving up regular soda for a week. Once you have that down, start gradually introducing healthier foods and exercise into your life.

4. Stop eating when you're full: Lots of teens eat when they're bored, lonely or stressed, or keep eating long after they're full simply out of habit. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to recognize how much is in your stomach, so if you slow down it will prevent you from eating more than you need. Take a break before refilling your plate for seconds, and avoid eating when you feel upset or bored.
5. Eat less more often: Many people find that eating a couple of small snacks throughout the day helps them to make healthy choices at meals. Stick a couple of healthy snacks (carrot sticks, a low fat granola bar, pretzels or a piece of fruit) in your backpack so that you can have one or two snacks during the day. Adding healthy snacks to your three squares and eating smaller portions when you sit down to dinner can help you cut calories without feeling deprived. Five a day keeps the pounds away, Trash the junk food and buy lots of fruits and vegetables! 

6. Avoid fad or prepackaged diets: If we were meant to eat from cans, they'd grow on trees. It's never a good idea to trade meals for shakes or to give up a food group in the hope that you'll lose weight. We all need a variety of foods to stay healthy. Avoid diet pills (even the over-the-counter or herbal variety) unless your doctor prescribes them.

7. Don't banish certain foods: Don't tell yourself you'll "never" eat your absolute favorite peanut butter chocolate ice cream or a bag of potato chips . Making these foods forbidden is sure to make you want them even more. Besides, you need to have some fat in your diet to stay healthy, so giving up all fatty foods all the time isn't a good idea anyway. The key to long-term success is making healthy choices most of the time. If you want a piece of cake at a party, go for it! But munch on the carrots rather than the chips to balance it out later in the evening. 

8. Forgive yourself: So you were going to have one cracker with cheese on it and the next thing you know, the box is empty? Drink some water, brush your teeth and move on. Everyone who's ever tried to lose weight has found it challenging. When you slip up, the best idea is to get right back on track and don't look back. Avoid telling yourself that you'll get back on track tomorrow or next week or after New Year's. Start now.

Being healthy is really about being at the right weight for you . The best way to find out if you are at a healthy weight or if you need to lose or gain weight is to talk to a health care provider or registered dietitian, an RD. He or she can help you set realistic goals.

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