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March 15, 2014

In Our Opinion: Take steps toward healthy life

The Daily Star

---- — The doldrums of winter are weighing on many of us — some of us literally.

Weight gain is common in the cold, dark days of winter. The weather keeps many of us indoors, and we turn to traditional comfort foods, which are often full of sugar and unhealthy fats.

With spring less than a week away, now is the time to start thinking about getting rid of those pounds and bringing back your energy.

As the weather warms and the number of activities starts to grow, it is easier to take that first step on the healthier path.

Improving your health usually involves eating better and moving more. But how you do that is really up to you.

Local fitness instructors recently emphasized to The Daily Star there is no one-size-fits-all approach to getting healthy — each person needs to find what works for him or her.

If you don’t like what you are “supposed” to do, you won’t likely stick with it, they said.

One option is to check with your friends to see what routines they use. If one of them sounds good to you, use the buddy system. By having a fitness “buddy,” each person can support the other, share ideas and serve as motivation.

Another idea is to check out different workouts and nutrition plans online. There are thousands of options.

Also, don’t feel like you need to snap your fingers and be healthy. Small steps add up.

Maybe today you’ll park farther away in the parking lot or choose a healthy alternative to that candy bar. By next week you may be walking around the block and eating a healthy snack, a more-nutritious lunch and fewer sugary drinks.

Hiring a personal trainer or consulting a nutritionist are good options, but they may be out of your budget. Instead look for free or low-cost classes and groups where you can learn about getting on the road to fitness.

For example, a Lifesteps Weight Management class was offered at Delaware Valley Hospital in Walton. Those in attendance shared ideas and experiences to help each other along in their fitness goals.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County also offers classes such as Eat Smart, where people can learn how to eat better on a budget, and Garden to Table, where parents of pre-schoolers and toddlers can find out how to plant, maintain and use a garden for a better diet for the entire family.

Getting healthier can — and should — be a family activity. Getting the kids involved in planning and planting a garden will give them a sense of ownership and could help them want to eat their vegetables. And once the snow melts, go on a nature walk or a bike ride around the neighborhood.

Don’t let winter weigh you down anymore. Take that first step toward fitness.