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From Risky Health Status to a Better Life
Date:1/15/2010

dried fruit and sweetened with Splenda and soy milk. Lunch consisted of lean meat and vegetables, followed by a couple of afternoon snacks such as string cheese or apples with a smear of peanut butter. Dinner would be lean meat or fish and veggies, and I'd usually have a bowl of low-sugar cereal, such as shredded wheat or Cheerios, for a snack later on.

Experts recommend that you eat many small meals a day, and that worked for me. It keeps you from becoming hungry and overeating. And because the body burns a certain amount of calories just processing what you eat, keeping yourself fed gives your metabolism a little boost.

My exercise also increased. Courtney Gray, a personal trainer at the Courthouse Athletic Club, helped devise an exercise plan. Her advice was for me to begin working out at least five or six days a week.

"Coming in a couple of days a week is fair enough to keep you steady and keep you regular and keep your heart healthy," Gray said. "But if you want to lose a significant amount of weight, it's just not enough."

She also recommended cross-training. Keep riding the bicycle -- and even ride it more often -- but also start lifting weights every other day, followed by at least a half-hour on the treadmill or elliptical machine.

That would help increase my lean muscle mass, she explained. Muscle at rest burns more calories than fat at rest, which boosts metabolism when you begin a weight-loss effort.

Also, the body tends to adapt if a person does just one type of exercise, creating diminishing results, Gray said. But if you keep switching types of exercise and pushing yourself, you keep the body guessing.

After implementing these changes, I began shedding weight pretty quickly -- and that encouraged me to keep it up. My bicycling began to get stronger as I lost weight and gained muscle, and before long I was keeping up with the fast groups riding 24 to 26 miles per hour.

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