Many people head into the New Year wanting to achieve their ideal body weight. The healthy and lasting way to lose weight is through lifestyle changes.

The only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you take in. There are three ways to do this: take in fewer calories, expend more calories through movement, or a combination of the two.

Most people prefer a combination of the two by decreasing their caloric intake and increasing their workout regimen by time or intensity.

Overall calories can be reduced by decreasing portion size or total caloric intake. Try to prepare your own food as much as possible so you know the ingredients. Shop the perimeter of the supermarket to get the enzymatically alive foods — those that are not in boxes preserved with a multitude of chemicals that can disrupt metabolism. Cut out all sugar drinks and snacks. Replace sodas with water and herbal teas that you prepare yourself.

Try to identify any food incompatibilities you may have. This includes food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances. A good health practitioner should be able to help you identify any of these. By removing food incompatibilities, we can decrease a toxic burden on our digestive system and improve our metabolism. Acupuncture has been shown to reduce cravings of certain foods, including sugar.

Take a good probiotic supplement that can help inoculate your upper and lower digestive systems with good microorganisms to improve gut function. Several studies suggest that certain probiotic strains can help you lose body weight and belly fat, such as the British Journal of Nutrition study showing that Lactobacillus gasseri can decrease abdominal fat.

Exercise and movement are important. According to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Americans need to exercise or move every day, at least 45 minutes, to lose weight. Thirty minutes a day only helps us maintain our weight and not gain anymore.

We can always exercise. I was once stationed with a soldier who broke his neck and was paralyzed for months. He exercised his abdominal muscles every day by contracting and relaxing them, and when he recovered he had rock-hard abdominal muscles.

The biggest asset to achieving our ideal body weight and optimal health is our mental attitude. You must maintain a positive attitude and be goal oriented. Have a training partner or trainer whom you are accountable to.

A training partner won’t let you get lazy and skip a training session. Train for an event, such as a road race, sprint triathlon or 5K walk. Train for a specific mission, such as learning self-defense with a Krav Maga or Jiujitsu class.

Better yet, plan for a trip and train for the activities you want to do on that adventure.

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