Many of us struggle to lose weight. We work hard for a few months and then we put weight back on. Herein lies our problem: we eat as if we are going to lose weight for the interim and then go back to our old ways. Often we set ourselves up to fail by following unwise diets, like the grapefruit diet, the soup diet and other quick fixes. While most of us should lose a few pounds, radical diets and crazy eating practices just set many of us up for failure. It is no wonder we get desperate to lose quickly when we see super skinny women in fashion magazines. I enjoy seeing normal weight women who are fit like Beyonce, Salma Hayek and so on. A little curve and a strong body are much more appealing plus, most of all, obtainable.

Our fat gauging tools can certainly throw one for a loop. The BMI, Body Mass Index, -- which is a measure of height to weight ratio that is a formula that doctors use to calculate obesity -- is not always accurate. For example, my husband is 185 pounds and six feet tall. According to the BMI, he is in the overweight category. However, he is super slim and fit. This measuring device doesn’t account for muscle. Any woman who is muscular and weighs more will be deemed overweight as well. It is best to look at your weight as a way to compare yourself before and after and to help you to set goals.

An even better indicator of health and body fat is your hip to waist ratio. Waist-to-hip ratio is calculated by dividing the circumference of the waist by the circumference of the hips. More belly fat results in higher ratios. An eight-fold increased risk for stroke is seen in those with ratios that were greater than 0.97 for men and 0.84 for women.

If the waist circumference is greater than 40.2 inches for men or 34.6 inches for women, the risk of stroke increases more than four-fold compared to individuals with a normal waist size, according to researchers. Some diseases are more prevalent when there is more fat around your midsection. These include:

· Heart disease (hypertension, heart attack and stroke)

· High cholesterol (low good cholesterol HDL,which helps to protect people from strokes, and high bad cholesterol LDL)

· Diabetes

· Cancer

What Can You Do To Lose Weight?

· First of all, do not obsess about your excess weight. It will come off. Eating healthy should be your lifestyle choice. Eating too little can stunt your metabolism. Make sure you eat three square meals per day with small snacks mid-morning and afternoon. Be sure the quality of the food is high and the quantity is reasonable.

· Eat about fifty percent or more of your daily food intake as vegetables or fruit. This keeps you healthy and wards off many diseases. Be sure to eat healthy meats such as lean turkey, chicken, fish and game meats such as elk and bison which are very lean. Eat healthy vegetarian meals from time to time to replace your meat meals. People who eat vegetarian meals tend to have a longer lifespan than those who eat more animal meat. Eat whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, bulgur, millet or whole wheat. However, do not eat many grains in the day because those extra starches add up and keep extra weight on.

· Avoid fruit juices, refined carbohydrates like white sugar, white rice and pasta, pop, fast foods and anything deep fried. Limit your consumption of potatoes as they are starchy and tend to pack on the pounds.

· Eat low glycemic and low fat foods. For a list of low, refer to my book "Your Drug Free Guide to Healthy Weight Loss"

For those who need to count calories and keep track of your food intake, try out this ratio to lose weight: 40% carbohydrates (carbs), 30% fat and 30% proteins. Here’s how to calculate your daily intake of calories and carb, fat and protein grams. If you desire to weigh 135 lbs, you would multiply your goal weight by 9, so your desired weight “135” x 9 = 1215 calories per day. This number of calories is for a moderately active person. If you are very physical, you could increase it to a multiplier of 10 or even 11. If you are sedentary, you could decrease it to 8. 40% of your calories should come from carbs. 1215 x .40 = 486 calories. 486 divided by 4 (carbs have four calories per gram) = 121.5 grams per day of carbohydrates. 30% of your calories will come from proteins. 1215 x .30 = 364.5 calories. For protein, there are 4 calories per gram. 364.5 divided by 4 equals 91 grams per day of proteins per day. 30% of your calories will come from fats. 1215 x .30 = 364.5 calories. Fats have 9 calories per gram. 364.5 divided by 9 = 40.5 grams of fats per day. To calculate your grams daily, I recommend getting the book called “The Nutribase Guide to Food Counts” or one like it. It is very handy and costs about $20.00. You can buy it from your local bookstore.

Exercise every day. I have heard many excuses as to why people don’t exercise. There is no reason someone cannot move. It can be as simple as walking to work, riding your bike or using the stairs. You don’t have to be a tri-athlete to get your rear in gear. Go for a nice walk for half an hour a day. If you have problems with walking, swimming is easy on the joints. There are many fun things we can do to keep active. You can join a dance class (salsa, jazz, ballroom, contra, couples). Try a relaxing exercise class such as Tai Chi, Chi Gong or Yoga. Play hide and seek, tag or badminton with your kids outside. There are many fun ways to move your derriere. Even plan an outing at the zoo, an art gallery or museum. There is a lot of walking done there, plus it takes your mind off having to move. Studies have shown that people who live to be older than 100 were active everyday, doing physical chores. They cleaned their own house, worked in their garden or walked every day.

Enlist a friend to diet or exercise with. Having a support network is well worth it. Plus, in sharing, people tend to fair better than those who go it alone. Call a friend, family member or start a biggest loser contest at work. Our office has eight women competing for the title of biggest loser. We are having fun ribbing each other and have the fire of competition in us.

Author's Bio: 

Heather Caruso is a best selling author of the book, "Your Drug Free Guide to Digestive Health" and homeopath in private practice for the past decade plus in Guelph Ontario. She has written another book called "Your Drug Free Guide to Healthy Weight Loss" which helps people to not diet, but to eat to stay healthy and uncovers barriers to weight loss and how to beat them with natural remedies.