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Almost every day, it seems you hear about a new diet or pill that is guaranteed to make you lose so many pounds in just a few days or weeks - even while you sleep! The ads are intriguing - who wouldn’t like to find a fast, easy way to make those extra pounds melt away? But the reality is that these fad diets and pills are not the healthiest, most practical way to lose weight - in fact, many could be dangerous to your health.

Medical experts around the world all encourage people to take a sensible approach to weight loss. This means making reasonable changes in your diet and physical activities so that you eat fewer calories than you burn.

The basic rules of thumb for healthy weight loss are to: 1)lose one pound of fat you have to burn 3,500 more calories more than you consume and 2)lose only 1-2 pounds per week. So if your goal is to lose 1 pound per week, that means that over the week’s time, you want to burn 3,500 calories more than you eat. You could do this by adding an activity each day that burns 500 calories. A better approach is to split the 500 calories between exercise and food - for example, eat 250 calories less of food and burn 250 calories doing exercise.

Avoid the temptation of starving yourself or doing long, extended workouts to get the pounds off quicker. Your body is an amazing machine, with its own system of checks and balances, and it will adjust as necessary to survive. For example, your body realizes that it is not getting much food, it goes into conservation mode - slowing down the metabolism to get the most out of the calories it is getting.

So be smart - be sensible in your approach to weight loss. Consult your physician or other health care provider on what diet and exercise makes the most sense for you.

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