January 5th, 2010
01:40 PM ET

Getting ready to drop the pounds

By Val Willingham
CNN Medical Producer

My goal this year is to lose weight. Pure and simple. I refuse to become part of the obesity statistics that seem to be increasing in this country. In fact in a new study in next month's issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers from Columbia University and the City College of New York found as the number of overweight Americans continues to increase, and nationwide smoking rates decline, obesity has become an equal, if not greater, contributor to the mortality rate in the U.S. We need to do something. So for once, this is one trend I don't want to be a part of.

So what have I done to try and lose the pounds? Well, I've set my goal (25 lbs for this year which fitness experts say is realistic) and how I am going to do it (eat less, exercise more. And no crazy diets). I've told my husband how much I weigh and how much I want to lose so he can be supportive and be a cheerleader as I lose the weight.

I have purchased a journal to write down what I eat each day, my daily weight and how I feel. I will also log my exercise routine. Studies show people who keep a log of what they eat stay focused on their weight loss and tend to keep the pounds off.

I am fortunate enough to belong to a great gym where classes in aerobics and other activities are included in our membership. I am going back to spinning class, taking up light weights and hitting the pool once a week. I may expand my routine to a weekly yoga class and a boxing class as time permits.

My motivation is tacked right on my refrigerator. It's a picture of me (oh shudder!) in my bathing suit (luckily I only live with my hubby and our Jack Russell) and a list of my numbers from my latest checkup (blood pressure bordering on high).   This weekend I cleaned out the refrigerator and cupboard of all the high fat, high caloric foods and replaced them with lots of fiber, veggies, fruits and low-fat milk and cheese. I also bought a few low-fat, low calorie frozen dinners for emergencies in case I or my husband can't cook.   They’re a little high in salt, but it's better than grabbing fast food.

And I plan to bring my lunch to work (that's not only good for the waistline but also for the budget!).  And although I don't drink many of them, I have eliminated sodas from my diet, replacing my drinks with sparkling water or filtered water from my fridge. And no more fancy water drinks, they have just as many calories as sodas.

I have set my bedtime to 10 pm, because people who get a good 7 to 8 hours of sleep avoid weight gain, according to sleep experts. And I have a "No Eating After 8 pm" policy I plan to stick to.

All these changes didn't happen on January 1st. I knew I wanted to lose weight so I took a month to get ready. I will start my first journal log on January 7th, because in one month I will turn 54 and I want to be able to look back on the month before and see where I've been. And maybe from time to time I will blog on my progress? What a great motivator that would be!!!

Here's to a Healthy New Year.

Do you have health goals for 2010? How are you approaching them? We'd like to hear about them.

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.