I’ve got a problem with the article that popped up on the TIME magazine website recently, entitled “Why Are Southerners So Fat?”  This disappointment stems from a different source than you may think, however.  True, I am Southern, as I currently live in Charlotte, NC and I’ve only lived in North Carolina and Virginia.  However, I don’t like NASCAR, have all my teeth (outside of the wisdom teeth that were removed) and have no one in my family affectionately referred to as “Bubba.”  My mom does have a specialty of Fried Chicken, Fried Okra and green beans, but that’s once a year as she’s too busy doing Half-Ironman’s in her free-time.

None of my disappointment with this article has to do with the singling out of Southerners though.  If you read through the article you’ll notice that it does a decent job of balancing out that it’s not just Southerners, there’s a lot of fat to go around all throughout the US.  I think the most frustrating thing about the article is that it presents the problem (people are fat) without offering any solutions or guidance.  I’m really not sure what value came out of the article that was written by TIME, other than letting everyone that knew they were fat know that someone else noticed they’re fat as well.

The supporting links throughout the article are even more ridiculous.  In an article detailing how Southerners are fat, TIME thinks it’s a good idea to link to the following:

– Read “A Brief History of Barbeque”

– See pictures of the perfect Steak

– See the Top 10 food trends of 2008

– See a special report on the science of appetite

One of four on helpful links.  Good job TIME magazine.

Since they didn’t devote any of the article to helpful information so you can learn to be healthy, or help someone you know not be healthier, here are my tips to help you lose weight, stay motivated and become healthier, whatever your goals may be.  I have repeated these over and over to friends that have come to me after seeing my weight loss and I hope they continue to help people meet their goals.

Write down your goals.  I started with a goal to lose 40lbs, got to that and then tacked on another 30.  They’re not set in stone, but they’re a good starting place.

Make people aware of your goals.  Those people should be your friends and family that are going to ask you about what you’re doing, how much weight you’ve lost, how it’s going and offer you encouragement.

Join a gym. More power to you if you can do it on your own, but the benefits of a gym are amazing.  When you start going to classes, you have the benefit of someone telling you what to do and guiding you to make sure you’re doing it right.  You also meet new contacts that you start to see on a regular basis, eventually moving into friendships.  These friends keep you accountable and will ask why you weren’t at that Zumba class last Thursday or if you want to go for a run over the weekend.

Meet with a nutritionist. Even if it’s just once, meeting with a nutritionist is a huge help.  Learning about what a real serving size is, when you should eat certain foods and the amount of calories you should be having is a huge help.  It will really open up your eyes when you realize the amount of food you should be eating and how it affects you throughout the day.

Take pictures. You see yourself everyday when you look in the mirror, so you’re not going to notice the small changes.  Take pictures and look at them once a week, you’ll really start to notice where you’re toning up and losing weight.

Weigh yourself once a week. People obsess about weight, and I will admit to having done it when I started my weight loss.  Weighing once a week helps to make sure you’re on the right track without making it a compulsive habit.  Try to weigh at the same time of the day in an attempt to make your weigh-ins consistent.

Obviously there are a lot more things you can do to become healthier, but I think this is a good start.  As always, please feel free to ask questions if something I wrote doesn’t make sense or it’s bouncing around in your head.  Good luck!