Most everyone who has lost weight — and kept it off — knows the secret to weight loss is to do it in a way that is healthy and causes a permanent change in lifestyle.

Popular TV shows such as "The Biggest Loser" have brought attention to the fact that healthy weight loss can be a lot of work. A change in lifestyle must include several elements such as exercise, nutrition changes, and motivation.

According to information from the Mayo Clinic, a slow and steady approach is easier to maintain and usually beats out fast weight loss for the long term. A weight loss of one to two 2 pounds a week is the typical recommendation. Remember that one pound (0.45 kilogram) of fat contains 3,500 calories. So you need to burn 500 more calories than you eat each day to lose one pound a week (500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories). If you lose a lot of weight very quickly, it may not be fat that you're losing. It's might be water weight or even lean tissue, since it's hard to burn that many fat calories in a short period. (

Within the spectrum of healthy living, there are many choices of people and businesses which can help you get healthy. These include personal trainers, nutritionists, boot camps, exercise clubs, educational classes and medical intervention.

Most people need one-on-one encouragement to maintain a balance of exercise and healthy eating. Personal training and fitness coaches have become very popular and provide that motivation. Most fitness coaches have some level of fitness education and / or training, and they will meet you at a training facility or even at home. When choosing a fitness trainer, ask what kind of training they have and how long their training program was. Some trainers may have as little as a weekend of training but have years of experience, and others can have an in-depth training program with various levels of hands-on success.

The trusting relationship that you develop with your personal trainer or educator is key in your success in healthy weight loss. Weight loss can be a challenging process, but if the connection with those who are assisting you can help in motivation and goal-setting, your lifestyle change might stick.

Other than fitness trainers, there are life coaches that can help you look at your overall lifestyle and make recommendations based on your goals. There are various businesses to help on different levels of training, education and motivation. Some businesses offer a combination of services to fit the needs of a wider range of people.

Natural Life Health Oasis, owned by Dr. Lisa Orwick and lifestyle coach Anna Burchard, offers a 12-week educational program that encourages lifestyle modification changes. Programs such as this suggest a modified Mediterranean diet with supplements and also has certified personal trainers as well as other professionals such as chiropractors, massage therapists and others to help with stress management and overall wellness.

Several businesses in Tucson also specialize in helping provide the right equipment for each mode of exercise. The Running Shop, located on N. Campbell Ave., helps analyze what type of shoe is best for your needs. Owner Sharon Bart says shoes can be the most important piece of equipment.

"We have been in business for 29 years, fitting everyone from beginning walkers, to elderly, to expert marathoners," said Bart. The Running Shop also has resources to help runners to train for the upcoming Get Moving Tucson event. They can be contacted by calling 325-5097.

Nutrition is the other key to weight loss, and nutritionists are available individually and at weight loss clinics in the area. Even if your budget will not allow a specific weight loss program, a one-time consultation with a nutritionist or dietitian can be a basic education on how to re-structure your eating habits to reach your goals of caloric and nutritional intake. A professional consultation can shed light, integrating special needs such as dietetic, low-carb or diet-restrictive programs into your daily lifestyle.

In situations where there are life-threatening medical problems stemming from severe obesity, there are surgically-based programs, such as lap band surgery. If you think you might be a candidate for surgical intervention, you can go to for information and a list of providers in your area.

Some insurance companies will cover lap band procedures if deemed medically necessary. Extensive education about nutrition and exercise changes are usually included in these programs, producing dramatic life-changing results. However, even people in these programs can relapse into weight gain if they don't follow the recommended lifestyle changes.

If you have thought about getting into shape, now is always a good time. There are exercise facilities and other opportunities listed in The Explorer weekly, and there are businesses designed around your healthy weight loss needs.

In Tucson and surrounding areas, there are annual running, biking and fitness-related events which are easily accessible for all levels of fitness and all ages. When beginning a healthy weight loss program, taking the dog for a walk can be a great place to start. Just ask about upcoming events, activities, competitions or races and local fitness clubs or shops, and set a goal for yourself. Your lifestyle change could be just around the corner.

For more information about health care services in Tucson, contact Brooke Martin at Healthcare Communications, e-mail; web

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