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Spring is coming fast and, before we know it, the shorts and swimsuits will be coming out of the boxes in the closet. We all want to look good and feel better, especially with summer on the way. There are some simple lifestyle changes we can make that will help shed a few pounds without extreme dieting and rigorous exercise regiments.

Drink more water. Most people are dehydrated and do not even realize it. Sodas, coffee and tea all contain caffeine, which will dehydrate you even more. Being dehydrated saps a person of their energy, making getting up and moving a chore. Six to eight glasses of water a day in place of other beverages help you get the energy to do more.

Walking is a great way to lose a few pounds. It can be relaxing and it is not hard on your body. With gas prices as high as they are replace those short car trips with a walk. Parking at the far end of the parking lot when you go shopping and walking in is a great way to add a little exercise to your life. Another thing you can do is skip the elevator and take the stairs. Let's face it; a lot more calories are burned walking up a flight of stairs than pushing a button.

Turn off the TV and go outside and play. Playing with your kids or pets is a fun and wonderful way to get your body moving. A fun game of tag, catch or fetch will help you burn off the pounds while giving you a chance to have some quality time with your family. If the weather outside is less than desirable, crank the stereo and dance with you kids or spouse. There is always the joy of going puddle stomping too. These types of activities also add laughter to your life and laughing too will burn calories and give you energy.

Most importantly, you have to eat. Yes, eat. The body is an odd, but smart machine that will store fat away when it goes through starvation periods. It is protecting itself for the next period of hunger. Your body needs fuel and food is it. Eating reasonably sized meals and snacks throughout the day, 5-6 times a day, will keep your energy up and let your body know it does not have to store fat. Make healthy, fresh food choices. Keep fruit and veggies on hand. Processed foods are hard for the body to break down and do not provide as much nutrition as fresh, unprocessed food. You will have to eat more processed foods to get the same energy for your body. Avoid eating until you are completely stuffed. Stop when you are no longer hungry. Make yourself aware of when and why you eat. Eating out of boredom or stress should be replaced with other activities.

These simple changes can be a first step in becoming a thinner, healthier you. Over time you will find you have more energy and can add exercise programs that will help you tone up and lose weight. Before you take on any exercise program or diet, check with your doctor. He/she can help you design a program that will benefit you best.