Approximately 33 billion dollars are spent on health and fitness products annually. WOW! 33 billion dollars! Not million…but BILLION! That’s astonishing. But, if this is true then why are so many people in the U.S. overweight? According to a study from the Center for Disease Control, 35% of the U.S. population is overweight and 27% are clinically obese. That’s well over half of our population. That’s amazing.Being overweight has many detrimental effects, not only physically, but psychologically as well, leading to lower levels of confidence in ourselves and appearance. Carrying excess body fat can result in very serious health concerns including, coronary arterial disease, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and increased levels of stress. And these are just a few negative health issues, that can often times lead to additional problems.With all of the information available to us these days, why are so many people still struggling with so many health problems that in many instances can be prevented? Well, it’s a combination of many things, including lack of proper education. There is so much information available to us it’s hard to decipher what is the truth and what’s not. This can be very confusing, typically guiding the public in the wrong direction. Also, too many people are looking for the easy or fast solution with the least amount of effort. Unfortunately, there is not short cut, or magic exercise machine or trendy diet that is going to help you reach the desired health benefits that you want.There are things that we can do to help us live healthier lives. For starters, we must change our behaviors. Most health problems are due to poor eating habits and being too sedentary. We have to stop depending on high saturated fats and high sugary meals (comfort foods) when we feel down or want something that will make us feel better. When I have days when I’m stressed, or generally feeling down about things, I exercise. It’s a fact that when one exercises, the brain releases chemicals that not only increase our energy levels but make us feel great. The more habit forming we can make this than the better we will feel on a regular basis.Developing good nutritional habits is a key component in striving for better health. Rather than jumping on the latest fashionable diet craze. Try to find eating healthier in ways that work on a more individualized level. One diet cannot possibly work for everyone on the planet, despite what the bestselling books want you to believe. We have to consider our genetic makeup along with our overall health issues and goals. Eliminating certain food groups is not the answer. There are certain macronutrients our bodies need to survive; fats, protein, and carbohydrates. Start out by eating many small meals through ought the day, preferably 5-6. I’m not saying to eat five meals that are going to make you so full that you can’t even move. But eat smaller meals, snacking between each one. For example, yogurt and a piece of fruit can be a wonderfully healthy snack. Fruits and vegetables not only make great snacks but they have extremely high nutritional value. They are loaded with disease fighting antioxidants. Plus, it’s almost impossible to eat too many fruits or vegetables. You would have to consume literally hundreds of pieces.In addition, start the day by drinking a glass of water, this will aid in getting a jump on the hydration process. Follow that up with roughly 6-8 glasses of water throughout the day. If you are exercising regularly, drink more. But if you are just starting to form this habit, slowly begin by drinking 4 glasses daily gradually increasing your water intake as you feel comfortable. Your muscles are made up of 75% water. The more hydrated they are, than the easier it is for them to do their job. This holds true for your heart, as well. The reason for eating often is to increase your metabolism. Combining exercise with healthy eating habits will speed up your metabolism. This will turn your body into a more efficient fat and calorie burning machine.Building lean muscle also increases our metabolism, thus burns fat at a higher rate. Muscle burns 9 calories per hour while your body is at rest, compared to fat, which burns 4 calories per hour while at rest. That’s more than twice as much! Can you believe it? By simply getting set up on an effective strength training program we can burn more fat!Also, cardiovascular exercise is an important part to the health and fitness equation. Not only is cardiovascular exercise great for your heart, but it too burns calories. A general rule of thumb is that for every mile you walk or jog, you will burn roughly 100 calories. Not to mention the incredible benefits your body will discover from more efficient oxygen intake ultimately leading to a lower resting heart rate.An important concept to keep in mind is to become more active. This might include walking more often, such as using the stairs rather than the elevator, or parking your car farther away while at the mall. Even performing some simple calisthenics, like jumping jacks, skipping rope, push-ups, sit-ups or anything that will increase your heart rate will help you get a jump on your fitness program. While watching your favorite half hour sitcom, try exercising during every commercial break. By simply getting your body moving, you will feel amazingly better. All it takes is some commitment, a little creativity and the desire to make you feel better.For maximum results, a complete health and fitness program includes all three components; eating healthy, strength training, and cardiovascular exercise. But as I mentioned earlier, everyone has different genetics, health concerns, and goals. Therefore it is critical to first consult your doctor before starting any program and then contact qualified professionals, such as a nutritionist and personal trainer.