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posted: 2/14/2013 8:51 AM

Editorial: Here's some inspiration for gift of love

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The Daily Herald Editorial Board

OK, so the New Year's resolution thing didn't work out. And giving something up for Lent may not be enough. But today is Valentine's Day. A day to prove your love for someone in your life.

Need some inspiration? Read about the seven people who are taking part over the next three months in the Daily Herald Fittest Loser contest. Taking steps to get healthy is one of the ultimate ways you can tell that special someone that you care and want to be around for a long time.

For example, listen to Marianne Costales-Roman, a 37-year-old Carol Stream wife, mother and caretaker for her disabled mother and autistic brother. Yes, her life, which also includes two jobs, is crazy busy. But with a starting weight of 222 and already diagnosed as prediabetic and on medication for high blood pressure, she knows she has to make changes.

"I want to start living my life actively, not just existing," she said. "I want to be around for my two daughters, my mon and my brother. I want to share a lifetime with my wonderful husband, Ramiro."

Talk about a Valentine's gift of love right there. Need more?

Consider 33-year-old Megan McCarthy-Cook of Hoffman Estates, who is participating in the Fittest Loser challenge so her mom, battling lung cancer, can see her daughter get healthy. "I'm borderline everything. Prediabetic, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and I found out my triglycerides are twice the number they should be," McCarthy-Cook said. "All of these can be improved with diet and exercise."

Indeed, it's that simple. And that hard. Changing a lifetime of bad habits can be daunting. But all of our Fittest Loser contestants have goals to reach and people, whether it be their trainers or their family and friends, to help reach them. But most importantly, they have the desire to change their life for the better.

An 18-year-old wants to get in shape for his high school prom and a 58-year-old coach wants to get down to his wedding weight of 31 years ago. One contestant simply said she's tired of being fat.

If all their inspiring stories are not enough to convince you that exercising and eating right is important for your long-term health, maybe cold hard facts will help.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.

In 2008, medical costs associated with obesity were estimated at $147 billion; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight, according to the CDC website.

Preventable. Costly. Deadly.

Talk to your doctor, visit a health club, put away that box of chocolates in favor of some fruit or vegetables. Do it for your family. Even better, do it for yourself.

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