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Let’s face it, losing weight is hard work. There are no long-term effective shortcuts; successful weight loss is a series of consistent steps, day by day. It’s a simple equation that calories ingested must be less than calories expended, but the process itself takes discipline, willpower and commitment – whether you want to lose 10 pounds or 50.

Studies have shown that the most effective way to lose weight is a balance of a healthy, regulated diet combined with regular exercise. Meeting with a registered dietitian can get you on a customized nutrition plan designed to help shed pounds; check the American Dietetic Association for local professionals.

As for exercise, for the best results, most people need to do cardiovascular activity, where you elevate your heart rate into a training zone for 20-60 minutes, as well as strength training, in which you use weights or resistance bands. Cardiovascular activity, such as jogging or cycling, conditions the heart and lungs and burns calories. Strength training works the muscles and helps to raise your metabolism, so that you can burn more calories throughout the day – helping you lose weight.

If you belong to a health club, working with a personal trainer can help you get on track and keep going, whether you meet just one or two times, or for months.

For cardiovascular work, do what you like, such as swimming, stairclimbing, rowing or using an elliptical machine. To lose weight, you should exercise 3-6 times each week consistently.

There’s no particular cardio machine that is significantly more effective than the rest, but elliptical machines offer some valuable benefits:

1)    Low-impact – easy on the joints and manageable for any fitness level

2)    Total-body – working the arms and legs results in higher calorie burn

3)    Weight-bearing – standing exercise burns more calories than seated

4)    Lower perceived exertion – studies indicate on ellipticals, exercisers don’t feel that the workout is as hard as they are really working

5)    Variety – moving forward or backward, squatting down, or isolating the arms or legs changes the workout to challenge the body differently and add variety

While ellipticals are a great choice for cardio workouts, you don’t have to limit yourself to them. The body responds best when continually faced with various challenges, so vary your exercise as you can – jog one day, use the elliptical the next and cycle the following day. To lose weight, maintain a strict, healthy nutrition plan and keep moving by making exercise a habit.