Small steps are crucial as you work to make big changes with your health

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Jerry Hayes and Greg Screws continue to work hard to get healthy.  We're tracking their journey in a series of stories called "Health Matters."

One thing both men have learned -- it's one step at a time.  If you lose five to 10 percent of your body weight, it can have huge implications for your health.

"That means you may be able to cut down on your medication," said Linda Steakley, a Registered Dietitian & Nutritionist with Huntsville Hospital.  "Your joints may not hurt as much.  You may feel like you have a little bit more energy.  And part of that is that you are putting healthy food back in your body."

Steakley says if you're starting the journey to good health, don't get overwhelmed.  Start with small steps.

"Just a little weight loss... There is a good benefit from it.  A little bit of weight loss is good from it," said Steakley.  'A little bit of weight loss is good but keeping it off is what you really want to do."

Another important first step is to plan what you are going to eat and when you can take that first step exercising.

"If you will just plan the whole week -- plan five days in advance, plan your work week -- you can do that because that's not going to change a whole lot," Steakley suggested. "So plan what you are gonna take for lunch every day.  Plan what you are gonna have for breakfast, and what you are gonna have for dinner. Where you are gonna go for dinner.  Have those food on hands that you are going to need.  Have salads on hand. The smoothie ingredients. The light calorie bread. The lean luncheon meats... have those things on hand."

That's one of the things Greg says was a big challenge for him.  He's been planning for the gym and food, and says that is actually harder for him than the workout.

Health Matters airs every Monday on WHNT News 19 at 4:00 p.m.