I've looked at articles and news stories about who is to blame for our obesity problem. I've also been obese. I can tell you from personal experience that if I spend my time justifying my weight and looking for someone to shoulder the blame, I'd either still be obese or I'd be dead.

It's time for us to look up from the keyboard and recognize that we are in this mess because of the decisions we've made in the past. The only way to get out of this mess is to take on some personal accountability and do the things necessary to lose weight and regain our health.

I can tell you that I am not yet to my goal weight, but I've come more than halfway to it. If I can do it, so can you. Here are a few suggestions that may help you.

1) Counting Calories Matters : Most of the time, we focus on the calories we eat and not those we burn. This is not a good idea. In order to know how much you can safely eat, you need to know how many you've used. There are a number of good calculators on the internet. Find one that has a list of the foods you normally eat as well as the activities you do. Make sure that it takes into account the amount of time you've done the activity, what you weigh and your age / gender.

2) Calories are Different : In the strict definition of the word, all calories are the same. However, when it comes to your diet, not all of them are. As an example, a piece of white bread and a piece of whole grain bread have a fairly similar amount. However, the fiber content of the whole grains means that absorption of them is blocked. The whole grain is also able to block some cholesterol and it helps clean out your digestive tract.

3) Get Moving : Exercise can help raise your metabolism, which means you burn them at a higher rate the rest of the day. It also improves muscle tone and of course is a primary burner while you're doing it. Walking is great, and if you can safely do it, hiking is even better. Both are cardio workouts, but you burn more in hiking, due to the terrain.

4) On Eating : This is one of the biggest mistakes new dieters make. They go on a strict, very low calorie diet and pour on the exercise. Yes, you will lose weight for a couple of weeks, but it will not be fat. Your body will go into famine mode and burn muscle instead. It will also store every possible calorie as fat in order to survive the famine. Keep your calorie deficiency below fifteen percent daily.

5) Supplemental Safety : Some people may benefit from supplements, though they are not for everyone. Caffeine, green tea and hoodia are reliably safe if you do not have underlying medical complaints. They do have side effects, so approach them with caution.

6) Talk to Experts : There are a lot of professionals that can help you achieve your goals. Your doctor is a must. Injuries and side effects could stop your plan fast. You may also want to talk to a nutritionist, a qualified herbal practitioner and a personal trainer.

We can, as a nation, lose the weight. All we have to do is stand up, take responsibility for our actions and make the necessary changes.