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Editor's note: With the help of an $8,700 county grant, a Fla. city retrofitted one of its five ambulances with a more powerful automated stretcher that holds more weight and has a wider bed. Editorial Advisor Art Hsieh says it’s not just the patients that are overweight— many EMS providers could stand to lose a few pounds as well, himself included.

Alright folks, I am going to admit: I'm overweight. Not terribly, mind you, but enough that it's not comfortable. My guess is that I need to lose 20 to 25 pounds to get to being comfortable. Notice that I'm not even pushing for skinny — I just want to feel comfortable and in control of my weight and dietary habits. I even know why I'm overweight:

1. Residual bad eating habits, after decades of shoveling food in between calls.
2. Poor foods to eat — high in fat, cholesterol and salt.
3. Lack of exercise — these days I jockey chairs and keyboards, rather than lifting patients and moving around.
4. Stress eating — the more I stress, the more I eat.

They say that's acknowledgement of the problem is 50 percent of the battle. I disagree — maybe it's 30 percent for me. Despite knowing all of this, I haven't felt the motivation to do something about my weight in the past five years. Here are my excuses:

1. I'm too busy. Not enough time in the day, and it's the easiest thing for me to ignore.
2. I'm young, I can catch up on the exercise and weight reduction.
3. Isn't there a pill for this? I'm waiting for that, and life will be good.

Unfortunately, none of these excuses are legitimate. I have to make time to exercise, I'm not that young, and crack or meth has too many side effects.

Is this you, too? I know that many of us use a variety or rationales to not try to lose weight. I look around any of the local or national conferences I attend and I'm struck by the fact that many of us are walking time bombs, ripe for a blown back, torn shoulder or knee, or sudden heart attack. It's sobering.

This article is telling the story of how we as a nation are not heeding the calls from health experts, and we are seriously injuring our own health. We are adapting our equipment to take care of our patients. Bariatric medicine is "all the rage," with no sign that it's going to fade.

Well, I'm going to do something about it, at least for me. The article tipped the scale for me, so to speak, in terms of motivation. I don't want to be the patient that requires bariatric devices and care as I grow older. Over the next year, I am determined to lose the excess weight, and improve my overall health.

And, here's my invitation: Will you join me? I'd love to create a group of us who are interested in improving our health. It'll be simple — we check in through the column comments, and come and go as you see fit. It would be great to see how many pounds we can collectively lose over the course of a year.

Along the way, I hope we can provide each other encouragement and good tips to make this endeavor feel less like work and more like fun, which is hugely motivational to me. At the end, we'll all be better off, and that's the pay off.

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