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As I sat down at the dinner table, I found myself surrounded by pages of paper littered with numbers. These numbers are associated with foods. That is when I realized the resolutions made on New Year's Day have really kicked in. My family is on a diet.

What I have not come to understand, however, is why people think that dieting alone will make them lose weight. They overlook the fact that they also need exercise in order to reach their goals.

I turned to my mother and sister as they were rationing whatever food they could and asked why they were eating on a point system. They replied with a simple, "We want to lose weight and get in shape."

"Well, are you exercising?" I asked. The looks they shot me could have knocked me out of my chair.

Without receiving an answer, I became angry and began to explain that it took more than just eating a balanced diet to lose weight, and that they needed to have some sort of physical activity in order to burn the excess fat. This isn't the first diet that members of my family have tried. Last year it was the South Beach craze, and the year before that it was the Atkins diet. But neither of the diets worked the way it was intended to, and eventually they gave up.

They were only slowing down the weight gain when they really wanted to get rid of it, and they needed to start exercising in order to speed up the process.

When I look at my family's dieting strategies, I wonder how many other people out there overlook the need for exercise, and strongly believe that just eating the right thing will make them drop five pounds in a week. People should know by now that a certain amount of exercise is required to lose weight.

How hard is it to just jump on a treadmill for half an hour, or do some aerobics in your own home? With the money people are saving on food, they could easily join a gym and take 20 minutes out of their day to exercise.

People tend to make exercising out to be harder than it really is. They say they just don't have the time, or that they have something else to do, but these are merely excuses that they use to avoid physical activity.

Exercise is just as important as what people eat when they are dieting. If they can regiment their physical activity like they regiment their food intake, they will have no problem losing weight and keeping it off after they have reached their goals.

I think the biggest problem is getting someone to close the gap between sitting on the couch and burning off the fat. These people need something other than personal motivation to get where they want to go.

Most people make their New Year's resolution to help themselves, but this year I am making mine to help my family members reach their goals. I'm going to be there for them, not only monitoring what they do, but supporting them as well.

I am going to push them to exercise, because I know that it will help them in the long run, and in the end they will be pleased with the results.

MATTHEW POOLE is a student at Niagara University.