I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but quite frankly, I think you may probably already know what I’m about to write. New research reveals that belly fat can double the risk of death for patients with heart disease. It’s been known for years that belly fat is “worse” fat than extra weight put on in the hips and thighs. There seems to be an higher risk of diabetes, cancer and heart disease for people with increased belly fat. But this recent research study was large (16,000 people) and it revealed a pretty significant figure—that belly fat can double your risk of death under the right circumstances (you have heart disease).

In an ideal world just reading that would inspire anyone at risk to try and lose weight, but I know it’s not that easy. Heck, I’ve been trying to lead a healthy lifestyle and get in the best shape of my life and it’s been slow going so far.

But if nothing else, if it doesn’t inspire you to lose weight or get in better health at least you can just make yourself aware. It’s a starting point. The research was done by the Mayo Clinic and there is an article on MPR News describing it more detail. The Mayo Clinic doesn’t leave you with just the bad news and no resources; they have suggestions for how to tell if your waist is too large and suggestions on how to make changes in your lifestyle.

We may not like the suggestions, unfortunately, there is no easy answer. It’s the real deal. We have to get more active and eat better in order to lose weight. There is no magic pill, and we can’t do crunches all day to reduce our waistline. It’s all about calories in calories out.

Here are some tips to help get you started if you think you might be at risk:

I have found it helpful in the past to track my calories in an excel spreadsheet, so you can really see what you’re eating. Remember you have to slash 3,500 calories to burn one pound of fat. Using excel takes time, but it really is helpful to see where you are getting and losing the most calories.

Start a 20 or 30-minute walking group at lunch. Leave a pair of sneakers at the office so you never have an excuse not to go.

Find a 5K or some other activities or charity you’d like to run or walk for and train for it with friends.

Consider a piece of fruit for dessert. I’ve noticed that if I’m not eating sweets, fruit tastes so much sweeter.