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First, do no harm . . . to yourself Steve Guse, 39, of Sioux Falls, S.D.

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Some of the readers who are following USA TODAY's Weight-Loss Challenge are medical professionals who have seen firsthand the health consequences of obesity. n They are worried because they are too heavy themselves and realize that if they don't do something now, one day they'll end up being the patient. n Today, reporter Nanci Hellmich profiles a nurse and a physician who are participating in the challenge.

n The series continues on

Mondays through August, offering practical advice, including menus and recipes. No signup is needed.

Occupation: Physical medicine and rehabilitation physician in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Starting weight: 279 pounds

Height: 6-foot-4

Food history: ''I am an ex- college football player, and some of the ripples have turned to rolls. I've had a steady weight gain over the years, about 3 to 5 pounds a year since college. My biggest problem is free food -- going to an all-you-can-eat buffet or the doctor's lounge for lunch is bad news for me.''

Motivation: ''I want to be a role model for my patients who need to lose weight. I want to lose about 50 pounds to give my joints a break. Also, I have a very strong family history of cardiovascular problems and want to lower my risk for stroke and heart attack without going on medications. I'm sick of being heavy.''

Eating plan: Cut calories and focus on a low-carb diet. ''I've read Atkins, Protein Power and The South Beach Diet. I'm not following any of these diets verbatim but focusing on eating quality proteins and avoiding beer and white stuff: sugar, flour, rice, pasta.''

Exercise plan: ''In addition to playing more racquetball, I'm trying to lift weights two to three times a week and walk on the treadmill. I have a pedometer and am shooting for an average of at least 10,000 steps a day.''

Progress: ''In the first two weeks of the challenge, I've lost about 13 pounds by averaging about 1,200 calories a day and avoiding carbs. Almonds and beef jerky have replaced gumdrops and M&Ms. Whenever I get a craving, I just go to the gym or go to the closet and find another pair of pants that don't quite fit yet. It's amazing what losing 10 pounds can do for your motivation.''

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