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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, December 28, 2006

Create a vision of how you want to be

By Laurie Steelsmith

Join an exercise class and write your thoughts and progress in a journal. It’s about taking time out from your busy life to take care of yourself.

ERIC ALBRECHT | Associated Press

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Q. My New Year resolution is to lose weight by exercising more and eating better. In the past, I didn't seem to have the will power to stick with my resolutions. Do you have any suggestions?

A. Knowing what you need to do is one thing. Making it a reality is something else altogether. But as long as you have clear, reasonable goals, there's a lot you can do to help you attain — and maintain — your resolutions. Here's what I recommend.

First, create a vision of exactly who you want to be — your "ideal" self. Imagine the clothes you'll be wearing, the expression you'll have on your face, and how you'll feel. If you have a photograph of yourself taken at a time when you felt you were living up to your ideal vision of yourself, keep it at your bedside table or in your journal. Holding that picture in your thoughts will remind you of your potential to reach your goals.

Second, maintain a healthy relationship with yourself. My patients sometimes say they don't have time to take care of themselves — they're so busy taking care of others that they overlook their own needs. When they feel overburdened and exhausted, they may unconsciously "act out" with self-defeating behaviors such as eating an entire box of ice cream when the intention was to have only a small bowl. It's like saying, "Hey, I've given and given, so now I deserve to have whatever I want!" Unfortunately, this can lead to a vicious cycle of more weight gain and lower self-esteem.

To turn this cycle around, take time out from your busy life to take care of yourself. Do something just for you. For example, join an exercise class you've always wanted to participate in, journal your daily thoughts and feelings, or spend time relaxing with friends who support you in your goals. Most of all, have fun! You may be surprised to know that having fun can help you lose weight, but once you feel better in your body the lifestyle changes that allow for permanent weight loss naturally follow.

Finally, create affirmations that support your goals. Changing how your mind works can do wonders for lasting, healthy weight loss. If you catch yourself having a negative thought about your body, make a point to replace it with a positive one. If you find yourself wanting to avoid exercise, tell yourself that you absolutely enjoy moving your body. As simple as it sounds, replacing negative self-talk with positive self-talk can alter your life in powerful ways.

Here's to the new you in the new year!

Laurie Steelsmith is a naturopathic physician and licensed acupuncturist in Honolulu, as well as author of "Natural Choices for Women's Health" (Random House). Reach her and read her past columns at www.drsteelsmith.com. This column is for information only. Consult your health provider for medical advice.