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The question: So far I have managed to accomplish only part of my New Year's goal. I have lost four of the 10 pounds I vowed to lose, but I am losing motivation. Any advice?

The answer: First, congratulate yourself on losing the four pounds!

Next, make sure you need to lose six more pounds. Double check that your goal isn't based on an unhealthy image of health. If losing six more pounds is healthy and realistic, write down why your goal is important to you, how great you will feel when (not if, be positive) you accomplish it, and how frustrated you will feel if you sabotage yourself. Any time you contemplate deviating from your plan, read the list.

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In addition, brainstorm other non-aesthetic fitness goals, such as increased energy and improved sleep and athleticism. Adopting a healthier lifestyle is about more than losing weight. Plus, the more reasons you have to stick to your goals, the more likely you are to follow through.

When you have an urge to make a snap decision regarding your health, give yourself a pep talk. First, remind yourself that until you change your health habits and taste buds, making healthier choices will take mindfulness and dedication. Next, imagine how the decision will impact the rest of your day and your overall life goals. Although skipping a workout might seem like the better choice in the short term, long-term it will not make you satisfied.

Whenever I want to skip a workout, I first imagine how I will feel if I accomplish my workout. I will feel great! I then imagine how I would feel if I skip the workout – crappy! Reminding myself of how good I will feel post-workout is my personal selling point. Find your own selling point and remind yourself of it whenever you feel like skipping your workout or having a second helping of pie.

If you realize you made an unrealistic goal, draft fresh ones. The most important things is that if you don't succeed initially, keep trying. Adopting a healthier lifestyle is a marathon, not a sprint!

Trainer's tip: Don't fixate on the number on the scale. The scale doesn't tell you if you have lost fat, water or muscle. Take measurements, concentrate on feeling better and how your clothes fit. Aim for fat loss, not just weight loss on the scale.

Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for 10 years. Her website is www.kathleentrotter.com.

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