Changing something as deeply rooted as your eating habits requires dedication, determination, and planning.As you move away from sugary beverages, your taste for water should return.In the meantime, try to be creative about ways to encourage yourself to drink more water.For instance, keep a beautiful cup that will inspire you to drink more water on your desk.And set goals for yourself throughout the day--try to hit a certain number of glasses by lunchtime or by mid-afternoon.What is my healthy-eating goal?Find a goal you know you can achieve; nothing overly ambitious.For instance: "Keep a food record for at least four days this week and at least two days next week." What is the most positive outcome of achieving this goal?This is crucial: You must be able to name and imagine a benefit.The positive outcome is what drives motivation and infuses meaning.For instance: "The food record will help me assess my diet habits, a critical first step needed before making healthful changes." What is the main obstacle standing in my way?Be very specific, noting the "when" and "where" the obstacle occurs.That will also take care of the accuracy issue." How do I prevent the obstacle from occurring in the first place?This means focusing on specifically when and where it would happen.Give your favorite foods a healthy makeover.This is important on two levels: It staves off feelings of deprivation and trains your tastes to prefer foods lower in sodium, sugar, and fat so that you might not want to return to the old versions.Choose one step and use the goal-setting worksheet for a realistic, doable plan to achieve your goal.Or, if you can swing it, work on two at a time.But it is a good starting point for just about everyone.As the successful maintainers whose stories dot this book illustrate, it is possible to overhaul your diet.Sure, we get stuck in a groove, but we all have the power to get out of it.We were meant to move.Beyond that, though, researchers are continually finding new ways that physical activity protects our health.We now know, for instance, that exercise strengthens the immune system in ways that can help the body fight everything from small infections to cancer.In another way, by keeping the body leaner, exercise also helps guard against cancers that are associated with body fat, including cancers of the esophagus, pancreas, colon, kidney, and breast.

Lowering body fat is one way that physical activity protects against heart disease and diabetes, too.The number one reason is that many people simply hate exercise.It is the biggest barrier to regular physical activity and, by extension, one of the biggest barriers to long-term weight loss success.But let me state it simply: You really need to do it.One thing we know for sure is that people who have long-term success are physically active.You have to exercise.You may never learn to love exercise (though who knows?A lot of former exercise haters do), but you will learn to love what exercise does for you.I also want to say a word about why I believe you should begin incorporating physical activity into your life even before you attempt to cut calories.I really have to warm them up to the idea of establishing a fitness routine first.This is not just me being an exercise kind of guy trying to convert everyone to my way of thinking.There are solid reasons for diving into exercise before you begin fiddling with your food intake.For one thing, most people have greater long-term success when they begin with exercise, and there are several reasons why.Generally, when you eat fewer calories, your body reacts by slowing down your metabolism to preserve body fat, a defense mechanism that helped your ancestors avoid starvation and is still programmed into your DNA today.Exercise, on the other hand, boosts your metabolism by increasing production of enzymes that allow you to process more oxygen.Exercising might make you a little hungrier, but, on balance, between the calories you burn while working out and the spike to your metabolism, your workouts will nudge you into a calorie deficit.Interestingly, some research shows that while people who exercise do report an increased appetite, they seem to be satisfied with less food at mealtimes.Consider, too, that exercise preserves muscle, while cutting calories alone can cause muscle loss.Exercise also boosts your mood and gives you more energy, two things that go a long way toward helping you confront the challenge of making changes on the food front.Have you ever noticed that, before they reach the age where they become mesmerized by PlayStations and computer games, most kids move nonstop?But even if we did, I think I would have opted to be doing something active.I loved any kind of physical activity--especially outdoor activity.My parents always had to hunt me down when dinnertime rolled around because I was out somewhere riding a bike or kicking a ball, trying to wring out every last minute of daylight before I had to go in for the night.Because I naturally gravitated toward exercise, I easily made the transition into more structured forms of activity like organized sports and phys ed class.In that way, I was lucky.

When I speak to groups of people, I often ask them, "How many of you had a bad experience in PE class?" Generally, about half of the audience raises their hands--and those are just the ones who admit it.When I think back on my own school days, I can see that, while I might have been having fun, the seeds of exercise aversion were being sown all around me.Whenever my classmates and I were dividing up into teams to play a game like kickball, I was the kid fortunate enough to be picked early on.But then as the selection process went on, I would watch uncomfortably as some of my nonathletic friends stood there fidgeting uneasily, waiting to learn their fate.I knew they were praying, Just let me be picked second to last, not last, because being last, of course, was the ultimate humiliation.These were the same kids who, to their mortification, could not perform more than a single push-up or lap around the track.It was tough on them.The funny thing was that while PE was one thing, recess was another.These same kids who recoiled from sports and took such an emotional beating in gym class would run and jump, play tag, and just generally horse around in a very active way during recess.As we become adults, we have a lot going against us when it comes to physical activity.Elevators.Escalators.Email.People who want to walk in these new neighborhoods have to take their chances with traffic in the street.No wonder so many drive everywhere instead.As a result, because so few of us are physically active in the course of everyday living, exercise becomes even more uncomfortable than it might be otherwise.Still, even with all that going against you, you can relearn to like moving your body or, at the very least, be able to tolerate grinding it out.When I said earlier that our bodies are meant to move, I meant that literally.But we are also genetically programmed to rest when we can, and in this modern life, we can rest our bodies pretty much any time we want.As a result, exercise is uncomfortable.There needs to be in order for physical activity to have any payoff.All those benefits of exercise--the positive changes to the heart and lungs, the increase in aerobic enzymes, the strengthening of muscle and bone, the production of brain chemicals that improve mood--occur only when the body encounters physical stress and, yes, feels some discomfort.For real health and weight loss benefits, you need to raise your heart rate to appropriate levels and push some weights around.The good news is that your physical tolerance for exercise will improve with time.Just like your taste buds adapt when you switch to 1 percent milk after a lifetime of the full-fat version, your body adapts to physical activity, which makes it easier to move.

Look at exercise the same way.You may even deny emotional pain of any kind.It was disheartening.That same insecurity is likely to cause you to shrug off compliments or accolades.A compliment may rest briefly in your heart and in your head.Watch carefully and see what happens.Keep up the great work!Simultaneously, that focus serves as a safety shield that diverts attention away from you.You keep others very distant from knowing anything too intimate about you.It helps you avoid pain.After all, if you received a deep, warm hug, or someone noticed the shadows under your eyes, it might ruffle the veil that guards your perfect facade.If you pretend that you have no immediate needs, that your role in life is to give and rarely to receive, then the loneliness of not being noticed or loved well can be ignored.At least for a while.An exercise log works in much the same way as a diary, which is why I recommend that you keep one.It also helps you stay honest.The Lifestyle Log in appendix 1 will get you started.It also has room for other information that can help you pinpoint barriers that might get in the way of accomplishing your fitness goals.For instance, there is a "Sleep" column that allows you to note how many hours you sleep per night.This log also has a "Food and Drink" column.Your exercise log serves a couple of other purposes.The log can help you keep that in mind.Couples who smile together tend to stay together and report higher satisfaction in their relationships.Find smiles everywhere, even in everyday objects -- like buildings or in the froth of your latte.It will make you aware of your own positivity.The health benefits of smiling include increasing mood-enhancing hormones (such as endorphins and oxytocin), reducing stress-inducing hormones (such as cortisol) and lowering blood pressure.