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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.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.Changing something as deeply rooted as your eating habits requires dedication, determination, and planning.For the planning part of the equation, try this goal-setting worksheet, the same one you used in the previous chapter.Water (your mainstay, comprising at least 80 percent of your beverage intake).Sparkling water (plain, or if flavored, no sweeteners, including artificial sweeteners).Water or sparkling water with a splash (no more than 2 tablespoons) of fruit juice.Unsweetened iced tea.Unsweetened iced tea with a splash (about 2 tablespoons) of fruit juice.Coffee with a splash of 1 percent or fat-free milk, or black.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.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.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.Here are a couple of things to consider.You also have to cut calories.When you begin exercising, your body plays a little bit of a trick on you.One way it responds to increased activity is by upping the amount of glycogen it stores in the muscles.The storage of glycogen, which is a type of fuel made from the carbohydrates you eat, requires approximately 2.5 to 3 grams of water per gram of glycogen.Most likely they will feel looser, and that is a good indication that the exercise is working.What, though, are the results you are hoping for?That is something you should seriously consider.Is it simply the numbers on the scale that matter to you?It may be that your arms and legs are stronger and more sculpted.Most regular exercisers have more energy, are less irritable, sleep better, and have brighter, healthier-looking skin.Another mark of progress is increased strength and endurance.Are you able to lift heavier weights than when you first began strength training?Can you last longer in your cardio workouts?Are you able to set the treadmill to a steeper slope or increase the resistance on other cardio machines?Can you walk twice as fast or as far as before?These are all signs that you are, in fact, getting results.Fatigue can become a vicious cycle.

You're too tired to exercise, so you don't move much--which makes you even more tired.Plus, when you don't get physical activity, you miss out on its sleep-enhancing benefit, and that too can keep you in a state of low energy.Go to your calm space with your journal.For this reflection, you're going to draw a set of nested circles, the first one fairly small, the second a little larger, the third largest of all.The smallest one will end in the center.Now draw dots on those circles representing significant people in your life.Your inner circle, people who are closest to you, are found in the smallest circle.Write their names by the dots that represent them.Be brutally honest.The next circle represents a lesser sense of connection, and the outer even less.Yet be sure that you list individuals who have some importance to you.You'll be referring back to this reflection, so be as thorough as possible.After doing this exercise, journal about how it felt to distinguish who's in your inner circle and who isn't.You might also write about any circles you'd like to create that don't exist at the moment.The more we care for others, the greater our own sense of well-being.Think about the happiest people you know -- do they give more than they take, or take more than they give?We place great importance on filling our brains with knowledge.We should put as much care into filling our hearts with compassion.The meaning of life is to find your gift.The purpose of life is to give it away.At the beginning and end of our lives we are so dependent on the kindness of others.Don't forget to be kind towards others in the middle.Giving the smallest of gifts can result in a surprisingly long-lasting change in happiness for the giver.A thoughtful, homemade or inexpensive gift could be one of the best investments you ever make.Because selfless acts make you feel happy, any act of altruism is its own reward.