Be Your Own Best Inspiration

No one knows how far you've come better than you do. Here's how to use your past to fuel your future success.
Don't Forget How Far You've Come

The best way to move forward and meet the goals you set for yourself? Keep one eye looking back. It may sound counterintuitive, but remembering where we came from is an important part of committing to an active, healthy life.

And those thoughts are even more important when the attention our weight-loss garnered begins to fade and the compliments stop coming. As you (and others!) begin to accept your new shape as same-old, that's when it becomes tempting to slip into old habits.

"When you're no longer focusing on how important this is to you, that's when you might start to get sloppy about portions," says Jackie Raha, manager of group services development for Weight Watchers, who remembers clearly the moment, years ago, that she couldn't bend over to tie her sneakers. "I see great value in recalling the pain of carrying that extra weight."

Ronda Gates, author of The Scale Companion, adds, "I can't celebrate the great successes in my life unless I also appreciate the failures and what I've learned from them."

Try using the following as reminders of your own journey:

  • Keep an old photo of yourself at your top weight. Stash it in a secret place, such as a pocket in your purse that's easy to access.

  • Keep a pair of your "heavy" pants. Display them in a part of your closet that you always see.

  • At least once a week, admire your cheekbones, vibrant eyes, and elegant chin. Tell yourself how good you look and how much better your smile shines without the extra baggage.

  • Celebrate the anniversary of reaching your goal weight. Treat it like you would any other anniversary or birthday. Take that day and pamper yourself with a treat for another healthy year.

  • Keep a journal of small successes. Log such accomplishments as, "I walked up two flights of stairs to the movie theater instead of taking the escalator," or "I got an idea for a flower garden while riding my bike through the neighborhood today."

  • Identify your supporters and your saboteurs. "Don't hang out with people who drain you," says Gates.

  • Ask for feedback. And when you receive compliments, treat them as an opportunity to graciously accept the positive commentary and commit it to memory, so you can mentally call upon that warmth when you need it later.

"Nothing is finer than seeing someone I haven't seen in years, who gasps and says, 'You look wonderful. Did you lose weight?'' Gates says. "And I can respond, 'Yes, and I learned how to experience the joy life has to offer me. I found my spirit. I am blessed. Thanks for noticing.'"

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