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No Willpower? No Problem.

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How many Mondays have you dedicated to the pursuit of weight loss or physical fitness, and everything works just fine until Tuesday, when the stresses of the day send you headlong into a pint of your favourite stress reliever: the chocolate mint chip ice cream in your freezer, for example? And how many times has that indulgence mark.

How many Mondays have you dedicated to the pursuit of weight loss or physical fitness, and everything works just fine until Tuesday, when the stresses of the day send you headlong into a pint of your favourite stress reliever: the chocolate mint chip ice cream in your freezer, for example? And how many times has that indulgence marked the end of your attempt to improve your health?

There is no doubt about it: change is hard, but with the right attitude, it is possible.

You might think that you've failed to attain your health goals because you lack the elusive "will-power" that seems to come so easily to others. But will-power has very little to do with the choices that you make. We all tend to follow the same paths we have always followed, making the same choices we have always made. And frankly, how can you possibly be expected to make different choices in your life when you don't know and understand all of your options?

Consider Your Options

Experts suggest that we throw out our attachment to will-power and instead focus our energy on developing "skill-power." Reading this magazine is a good first step. Commit to learning about the multitude of options that surround you. If you don't like jogging, don't jog. Try martial arts, dance, or swimming instead.

If you always eat when you are stressed, find out what else you can do to cope with your stresses. Meditation, yoga, and volunteering are activities that have worked for others. Rather than dwelling on the problem area in your life, focus on finding a solution that you enjoy and will be able to incorporate into your life.

Set Goals

Make sure your life plan gets the same attention as other projects that fill your day. How many times have you heard from your human resources department that your goals at work should be specific, manageable, and measurable? Why should your life be any different?

Let's assume that you want to lose some weight, and you have 50 pounds between you and your favourite pair of jeans. Your goal is specific and measurable. Now all you have to do is make it manageable.

Since you didn't gain the weight overnight it's very unlikely that you are going to lose it overnight, so find a manageable goal. Why not aim to lose a pound per week? Now, I can hear the computer in your head quickly calculating that it will take you nearly a year to reach your goal. That might not give you the instant gratification you are looking for, but I'm betting that you're more likely to make it if you tread slowly and reward yourself with a weekly loss of one pound.

Step by Step

Ease into change. Drink one less glass of wine today, or choose fruit over a chocolate bar. You'll slowly start to feel better as you gradually alter your habits, and the way you'll feel will motivate you to continue on your new path.

Most importantly, remember that mistakes are part of the journey, not the end of it. Forgive yourself, and get right back on the path where you left off. You know how to do it. You've got the skills!

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