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How to keep your weight loss on track

You've made the decision to get healthy and lose weight, to firm up those jiggles and lose the beer belly.  You quit hitting Subway for lunch and started making time for breakfast.  You joined a gym, bought an exercise ball, tried yoga, attempted pilates.  You have lazy days and days where you end up face-first in a pint of Ben & Jerry's but overall you're still plugging away at this health thing.

So now what?  Even if you're still seeing big results, what's the next step?  How do you keep this good thing going for, let's face it - forever?

It is time to develop a healthy skill set, whatever your goals may be - and that takes practice.  Like sports, music or learning another language, consistent work toward improvement with specific goals in mind creates a mindset for success.

Use these tips to build momentum:

1.  Make your surroundings reflect the success you want to achieve.  There is a reason motivational posters are plastered in locker rooms.  Find success stories that inspire you and refer to them often.  Make a 'Vision Collage' that reflects the values you want to keep in mind.  Sure, it might sound hokey at first, but reading a Lance Armstrong quote like, "People ask me what I'm on.  I'll tell you what I'm on.  I'm on my bike busting my ass for six hours a day.  What are you on?" will make it easier to put in the last few minutes on a long workout.  Pick your vision of excellence and put it on display.

2.  Associate yourself with people who are actively pursuing similar goals.  Join a running, walking or biking club.  Sign up for a race.  Check out the bulletin boards at the gym, YMCA, coffee shop.  Use facebook.  Buy a "Runner Girl" or "Life is Good" t-shirt - it is surprising how many people you can meet by sharing your interests in a general way.

3.  Once again, share your intentions with a few people who you know will encourage you and keep you honest.  Give yourself permission to put a few not-so-positive friends on the back burner until you feel more centered in your new reality.

4.  Plan ahead for the bumps and stresses of life with a healthy Plan B.  Keep a small, healthy snack on hand in the car (apples, almonds and granola bars hold up well for a couple of days); pack an extra change of clothes for the gym in the trunk; fill your water bottle and pack your lunch the night before.  Throw away the Ben & Jerry's right now so it isn't a temptation when you've had a terrible day.  (Right now.  Do it.  Now.)  Keep your healthy triggers in sight at all times.  If you put the elliptical machine in front of the TV, it is less likely to become a clothes rack than in the corner.

5.  Enjoy your success.  Do not punish yourself for mistakes or slip-ups.  Success is based on constructive action over time, not perfection every time.  Instead of beating yourself up for a bad day, hit the gym and use the time to think about what caused the issue (like not throwing that Ben & Jerry's away like you should have), create a plan for the next step and move forward.  Break your bad mood by contacting one of your positive people or supporting one of your new buddies.

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