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You can go through all the motions of a fit lifestyle — regular exercise, eating nutritionally — but if your head isn’t in the game and you lack the self-confidence to succeed, you’ll be destined to backslide. To build confidence, Gary Miller, PhD, associate professor of health and exercise science at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., suggests eliciting the support of friends and family to remind you daily that you are capable of maintaining fitness over time.

For the crash dieter or intermittent exerciser, setbacks like vacations or the holidays can be devastating. But if fitness becomes your lifestyle — something you practice at least five days per week, habitually — you can easily weather bumps in the road and quickly get back on track without significant consequences, he says.

Making Fitness Your Lifestyle

Sarah Aarssen, a 31-year-old American living in Amsterdam, believed for many years that she could never achieve lasting fitness and weight loss. But the advent of blogging gave her an idea — if she could track her progress online, post photos and journal entries, and elicit the support of friends and family back in the United States, perhaps she could make some lasting changes. When Aarssen started her blog ( in July 2006, she weighed more than 300 pounds and rarely exercised beyond walking. She soon worked up to doing cardio and weight training three days a week. After several weeks, her routine became habitual, and within a year, she says fitness and eating healthfully had become her lifestyle.

The more confident she became, the more she shared her blog with acquaintances, and it gained a following. Aarssen now has dozens of regular readers tracking her progress. “I know my readers are expecting to hear from me, no matter if I lost or if I gained,” she explains. “It’s always in the back of my head when I am at the gym or planning a meal that if I slack off, my readers will know.”

In exchange, she says her readers constantly congratulate and encourage her in her journey. “It’s like having a whole cheerleading team on my side,” she says. So far, Aarssen has lost more than 70 pounds and hopes to lose 30 more. She hopes that her success will encourage others to take the first step down a path to a more healthy way of life.


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