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The Christmas Gift

Friday, December 24, 2010

I received a Christmas story in the mail today that I want to share with you.

The Christmas Gift

A man named Paul received an automobile from his brother as a Christmas present. When Paul came out of his office on Christmas Eve, a ragged looking little boy was walking around the shiny car as he admired it.

"Is this your car, Mister?" he asked. Paul nodded. "My brother gave it to me for Christmas."

The boy was astounded. "You mean your brother gave it to you and it cost you nothing? Boy, I wish......"....he hesitated.

Of course Paul knew what he was going to wish for. He was going to wish he had a brother like that. But what the lad said jarred Paul all the way down to his heels.

"I wish," the boy went on, "I could be a brother like that."

Paul looked at the boy in astonishment, then impulsively, he added, "Would you like to take a ride in my automobile?"

"Oh yes, I'd love that."

After a short ride, the boy turned and with his eyes aglow said, "Mister, would you mind driving in front of my house?"

Paul smiled a little, he thought he knew what the lad wanted. He wanted to show his neighbors he could ride home in a big automobile. But Paul was wrong again.

"Will you stop where those two steps are?" the boy asked. He ran up the steps and in a little while Paul saw him coming back, but he was coming very slowly because he was carrying his little crippled brother. He sat him down on the bottom step, then sort of squeezed up against him and pointed to the car.

"There she is, Buddy, just like I told you upstairs. His brother gave it to him for Christmas and it didn't cost him a cent. Some day I"m goinna give you one just like it. Then you can see for yourself all the pretty things in the Christmas windows I've been trying to tell you about."

Paul got out and lifted the lad to the front seat of his car. The older brother climbed in beside him and the three of them began a memorable holiday ride.

That Christmas Eve, Paul learned what Jesus meant when He said, "It's more blessed to give than to receive." ~Author Unknown

I pray that you and your family have a most wonderful Christmas!
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MCSNYDER1 12/25/2010 10:30AM

    Precious story, Nancy!

Merry Christmas!

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LINDABENEDICT 12/25/2010 2:12AM

    Thank you for the gift of this story ...I am in tears ! Merry Christmas !

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ALLBW2U 12/25/2010 1:34AM

    Very wonderful story, Nancy. Truly a blessing to all of us....and so is the story. :-)

I hope that you have a very merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.

All my best always....Bill

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FRAN0426 12/24/2010 11:34PM

    So much better to give than receive . Today we found out about a family that lost everything in a fire just recently. The one blessing in this tragedy is that the entire family escaped in the middle of the night. My SIL authorized his staff yo donate decorations for the family, as they wanted to try and have a normal Christmas for their Children. Then we gathered some things from SIL and DD home, packaged up Christmas baking, donated money and SIL and GD brought them down to the store to give to the church members getting all the donations together. My GD even donated some of her books for the children on her own. The thing is how sad we were for the family, but how great we felt getting all this done in a short time, and hoping it helped a family have a little more than they had a few days ago.

Comment edited on: 12/24/2010 11:39:22 PM

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IUHRYTR 12/24/2010 10:46PM

    Tis truly better to give. -- Lou

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LUCKYDOGFARM 12/24/2010 8:27PM

    Very Sweet!

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How bright is your Spark shining? Quiz from KIMMAS82

Thursday, December 23, 2010

How bright is your Spark shining? Take this quiz to find out!!
(Thanks, CREATINGAMANDA for sharing this quiz from KIMMAS82)

1) You woke up a little late this morning. So you,
a) Skip breakfast. You just DONíT have time for it today. Plus youíll save a few calories.
b) Grab a quick protein bar. Something is better than nothing, right?
c) Take a few minutes to fit in a balanced nutritious breakfast. Itís important!

*** C ***

2) You get to work and realize that itís Treat Day. You,
a) Reach for the DONUTS!!! Who can pass up a Chocolate Covered Bavarian Cream??
b) Go halfsieís on a donut with your BFF. Just a taste!
c) Grab nothing. You had a great filling breakfast at home and brought all of your own snacks for the day!!

*** A, if you'd have said ANYTHING other than Chocolate Covered Bavarian Cream, I could have resisted! ***

3) Lunchtime is near and you feel yourself getting hungry. What line do you get in??
a) The GRILL!!! Pizza, pizza, pizza! All that dripping cheese. . . NOM NOM NOM!!
b) The classics! A nice balanced, comfort food meal like mom used to make. Including the veggies.
c) The Deli! You opt for a veggie filled salad with grilled chicken and a light dressing accompanied by a whole grain roll. The perfect amount of protein, carbs and fat!!

*** C *** (Always my go-to meal!)

4) Youíre feeling sluggish and oh so tired after work. The best way for you to regroup and de-stress is to:
a) Go home and cuddle up on the couch with your remote and popcorn and VEG OUT!!
b) Opt for a relaxing night in kitchen making a good healthy meal.
c) Hit the gym (or the road) and work it out hard!!! You know youíll feel better after you start moving!

*** C, but I'm answering hypothetically. As long as I've been on Spark, I've been a part-time student who also works full-time. So no matter how tired, evenings were either spent in class, or doing homework. My schedule is much lighter next semester. I hope that "C" will be my answer - I want "C" to be my answer when I'm not in class or doing homework. I work out in the morning, so taking an evening walk/run will be a bonus! ***

5) Your mouth is dry and you NEED hydration!! Whatís your go-to drink??
a) SODA!! Is there anything better than a ice cold Diet Coke?
b) Green tea. It has all the caffeine youíre looking for with some added health benefits too!!
c) Water! You know water is important and make sure to get in your daily requirements!!

*** C, it's about the only thing I drink. ***

6) Itís time for bed but you have so much to do!! You decide to,
a) Stay up late and get it all done. You can sleep when youíre dead.
b) Give yourself a little while longer before you hit the hay.
c) Go to bed! You know youíll be more productive tomorrow if you get your sleep!!

*** A, see answer to #4 above. Too much homework over the last 2 years. Stayed up into the wee hours to complete it. ***

7) Itís winter, itís cold, itís dark and itís late. You just donít want to get off that comfy, warm couch to take the dog for a walk. You decide to,
a) Skip the walk for today. Tomorrow will be nicer and youíll both enjoy it more then.
b) Take the dog out for just 10 minutes!! Youíll both benefit from it and youíll be back in the warmth before you know it.
c) Get hyped and get out!! Youíll both be so happy you went out for 30 minutes. No excuses can stop you from treating yourself and your pet right!!

*** C ***

8) Itís a busy weekend, you,
a) Ignore Spark People. Youíll get back there on Monday.
b) Log on real quick to get your log in points. Youíre determined to continue that streak!!
c) You log on and spend a few minutes logging, tracking, commenting and blogging. It will keep you connected to your healthy lifestyle for the entire day!!

*** C, I'm a Spark addict! ***

If you answered mostly Aís:
Your flame is running out of fuel. Time to take a look at your decisions and get back to the basics!!

If you answered mostly Bís:
Youíve been Sparked!! You are WELL on your way!! Youíre making better choices and learning what works for you!

If you answered mostly Cís:
Youíre Spark is shining BRIGHT!! You know what you need to do to be, get and stay healthy!!! And. . . YOU DO IT!!!

*** It was a close contest between B and C for me, but the C's take the gold! ***

* Disclaimer: This is just for fun!! This is not a meant to be a real determination on how well you are doing on your journey. This is based solely on where I've been, where I am and where I hope to be! I got inspired by my daughter's teeny-bopper magazine quiz last night apparently and woke up with this in my head!! KIMMAS82

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RJ-CYCLES 12/24/2010 4:57PM

    1 - c
2 - c
3 - d (not on quiz, my own lunch I packed the day prior)
4 - 40% b, 60% c
5 - c (but today I had my first natural soda in 4 months)
6 - lately 60% b, 40% c
7 - c
8 - c

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MSANITAL 12/24/2010 2:24PM

    This was cute I got mostly C's and of course I log on to spark on the weekends that is when I need you guys the most

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TEENY_BIKINI 12/23/2010 7:34PM

    cool quiz.

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LUCKYDOGFARM 12/23/2010 7:14PM

    more than torn on a few of those questions, especially the Bavarian Cream!! goods ones are few and far between! emoticon

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CMERLE1 12/23/2010 2:07PM

    1. C.
2. C.
3. B.
4. A.
5. B.
6. C.
7. B.
8. C.

It was a toss-up but I got mostly C's also. So I guess I'm a sparking fool lol emoticon

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Self-efficacy -- a belief in oneself

Monday, December 06, 2010

CREATINGAMANDA asked this question at the end of her blog this morning - "What are some of the things you have learned about leading a healthier life?"

As often happens for me, I got rather lengthy in my response, so decided to keep my thoughts brief on Amanda's page and post my thoughts here.

I've learned that I need to build self-efficacy in order to reach my health goals. (Self-efficacy is a belief that one is capable of acting a certain way to achieve certain goals). If I'm constantly berating myself with negative self-talk, it's very difficult to succeed at the smallest goals. Making small goals first, and reaching them, helps to build self-efficacy. When I'm successful in the small goals, I have more belief that I can accomplish larger goals.

When I thought it was impossible to break the 150 barrier, one of my co-captains challenged me to lose 1 pound -- just 1 pound. Todd told me that he believed that I could do it. He doesn't know it, but when he told me that he believed in me, I cried. (I'm tearing up as I write this, for pete's sake!)
So, I lost 1 pound and took a picture of the scale to prove that I did it! And then I went on to lose 3 more pounds and am now 1 pound away from my goal weight of 145. My college weight was 140 - a weight I never thought I'd see again (there goes that negative self-talk). But, because Todd believed that I could lose 1 pound, just 1 little pound, I now believe that I can - and will - reach my goal of getting back to my college weight. Thank you for believeing in me, Todd.
Todd's expression of belief in me was so helpful in building my own belief. There's a saying, "Let us love you until you can love yourself." I'd like to add, "Let us believe in you until you can believe in yourself."

Do you have someone in your life who believes in you? If not, find a Spark team that will believe in and encourage you. There are so many good teams out there. Or ask me about the Making it Happen team. I'd love to help you build your self-efficacy. Everyone of my team mates are awesome at encouraging and belief-building. I love them as if they were my own family -- heck maybe even more than if they were my own family! Sometimes, it takes a village to accomplish our goals.
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JMHARDING 1/28/2011 6:04PM

  Just joined - am reading your blogs - just moved from Colorado and your pic reminds me how much I miss it. Use to do alot of walking through woods and rock collecting. Have gained another 20 lbs since leaving. Obese and lonely for familiarity. I am enjoying your blogs. emoticon

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LINDABENEDICT 12/25/2010 2:14AM

    emoticon Great blog !

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15MINUTES 12/21/2010 9:55AM

    Baby steps--baby goals--one pound at a time. Celebrate--for you have done wonderful things!


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    Wow, I really am glad I went back and read this blog! What a powerful blog! Yes, my husband believes in me, and I am fairly certain that our kids do, too. They help me to remember my value, and I love that they do that for me! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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GETFITTER7 12/11/2010 1:13PM

    I bet you had it in you all the time...but I am happy that you have found the motivation from TODD. You are a inspiration to me. Keep up the great work!

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ALLBW2U 12/7/2010 1:45AM

    Oh, Nancy.

I love your blog. But it is SO wrong. SO wrong on so many levels. You have not lost a have gained a "ton of friends." And I count myself as fortunate to have met you here on SparkPeople and to be one of those friends.

You are awesome, my friend. And your blog further proves it!!

Best wishes always.....Bill

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FRAN0426 12/6/2010 10:54PM

    Thanks for sharing this amzing well worded blog. We all need to be reminded at times that we must believe in ourselves and thank goodness for wonderful spark friends who believe in one in other.

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FLBEACHBUM14 12/6/2010 9:00PM

    Along with the leaders of a Spark team, some of the members jump in and embrace unconditional support to other teammates that helps keep the team alive and more of the members interested and engaged. Nancy, you are one of those members who help the team be more like a family than a team. Thank you for your blogs and for the encouragement and support you ALWAYS show your friends and teammates!

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MSANITAL 12/6/2010 8:26PM

    Nancy.. your blog shows that you come along way.. and that is so motavating....your support helps all of us I cannot tell you how much you are valued Thank you and thanks to all members of the team..

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YATMAMA 12/6/2010 7:48PM

    What a great gift to give one another, faith in each other!!

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IAMWINNING 12/6/2010 6:24PM

    Thank you for this blog (and thanks to Todd too!)

I'm trying to maintain my weight thru Christmas (from Nov 1), and am now 2 lbs heavier than Nov 1 - BUT! I went on a trip last month and gained a couple lbs and have lost them, so I'm confident that I can re-lose those other 2 pounds. I'm already succesful because I'm uppping my fruit/veggie steps, y'all.

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IUHRYTR 12/6/2010 4:53PM

    Sometimes people's self-esteem is so low that they can never understand why someone would believe in them. So happy for that you did. When we break our long-term goal into small bits, it is easier to be successful and each successful step increases our belief in ourselves that we can go all the way. emoticon -- Lou

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LUCKYDOGFARM 12/6/2010 1:24PM

    Amen, Sister!

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TODDJAMES 12/6/2010 1:01PM


I DO BELIEVE in YOU! But you ALWAYS had the just needed someone to remind you did!

I know you are a SMART woman! You will take this month to maintain...because to expect MORE THAN THAT COULD set you up for failure...

Then you will hit 2011 with gusto and BEAT the COLLEGE weight! You are SMARTER than you were then...why not look better too?

And when you do...I will be THE FIRST to cheer and remind you...YOU HAD THE POWER THE WHOLE TIME...all you had to do was BELIEVE!


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CARLA0716 12/6/2010 1:01PM


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MCSNYDER1 12/6/2010 12:43PM

    Nancy! Todd is also the one who believes in me!!! And MIH is THE spark team for support, challenges, and love! I am so proud to be a member of that team with Todd and YOU!

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BURKEBRIZ 12/6/2010 12:41PM

    Totally agree! It does take a village! Thanks for being part of my village!!

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    EXCELLENT BLOG! Thank you for sharing this! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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ASHLEYROXX 12/6/2010 12:31PM

    I'm happy for you that you have someone in your "corner" who believes in you!! We can be our own worst critics, too...I know this is a major problem for me too.

Keep it up!! You're motivating others....whether you know it or not!!

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"8 Lessons from 'The Biggest Loser'" article explains why Spark Teams work

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Some of my team mates, and me too, are Biggest Loser fans. I found this article this morning in the "motivation" section and thought I'd post it to make sure my team mates saw it.

This article, and the Biggest Loser program, explain why teams work - and I will extend that to why Spark Teams work! If you are not on a Spark Team, consider getting involved in one. Choose a team that fits your interests, or your location, or your age group, or your life situation. You get the idea - people that you can bond with.

I am a member of the greatest Spark Team around (IMHO). It's called "Making it Happen." It's a private team that you can be invited to. If you are not active on a team, or you're not getting the support you need from your team, ask me about "Making it Happen." We inspire, cajole, encourage, and generally harass (with much love!) each other into action and accountability.

Everyone doesn't want accountability, but I need it. I need you, my team mates, to call me out when I'm isolating. I am only as sick as my secrets, so being accountable to my team mates keeps me honest about what I'm eating - and about what's eating me. I love my team mates as much as I love my blood relatives, maybe even more than my blood relatives! (Did I write that? That was an inside thought!)

This journey is not meant to be done in isolation. Together we CAN do what we cannot do alone! Wishing you the best Team experience ever! As one of my fearless leaders posted the other day --
T = Together
E = Everyone
A = Achieves
M = More

Team = Together Everyone Achieves More!
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TEENY_BIKINI 11/24/2010 9:03PM

    Go team! Let's do this.


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LOPEYP 11/12/2010 2:41PM

    How true! That's why SP is so great! emoticon

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DARINGR8LY 11/12/2010 1:30PM

    Love it. You are so right. We can do this...together!

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FLBEACHBUM14 11/11/2010 8:59PM

    I also sincerely believe that teams are the answer to staying motivated and accountable to yourself as well as others. It would be so easy now that I am at my goal weight to slack off and quit all the fitness activities- that is what I always did in the past. Of course that starts the yo-yo cycle on the upward swing again. I am also blessed to be a part of our favorite team as well as to be your SparkFriend!
(since I am catching up now, I also liked your previous blog)

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MCSNYDER1 11/10/2010 9:53PM

We are indeed blessed to be a part of MIH!!!

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RJ-CYCLES 11/10/2010 9:15PM

    We do have the greatest team!!

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TODDJAMES 11/10/2010 4:01PM

    Just don't tell Jillian...she believes TEAM is everyone doing what SHE SAYS!

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1HOTMAMA2BE 11/10/2010 1:58PM

    Oh, so true. Exercise and eating clean is so much easier with SparkFriends with the same goals. SparkFriends turn into the dearest of friends, too! XOXO emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BNBLYNNE 11/10/2010 1:33PM

    WE us that TEAM at work, we have it posted throughout the office

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GOSPELCLOWN 11/10/2010 1:23PM

    I like the part about the brain needing to be focused on the goal. It isn't all about the mouth and doing more sit ups!

Together everyone achieves more!!! YAAAAH

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LESLIES537 11/10/2010 1:14PM

    Great blog! There's no "I" in TEAM! emoticon

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IUHRYTR 11/10/2010 1:09PM

    I get a lot of encouragement from my SP friends and teammates, especially when I'm down a bit or want to be lazy. We all need someone to encourage us and if not a real person in our lives then our Internet friends, but someone. Like you! Thanks for the post. -- Lou

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LITTLEFARMMOMMA 11/10/2010 12:46PM

    emoticon emoticon

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BOBBIENORTHERN 11/10/2010 12:45PM

    Good and excellent blog, thanks so much for sharing. I am one of those that I belong to 13 teams and connect to each and everyone of them. My Lord Jesus expects me to be transparent with all that I come into contact with. We are supposed to walk in love with one another and to love all others as we love ourselves. But, the main person that i hold myself accountable to is my Savior and Lord Jesus. We are all created unique and different. So, what may work for one will not work for another. What ever gets the job done just so long as it is the right thing and done the right and correct way with no cheating or other devious worldly ways of achieving so called success. Jesus is the only person that knows me from the inside out and He uses other people to help me. He uses people to hselp pseople. I think what I am saying is Jesus is my focus. thanks for sharing and have a marvelous day in gettifng the job one day closer to goal. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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Are false beliefs and negative self-talk keeping you from losing weight?

Monday, November 08, 2010

I know that we arenít supposed to copy and paste entire articles, but the link to this article on the Psychology Today website doesnít work anymore, and you canít access the archives without a library database. Iím posting the entire article because it explains how false beliefs and negative self-talk may be far greater enemies to weight loss than excess food or lack of exercise.

Is Your Head Tripping You Up?

Publication: Psychology Today, 1 Volume 37, 1/2004
Author: Dennis Brabham

Americans are highly motivated to lose weight -- as a growing list of best-selling books and highly trafficked dieting Web sites attest. We're just not approaching it the right way. The pressure we put on ourselves to succeed -- and the self-criticism we indulge in when we fall short of the mark -- can have dire emotional and dietary repercussions.

Consider that pair of jeans hanging reproachfully in the closet. You realize they don't fit, and you feel unattractive and worthless. This tendency to evaluate yourself too harshly will only make you give up altogether. You want to head to the fridge for solace.

You need to identify the things you're telling yourself that cause you to feel discouraged and to throw in the towel. Don't beat yourself up when you overeat. Accept that you acted in a self-defeating way, then establish better methods to meet your goal. Review what you'd like to do and work toward that goal. Perhaps you're not (yet) berating yourself for failures, but putting inordinate pressure on yourself to succeed. When you tell yourself, "I must lose 25 pounds by Valentine's Day, or I'll never get a date," you're setting yourself up for emotional turmoil, as well as weight-loss failure. Losing weight in a prescribed amount of time is a worthy goal, but the perfectionistic premise that sneaks into your thinking may well interfere with sensible eating and exercise.

In a perfect universe, the sight of those jeans, or the knowledge that Valentine's Day is around the corner, would elicit rational thoughts like, "I'm going to look great soon, and I'm going to enjoy the challenge of eating sensibly and exercising along the way." But few of us think that.

Psychology Today spoke with Nando Pelusi and Mitchell Robin, clinical psychologists in New York City, about what we really tell ourselves, sabotaging our own best efforts to lose weight -- or meet any goal.

I must be thin: This creates desperation, which undermines a healthy long-range approach to sensible eating. Also, perfectionism pervades this thinking (I must not only be thin, but also perfect).

I must eat until sated: Early humans lived in an environment in which food resources were scarce. While our ancestors had to hunt down squirrels and eat them, we can supersize a Whopper meal and skip the workout.

I need immediate results: The demand for immediate improvement undermines commitment to a long-term goal. Quick fixes are hard to pass up: "This cupcake will make me feel good right now." We think, why bother eating healthfully, when the reward is far off? Dieting requires present-moment frustration and self-denial with little immediate reward.

I need comfort: People eat to avoid feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety. Fatty and sugary food provides immediate comfort and distraction from other issues. Resolving some of these problems may help you overcome poor eating habits.

I feel awful: "It's terrible being heavy." For some, being overweight is the worst thing imaginable; it can immobilize you and leave you dumbstruck. That's a reaction more suited to tragedy. Weight loss is best achieved without that end-of-the-world outlook.

It's intolerable to stick to a diet: "It's just too hard to diet. "This thinking renders you helpless. People who are easily frustrated want easy solutions. We're seduced by fad diets because they appeal to that immediacy. Yet people who rely on fads suffer high failure rates. When you diet with the short term in mind, you don't learn strategies that require patience and persistence.

I am no good: "Because I am having trouble in this one area I am worthless." Being overweight can be viewed as a sign of weakness or worthlessness, and most people aren't motivated when they feel that way. Another form of worthlessness: "My worth is dependent on my looks." This idea confuses beauty with thinness, a concept played out endlessly in the media.

Get Moving
Now that you've thrown out your irrational thinking, a little motivation is key to change. But how do you make that leap? Psychologist and marathon runner Michael Gilewski has found that the brain can achieve a state of habitual behavior through small successes -- turning a once extraordinary effort into mere routine.

"Even when someone climbs Mount Everest, it's usually not his first time climbing," he points out. Perhaps motivation may simply be the product of positive reinforcement and repeated success.

Psychology Today asked five expert motivators -- including an active-duty drill sergeant and a rock-climbing instructor -- how they rally everyone from first-time dieters to hard-core soldiers.

Inspiration from Within
Deborah Low is a certified weight management and lifestyle consultant in Vancouver, British Columbia.

"We have an all-or-nothing attitude: If we don't do our full hour at the gym, we may as well sit around and eat junk food. If you feel guilty and punish yourself, you may eat 10 cookies instead of 2. If you criticize yourself, you'll never change.

"Motivation is something we get from other people; but inspiration swells within us. Thinking 'I'll lose weight and then I'll be happy' is not enough. If we respect and love ourselves, independent of our weight, it's easier to make healthy choices.

"We struggle because we're fixated on the end result. We force ourselves to go to the gym, restrict food, measure and weigh ourselves. You let that number on the scale determine how your day's going to go. I ask clients to remember what it was like to play as a kid. You ran around, climbed on things -- your goal was not to lose weight, it was to have fun. Being active gave you a sense of freedom, excitement and amazement. You have to reconnect with that emotion."

Being a Team Player
Chris Broadway instructs an Outward Bound outdoor classroom on Hurricane Island, off the coast of Maine.

"I set the tone of team spirit in the beginning; I teach one person a skill, and his or her responsibility is to teach everyone else. We let the students make their own mistakes. We expect students to have problems, as the activities we construct are a challenge.

Discouragement can occur, but we celebrate accomplishments. Students set their own level of achievement. Some have a focus on the end result, but not everyone is results-oriented. Some want to measure success by relationships they form, by the process itself.

"Another motivating factor is how their experience here connects to their lives. We create situations where there are actual risks and perceived risks, as in sailing. We let the group navigate ahead of a storm, deciding when to pull back and when to move forward. We show them how to apply these situations to their own businesses or personal lives -- calculate the risk, know when to take it or when to step back.

"It's so much more powerful when another student steps up to deliver the message of leadership. As instructors, we're always building their tool kit so they have the means to do that. With a group of 12, it's difficult to hide in the background. Even if someone's in a slump, he or she absolutely needs to fill a role."

Savor Every Mountain
John Joline is a climbing instructor at Dartmouth College.

"Certain kinds of teaching are done from below -- telling people what to do but being removed from the activity. I try to teach from above -- I climb with my students, participating fully in the activity. I make my enthusiasm infectious.

"Even a climb well within your physical limits -- if you strive to climb it beautifully -- can be challenging and rewarding. Our culture puts emphasis on goals, on absolutes. We're taught to believe competition should be ferocious. But if we lose that sense of fun, of delight, all the haranguing in the world from an instructor won't give a student lasting motivation. The bottom line is to savor the movement, the physical sensation of moving up the rock and over the stone. That itself becomes a reward compelling enough to keep one involved.

"For someone in his or her mid-30s or older, climbing is still seen as a potentially dangerous sport, daring and terrifying. It's a mental construct that can be inhibiting. Plus, for white-collar workers, running hands and fingers over rough rock could be shocking to the system."

Coming Home Alive
Billie Jo Miranda is a U.S. Army drill sergeant in Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

"The goal is being prepared for war and coming home alive. The [desire to] drop out occurs in the first few weeks. Once they learn they have a comfort zone, get along and trust people, we're pretty much over the hump. We motivate through example; we do it next to, in front of and behind them. We tailor training around the weakest soldier. It may not be beneficial for the soldier who was a college athlete, but everybody is part of a team, they push each other.

"There will be those who do the minimum. Today's youth are Nintendo children. Training requires them to get out of bed and walk an extra mile. The more rigor you put into training, the more a soldier knows what he can accomplish in combat. They shouldn't enjoy training. It should hurt physically and mentally. And they hate it. But we want them to enjoy the accomplishment.

"If you have heart, you have the motivation and the desire to get through anything. It's a patriotic thought process: What we're doing is for the betterment of America. When they say, 'I don't want to do this anymore,' just give me 10 minutes with a soldier and she'll do a 180. We use their being volunteers as a motivational tool: 'Soldier, I didn't ask you to come here. You obviously joined the military for a reason, you wanted to do something for your country.'"

Think Like a Thermostat
Peter Catina is a professor of exercise physiology at Pennsylvania State University.
"Most elite athletes are already at the top of their sport, and to reach the next level is a challenge. But it's difficult to sustain your level when you're at your pinnacle -- novice or expert. Everyone must have both physical and mental discipline.

"Self-regulation is key; you can make it simple by being your own monitor. You have to think like a thermostat -- be able to detect a discrepancy between the environment and your internal standard. It's the difference between your current state and where your mind and body would like to be. You can then adjust -- raise your standards to meet your expectations -- through strategy and action. Some of us are born with high self-regulatory skills, but I can identify clients who lack the know-how and I teach them. Awareness is the first step: noting how many calories you've consumed, how effective your exercise is, how frequently and intensely you've exercised.

"Aerobics is no longer the panacea for losing weight. It's the change in body composition that makes you look better, and for that, strength training is more effective. Don't constantly weigh yourself, since muscle weighs more than fat. Instead, measure your body mass index -- or even your waist -- and only once every four to six weeks. I've had many female clients gain five pounds but go down three dress sizes."

Writer and trainer Dennis Brabham is based in Tuckahoe, New York.
Additional reporting by Melissa Hantman and William Whitney.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BOBF15 11/9/2010 5:32PM

    Great read... we must weigh or be the ideal weight subconsciously first and then the physical will match the mental.

It is always mind over matter. emoticon

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TODDJAMES 11/9/2010 3:53PM

    Nancy...thanks for know I am a SPONGE over this stuff!

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2THEFUTURE28 11/9/2010 7:54AM

    Thanks for this it made things more clear for me. Its like they studied me first and wrote the article. I have beat myself up and have that all-or-nothing attitude. Thanks for sharing!

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HEALTHDUDE 11/8/2010 9:27PM

    Thanks for sharing.


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MISSY0356 11/8/2010 7:46PM

    So much of our success or failure has to do with attitude. I have lost and gained the same 20 lbs several times in my life and the one constant was as soon as people would tell me I looked good I would self sabotage and put it all back on. I think this time as I get closer to my goal it will be for good. I have a new attitude and a new out look. Thanks for sharing the article And remain "aware" emoticon

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LINDALEE14 11/8/2010 6:15PM

    This is a wonderful article! Thank you so much for sharing it.

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BAPSANN 11/8/2010 5:25PM

  I keep telling myself, I can not lost the 20 pounds I so desperately want to lose, negative self talk, how to I get past that so that I can move forward in this plan. I also keep blaming menopause for gaining the weight.

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IUHRYTR 11/8/2010 3:07PM

    It all comes down to fewer calories taken in than expended. -- Lou

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