Be Your Most Confident Self--Inside and Out

Easy ways to love your body, reach your goals, and feel happier every single day.

Love Your Body

1. Show off, in style.

Lost weight but need to drop a few more pounds? It makes sense to wait until you reach your goal to buy a whole new wardrobe, but do invest in a few fabulous pieces that fit you right now. When your clothes fit well, your progress starts to show--and that has the power to foster self-confidence and keep you motivated to continue working out and eating healthy.

2. See your good side.

Instead of zeroing in on your trouble zones when you look in the mirror, consciously shift your attention to body parts you may rarely think about--like your beautiful eyebrows, mouth, shoulders and hands. Then take a minute to describe them--out loud--in positive terms. This helps you get a more complete picture of your attributes and gives your body image an instant boost.

3. Stop watching the workout clock.

When you're using any cardio machine (treadmill, bike, elliptical trainer), put a towel over the display screen so you can concentrate on how exercise makes you feel terrific rather than on how long you've been working out or on how many miles you've got left. You'll have a better appreciation for what your body can do if you're not caught up in the numbers.

4. Find realistic role models.

Ask women you know for real-life advice on coping with stress, losing weight and juggling work and family. Seeing what helps the people around you will give you ideas for simple strategies that can also work for you.

Be Happy

5. Set simple, but doable, priorities.

Attempting to accomplish everything perfectly is impossible--and leads to a sense of failure and unhappiness. Instead, trim your to-do list so you can focus your efforts on the things that are most important to you today.

6. Strike the right balance.

Too busy trying to be a good friend, spouse, mother, daughter, neighbor and employee that you neglect your own needs? Put your well-being first by doing something for you--even if that means just getting a manicure to pamper yourself--at least once a week.

7. Give your life meaning.

Sound lofty? Maybe not. Research at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro found that people who have a sense of purpose are much happier in the long run. To create a vision of what's meaningful to you, ask yourself what excites you and what goals matter most.

Build Confidence

8. Recognize the good things going on in your life.

And tell others about your positive experiences. People will be drawn to your enthusiasm, which can boost your self-esteem.

9. Don't let envy sidetrack you.

Best friend land a promotion? Got a workout buddy who lost more weight than you? Instead of comparing yourself to others, concentrate on what you want to accomplish. Have you made improvements since last year? Are you taking steps to get to where you want to go? Write down your accomplishments--you may be surprised by how they really stack up.

10. Share your thoughts!

Don't be afraid to speak up if you've got an opinion. The more you stand up for your views, the more others will see you as self-assured--and that translates to feeling better about yourself.

Reach Your Goals

11. Seek support.

Whether you want to drop 10 pounds, eat healthier or quit smoking, share your goals with friends, family and co-workers so they can cheer you on through the tough times.

12. Put it in writing.

Solidify your plans by jotting them down in a journal. Keep regular notes on your progress so you can determine which approaches work--and which ones don't.

13. Make sleep a priority.

Lack of sleep long term can lead to health problems: A study from Columbia University in New York City found sleeping five hours or less increases your odds of developing high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart attacks. Sleep debt can also lead to weight gain. Cut back on caffeine six hours before bed and do something relaxing like taking a bath or reading to ensure you drift off to sleep quickly.

14. Find fitness-minded friends.

Meeting people who value a healthy lifestyle can have a positive influence on you. Find them by taking a workout class, joining a sports team or signing up for a fitness-minded hobby.

15. Hang in there.

Everyone slips up now and then on the way to a goal. Challenges are a normal part of life; remind yourself of that--and keep going.

16. Celebrate your triumphs.

Reward yourself whenever you reach a milestone, no matter how big or small. You'll reinforce your new, healthy behavior, which can help you stick with it for life.

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