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"Starting Jan. 1, I am going to eat right, exercise regularly, and lose this weight once and for all." Sound familiar? Shedding pounds is consistently at the top of New Year's resolution lists, but come February, those good intentions often wane, and old habits return. How can you keep this from happening to you?

First, check that your fitness goals and eating plan are realistic. Remind yourself how long it took to gain the weight, and be patient as you slowly make lifestyle changes that will eventually help you improve your health and reach your weight loss goal.

Next, use these 10 tips to help you stay motivated all year long:

1. Make conscious decisions. If you really want another piece of candy or a big piece of pie, justify it. Eat smaller portions of other foods (except for the low-calorie, filling ones like vegetables) to save calories for the treats you crave; or spend a little more time working out. Remember this simple equation: Eating more calories than you burn equals weight gain.

2. Keep portions in check. Studies have shown that the more you are served, the more you will eat. Serve yourself small portions of rich, high-calorie foods, and large portions of healthy foods like vegetables, salads, and broth-based soups.

3. Write down your reasons. According to the International Food Information Council, most people believe they know what they need to do to be healthier, but are not doing it. The reasons? Lack of motivation, competing priorities, and time restraints. It's important to find the inspiration you need to help you take concrete steps to improve your health. Do you want to live a longer, healthier life? Or maybe you simply want to fit back into your favorite jeans. Write down whatever motivates you, and keep it close at hand to help inspire you toward success.

4. Believe in yourself. Expect to be successful. In order to succeed, you must believe in your ability to control what you eat and how often you exercise. When the going gets tough, seek the support of a dieting buddy, other friends, or family. A positive attitude and an enthusiastic approach to a healthful lifestyle set you up for success.

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