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Experts explain how small steps can help you stay on track to meet your diet and exercise goals.

Find yourself losing interest in exercising and eating a healthy diet? Maybe you were gung ho for a few weeks and then your get-in-shape determination quickly faded -- and you went back to your old, bad health habits.

What if instead of making mega-changes with the all-or-nothing approach to weight loss and good health, you resolve to tackle a few simple changes at a time? Studies show that the health and weight loss habits that have the best chance of lasting are the ones that call for minor, doable changes.

According to Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, a nutrition professor at Penn State University, the key is to take small, positive steps and move ahead consistently. "People need to be realistic about the changes they can achieve."

Consider the following ten motivational tips to help you make small, positive steps each day.

1. Feel Good About Yourself Today

Be sure the people around you make you feel good about you -- no matter what your size or health condition. In addition, if close friends encourage you to smoke, overeat, or drink too much, find some new friends who have good health habits and also want a healthier you.

Elaine Magee, MPH, Rd, author of more than 20 books, says don't get hung up on pounds or what size dress you are wearing.

"Instead, focus on being healthy from the inside out," Magee says. "Eat well, and exercise regularly. And remember that you can be sexy and look and feel fabulous and not be thin."

2. Rethink Your Role Model

Barbie's still the first role model many young girls are drawn to. But let's be honest. For most of us to look like Barbie, we'd have to be nearly 6 feet tall, shrink our waist size by 8 inches, move the excess inches up to our chests, and then pose in the "suck in the gut/high heel" position all the time. Come on! There's a better way to live our lives than pretending.

Select positive role models. Choose role models that help you feel good about who you are, rather than ones who make you feel bad. Find a female role model who is strong, healthy -- and real!

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