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Redefine Your Image: Get the Body You Want

If you don't think you have what it takes to get in shape, you couldn't be more wrong. We're here to tell you it's never too late to change your mind and your body.body image and athleticism

"I'm never going to be in good shape," you tell yourself. "I'm just not athletic. Thin people are a separate species."

If you can't remember the last time you felt good about your body, it's time you changed your thinking. That doesn't mean to start another fad diet or go out and buy the latest butt blaster. It means stop defining yourself by who you were yesterday, and start defining yourself by who you want to become tomorrow. Reinventing your idea of yourself is the first step to becoming the new, healthier you.

We all can be fit, strong, more in control of our bodies and our lives. Fit is not something you are or aren't, it's something you can choose to become.

Exercising and eating right gives you the freedom to feel healthy, happy and comfortable in your own skin. It also gives you the freedom to stop obsessing about food and start enjoying it.

So how do we begin to think of ourselves in a more positive way? How about getting to know the hot-bod crowd for who they really are - humans. They skip workouts, occasionally pig-out on sweets, make excuses not to exercise, and have days when they're disappointed by their bodies just like everyone else. We know because we talked to two people with enviable figures who, through it all, succeed at being fit.

If you think Joan Price, a 56-year-old fitness consultant and author of exercise books including The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Health and Fitness, or Stu Watson, a 50-year-old fitness buff and Myprimetime columnist, never have a bad day or moment of weakness, think again.

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The reality: "I was the kid who hid when the ball came toward me," admits Price. "I hadvarious ways to exercise more passes to get out of PE than any two people I knew." For Price, as for many fit adults, athleticism was not something she embraced from the start. Gym class, her first experience with sports, only reinforced her insecurities and made her feel that she wasn't athletic. "It was all about fitness tests and the same people who always got chosen first for teams," she recalls.

If you think you're not athletic because you weren't the quarter back of the football team or the star field hockey player, you're wrong. There are many different kinds of athleticism. A great walker can have an athletic body without ever picking up a ball or stick. Price discovered her fit self when she discovered dancing. "I think everyone can find something like that that they find a highlight, not a chore."

Thin people don't know what it's like to feel uncomfortable in their bodies.

The reality: Price knows how it feels to be frustrated and disappointed by her body. She is a survivor of two near-fatal automobile accidents (both were the fault of the other driver), the first of which shattered her heel and broke every bone in her face.

After the first accident, Price, then a teacher, decided to dedicate her life to fitness. Sixteen years after the first accident, she was again hit head-on by another car. This time she shattered the shin and ankle of the previously damaged leg. "My first thought was, 'how can I possibly go through this again?' My second thought was, 'well, I just will.' "

Price had to learn to walk a third time. She knows what it's like to be exhausted from a trip to the mailbox. "But you can choose whether to be discouraged because that's all you can do today, or exhilarated because you did more than you could yesterday," she says. 


They never blow off their workouts.

The reality: "The hardest thing for me is that, like many people, I'm a very good procrastinator," confesses Price. "It's so easy to find other things that are 'more important' than exercise at the time. But the thing you have to realize, and what I tell my clients, is that there is nothing more important than keeping yourself healthy." 

On the days she skips her workout, she makes every effort to go dancing that night. Single, Price admits she'd "rather be out swing dancing with men then doing the grape vine with a bunch of women in an aerobics class." Everyone needs to find those one or two activities that they really enjoy: roll around on the floor with your kids, ride a bike or run with your dog. Even better if your activities are social ones.

They think exercise is fun all the time.

The reality: Even fitness fanatics lose their motivation from time to time. But the good news is that exercising is as habit forming as not exercising. "At first you have to mentally drag yourself by the scruff of the neck and out the door," confesses Watson. "But after you get more fit, your body won't let you not work out." Eventually, you need to exercise in order to feel balanced. "If I don't get any activity, I sleep restlessly," he says. "My legs twitch. It's like my body is calling out, `give me what I've come to expect.' " 

They actually think exercise feels good.

The reality: Even when you're fit, exercise doesn't immediately feel good at the start of each workout, admits Price. "It takes five minutes to work my way into it," she says. "The first five minutes I'm doing the "what time is it?" thing."

To get over the initial hump, Price tells her clients the same thing she tells herself: just make the effort to exercise for five minutes and then you can stop. "Of course, then they won't want to."

They get to feel good about the way they look all the time.

The reality: "I'm amazed at how quickly [my body is] aging, despite my best intentions," admits Price. "I'm surprised by the wrinkles. I'm fighting to maintain the fitness level that I have had over the years."

While Price gets frustrated like everyone else, she doesn't let it get in the way of progress. Her motto: "Pretty good for a 56-year-old, huh?" That's part of what keeps her motivated. "The other part is never forgetting for a minute about those two automobile accidents," she adds.

They never eat junk food.

The reality: "I eat pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches - I also eat fruit and vegetables and whole grains," says Watson. While he admits he likes to eat and drink a beer or two, Watson says it's all a matter of give and take. "I work out and it works off the calories." Working out, he adds, "lets you live life more fully." Instead of feeling guilty when you occasionally indulge, when you work out regularly, you feel you have earned it. Imagine food being fun again.

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