The most important health and fitness step you can take is learning peace . Wondering what I mean? Take a quick inventory of your thoughts. As you are reading this, are you replaying some event from earlier today? Was it unpleasant? Can you change it? If not, then visualize letting that ugliness slip away and out of your life.

Think about your shoulders. Are they hunched and tense? You don’t really need that tension, do you? Stretch. Shrug your shoulders. Realize when you start doing this to yourself. Pay attention to the times when you’re on autopilot, on your commute or when you’re falling asleep at night. If your thoughts are biting themselves in the tail and can’t stop, tell them firmly that this is your mind, and chase them out.

Worrying about something you possibly can solve ? By all means, turn it over in your mind and see if it looks any different than it did earlier. But not for too long, or it’s stuckness too. Do you hear a little voice telling you that you’ll never get that bikini body, or jeering when your diet makes you so crazy that you go out and get a gallon of ice cream?

Stop. Take a deep breath. What you say to yourself matters very much, on a deep and primal level. Recognize it for what it is, a distorted echo that will lead you astray if you believe it.

This kind of despair can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Worse, it will actually make you sick if you listen. Stress and unhappiness can increase your blood pressure and depress your immune function. That’s not how to win the Miss America pageant. Or even just reach your fitness goals. Unhealthy patterns will only make it harder to become the radiant example of womanhood you were always meant to be. Happiness increases with your level of fitness. Studies show that being happy and active can stabilize your health, and correlates with a positive outlook on life. So any time you feel stressed, try throwing on your cutest ZweetSport gear and hitting up a Bikram yoga class to unwind and recapture your peace of mind instead of wallowing in negativity.

But just because you’re already in good health and living a good life, don’t assume that you don’t still have a frightened child deep down inside. Catch yourself when you have just eaten something unquestionably not good for you . Why did you do that? Don’t berate yourself – just replay the moment. Were you feeling deprived? Rebelling against a parent that never lets you have any fun? Maybe the parent part of your mind should give the kid a break. Part of the reason nutrition habits can be difficult to break is that we learned them in childhood. Don’t let your inner parent tell you what a loser you are. The part of you that is a child wants to please.

So offer yourself strawberries. Pistachios. Cherry tomatoes. Pay attention to what goes in your mouth, and also what comes out. DingDongs are not nutrients. Have one occasionally if it will keep you from running out to 7-11, but why do you want to? Do you even like Ding Dongs? Ok then.

Show your child a better reward — tangy kiwi quarters. Sweet tangerines. Don’t drag yourself to the gym. Go swimming, or hiking, or even just walking. Move your body, and love doing it. Find out how much fun fitness can be. And stop telling people that you are trying to lose weight. Unhunch your shoulders, smile, and tell them how much fun it is to get back into shape. Teach yourself good nutrition by learning how good it tastes.

Make Health & Fitness a way of Life!