Create a life preserver to achiever your fitness goals

So you decided to make end-of-year changes lose weight, get to the gym, cut back on the booze, etc. and January isn’t even over yet and you already feel yourself slipping back into old, negative patterns.

Well, help is on the way.

There is a proven method for staying on track, reorienting to your intention, keeping yourself focused on a positive outcome. It’s called visualization. And while it may not work for everyone what does? it works for a lot of people. And you might be one of them.

Create a life preserver. That’s the visualization exercise suggested by author Charles Platkin, in his timely new book called “Breaking the Pattern” (Red Mill Press, 2002). Platkin sorted through years of research in behavior modification, goal planning and achievement in order to answer the age-old question: Is change possible?

His answer mine too is that change is possible, but NOT through sheer force of will. Instead, your focus should be on creating specific plans, detailed and achievable goals, with all kinds of written backup plans to get you past early hurdles.

Visualization as a motivator. And that’s where visualization comes in. Platkin says that to avoid losing sight of your goals, you should keep yourself motivated by playing out a little scene in your head that reinforces your intention.

Say, for instance, that your intention is to develop a stronger, leaner body in 2002. Platkin would have you imagine what it would feel like, look like and sound like for you to be in that stronger, leaner body the next time you ran into your ex-spouse at the mall. (His example, not mine.)

“Think of every detail of these future moments,” says Platkin, “and reflect on these ‘Life Preservers’ to help you get through the tough times or when you feel like you’re losing sight of your goals.”

Call it visualization. Call it a daydream. It’s worth a try. But you have to give it some time.

Visualize daily. Get relaxed, get quiet, get in your head and visualize where you want to go, and how you want to look and feel when you get there.

Marilynn Preston welcomes your questions and comments about fitness, nutrition, etc. Write to her in care of Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1400, Chicago, Ill. 60611, or send electronic mail to While she cannot respond individually, she will answer questions of general interest in her column.

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