In my 20 years as a fitness therapist (and quite a few years as a fat person), I've learned that fighting body hatred is both mental and physical. I created these steps to guide you to a new way of thinking about your body, leading to a joyful acceptance of who you are.
1. Don't deprive yourself.
Treat yourself once a week. If you know that once a week you can pour a bag of M&M's into your happy mouth, this splurge will make it surprisingly easy to eat healthy meals the rest of the week. Step 1 is the end of dieting as you've come to know it.
2. Drink water, drink water, drink water!
Two quarts of noncarbonated water a day works minor miracles.
3. Work out at least ten minutes a day.
Watch how those few moments of exercise change your appearance and your life.
4. Schedule fitness appointments in writing each week.
Commit to this plan as you would a business meeting or a baby's feeding—it's every bit as important.
5. Don't stop eating—stop eating in front of the TV.
Food is a beautiful, glorious part of life, and it deserves your full attention. If you eat while you watch TV, you're not giving it that attention and you're probably overeating.
6. Pick an idol and let that person motivate and inspire you.
Put her picture up in your house or office. When I look at a photo of Madonna's impressive body, it motivates me to get up and take a jog.
7. Breathe consciously for five minutes every day.
Sit somewhere quiet and breathe deeply and slowly, in through the nose, out through the mouth. This is the most simple, effective way to achieve serenity while neutralizing stress.
8. Take 30 minutes of private time each day.
Use this half hour any way you choose. But do it alone and stick to it religiously.
9. Write yourself a love letter once a month.
Address it, mail it, and when it arrives, read it—a compliment from the most important person in your life.
10. Stand up straight and tall.
This is an old New Orleans secret. If you practice what self-confidence looks like, you'll begin to know what it feels like.
Print this article and put it on your refrigerator—quick tips to feeling good!
From the October 2001 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
We Hear You!