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If you’re planning on working out this week for the first time in months, maybe years,  please do me a favor.

Go easy on yourself.

I’m not saying you should skip that quick run on the treadmill or cancel that weight-training session. I’m talking about the silent, mental messages people give to themselves when they exercise.

When you see yourself in the mirror during a group exercise class, please don’t get mad at yourself because you gained a few pounds over the holidays. Would you turn to a friend and say: “Hey, I notice you need to lose 10 pounds.”

No, you wouldn’t.

So why would it be alright to say that to yourself?

Consider this: if you berate yourself about losing weight every time you work out, how does that encourage you to continue exercising?

We need to support our own efforts.

The next time you walk through those doors at the gym, try this mental exercise by telling yourself:  “Look how great I’m doing at the gym. This is the third time I’ve worked out this week. I am on a roll!”

Alice Warchol is a freelance health writer and fitness instructor.

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