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5 Reasons to Toss Out Your Skinny Jeans

A reality check on body image and weight loss for teens.

3. You'll take control of your body. continued...

"The reality is if you try to change too many things, the chances are you're going to fail, and then you're not going to try at all," says Stephanie Walsh, MD, a pediatrician at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. "You can't change your whole life at once, but you can change one small part of it," Walsh says.

You have the power to decide what that first step will be. You can decide to cut out soda Monday through Friday. Or if you watch six hours of TV a day, you can choose to trim it down to two.

"That's a step for you," says Walsh. "Ask yourself: What are changes I can make that fit into my life now?"

4. You don't have to rush to fit into this year's fashion.

We've all gotten used to convenience and speed. But pursuing a healthy, active lifestyle is not an instant change, like getting a haircut. "Everybody thinks, 'If I do all of these things, it'll be better really fast,'" Walsh says. "It's still going to take time. It's a matter of being patient with yourself."

If you go on a crash diet to get into a pair of jeans by a certain date, you won't be building healthy eating habits, so you're likely to give up and gain back the weight. If your goal instead is to get healthier and reach a healthy weight for you, you're more likely to stick with it.

So give it time and commit to doable short-term goals, such as walking three times a week or cutting out junk food for a week. If you set attainable goals, you're more likely to achieve them -- and that will fuel future successes.

5. You'll feel better.

You'll actually be happier if your goal is to eat healthy and exercise regularly, not to starve yourself to fit into a skimpy outfit. "You will feel better physically," Tiongson says. "You'll have more stamina, more strength. Your mood will be better. It's about feeling good from the inside out, rather than the outside in."

What made the biggest difference for Ashley was joining a program in California at a Wellspring Academy, which emphasizes health and long-term weight loss. In six months, she lost 48 pounds and went from being one of the least motivated students to one of the most active. She just signed up for a 10K and is now training for a half-marathon.

"You should do it not for other people, but for yourself," she says, "so you can see a change in yourself and be able to have confidence. I feel really happy now, and I'm comfortable with my body."

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Reviewed on January 05, 2012

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