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I spend my days helping models get in (and stay in) shape.

That may sound sort of specific, but working with them actually gives me an inside perspective on the pressure—for women in general—to meet certain beauty standards.

As we know, the fashion industry idealizes beauty, youth and impossibly slender physiques. Not only does this place immense strain on the young working models to maintain ideal measurements, it also impacts the women reading the magazines where the models are featured. Studies have shown that readers can feel inadequate if they don’t live up to that narrow definition of beauty.

I have seen firsthand the problems that may arise when working models try to lose weight by unhealthy means. There are no shortcuts. Drastically cutting calories and overexercising are not sustainable longterm and will inevitably backfire, leading to injuries, binging and even weight gain. Self-esteem issues can fester and, in more severe cases, people can develop full-blown eating disorders.

No matter whether you’re a model or not, the only way to lose weight and sustain weight loss longterm is through a healthy diet and exercise. Maybe it sounds cliché, but it’s true. It’s a matter of actually shifting a way of thinking: Instead of starving and punishing the body, fuel it with healthy food and truly enjoyable regular exercise. It’s all about a positive lifestyle change. That means nourishing the body every few hours throughout the day with protein-rich, healthy meals and snacks, cutting down on sugar, saturated and trans fats and finding healthy recipes for foods that you love.

If your budget allows, it is helpful to hire a trainer with experience in this area, who can show you how to get started on an exercise program. If money is a concern, however, many commercial gyms offer a complimentary training session when joining or group classes led by fitness instructors. But the most important thing is finding activities that you enjoy because you are much more likely to exercise regularly in the longterm that way.

Weight loss should and can be achieved if you treat your body with love and respect. Your new physique will just be a reflection of that healthy lifestyle change.

Read more about making healthy change stick:

Resolving To Change

Liking Your Lifestyle Changes

Coming Clean

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