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Picture Yourself

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So, you're standing in front of the mirror and picturing yourself as that Elle McFierceBabe or alternately as the blond guy from Baywatch. And still, Ralph Kramden stares back.

Visualization is a technique best used before the mirror stage. You want to employ it while doing whatever you need to do to get in shape.

Shakti Gawain, author of books such as Creative Visualization and The Creative Visualization Workbook, offers these tips on how to visualize and hopefully realize a better body.

Aerobic Fitness

One component of building a better body involves aerobic activity - a result of which is burning calories and fat. So, how do you take a run for all it's worth?

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"If you're running or jogging or whatever, just imagine yourself running fast and feeling wonderful and your body is filled with energy," says Gawain. "And just imagine it feeling the way you want it to feel. And if you have a certain goal as far as how far you jog or whatever, imagine yourself doing that."

Muscle Toning/Building

Maybe you're lifting weights in your quest for a better body. Should you be picturing Arnold, Jean Claude or that Xena woman?

First off, think about the muscles you want to work. It's too easy to cheat yourself by letting other muscles help out.

"Imagine what's going on in your body while you're doing that, and really imagine the desired results," Gawain advises. "Really pay attention to yourself and to your body while you're doing the exercise. And make it a really positive, self-nurturing time."

She also suggests this: "Often, I notice that people are watching television while they're in the gym or working out," she says. "I would suggest not doing that but really putting attention into what you're doing."

Aerobic Fitness

Since you are what you eat and eating plays a part in how you look, should you picture yourself as a slab of tofu?

Gawain explains one technique he invites people to practice: "Imagine that they're only hungry for the things their body really desires and wants. I find that the more I'm in tune with myself and my body, the more I realize that I'm craving what my body truly wants. But because we have gotten so out of tuch with our bodies we often eat addictively - which means we're craving things that really aren't good for us because we are really trying to satisfy emotional and spiritual needs through food."

Then there's the actual eating itself. Pay attention to what you're doing," Gawain says. "Really tune into the food and how good it tastes, and how good your body feels after you eat something that is really healthy. And take the time to put attention into it, because most of the time when we eat, we're thinking about something else."

"Really, the truth is, when we eat, it's kind of a magical thing that's happening: You are taking the energy of that food into your body and converting it into the energy your body needs to be healthy and attractive," Gawain says. "So if you could actually imagine that process: Here is this energy; it's going into every cell of my body. It's bringing me life, energy, and aliveness and vitality, and health and beauty - really thanking the food and appreciating it while you do that."

Written by Rob Medich