Fit Is the New Thin focuses on your appearance: how you look is the driving force in your fitness and health goals as opposed to the scale. The first step is to ignore your scale and embrace your mirror. Consider your body shape, fullness and muscle definition. You determine where you want to be physically, mentally and spiritually and move forward based on your personal agenda as opposed to the extreme appearance of Madison Avenue ultra slim models or bodybuilders on the cover of "max muscle" magazines. So turn off those preconceived notions of fitness and health and get started with an honest look at yourself.

You will need a notebook, pen, full length mirror and a hand mirror for your "first" look. Stand in front of the mirror, naked and without any make-up. That's right, naked. Remember this is an honest look at your body. Be sure to leave your glasses on, though! Use the hand mirror to see yourself from the side and back. This is the time to be honest about your appearance.

Begin with a posture check. Are your shoulders and hips level? Does your head rotate to one side or another or is it tilted to the side? Do your feet and knees turn in or out? Are your shoulders rounded forward? From the side, your ear should be directly above your shoulder, the shoulder is over the center of the hip and the hip is slightly forward of the ankle. There should be a gentle curve in the upper back and the low back should slightly arch forward.

Next, look at your body proportions. What body parts do you need to accentuate and which ones need to be deemphasized? Look closely and determine where you want to go as this will be the starting point for your targeted exercise program. Remember, everyone has a genetic body shape that serves as the template for body shaping, a template that will serve as a framework for the fit body that you will become. For example, if we are wide in the hips and narrow in the shoulders, (the classic pear shape), we need to develop our shoulders and upper body to deemphasize our hips and conversely, if our hips and legs are thin and our upper body is larger, we need to develop the hip and leg regions and lean down the upper. Look for your strong points, too. Take that honest look and set some visual goals. Remember to look at your muscle tone and mass in the calves and back, too.

Remember to look at your skin. Does it have a healthy color and glow? Is your skin tone symmetrical and balanced? Blemishes? Blotches? Dark circles under your eyes? Of course, any areas that appear discolored or irregular that you cannot account for need to be checked by the dermatologist.

Now take out your pad and make two columns on the first page. Title the left hand column Assets and the right hand column Investments. Psychologically, these titles are important because you do have physical assets that will require less effort to change, will help drive you toward your goal and give you the tools to overcome your weaker areas. By calling your weaker area Investments, it reminds you that these areas need the most attention and you will be investing more time, effort and energy to bring them to where you want them to be.

Congratulations! You have taken the first step toward taking charge of your health and fitness goals. Remember, Fit is the New Thin is focused on getting you to look how you want to look, and to ignore the scale and the unrealistic physiques promoted in the media.

The next article will address caloric balance, so in the meantime, keep a diet diary and write down EVERYTHING you eat for the next two weeks. Writing down your food in amounts and time of day is essential to keeping you accountable and necessary to monitor changes. Charting progress can only be done by keeping written records of where we start and is the road map for success. Embracing a wellness lifestyle is simple, but that does not mean it is easy. The effort put in will directly impact your results.