What is it with joining a gym and immediately feeling like you’ve lost weight? It’s as if you’ve already accomplished something, as you merely hand over your money to guy in a tacky logo-engraved polo and khaki’s who gladly exchanges your credit card with a plastic bag full of cheap gym giveaways that he’ll call “goodies”. You haven’t even had a workout yet and already you feel thinner, as if just being within the gym’s annoyingly multi-colored walls has magically sucked the weight right off. There it goes – I think it’s osmosis. It’s got to be. At least that’s how I rationalize it. Magic walls I tell ya.

I joined LA Fitness again this past weekend and I went through that exact series of events – even going so far as to convince myself that all I really needed that glorious day of joining was a simple 30 minute (or less) workout, since just signing myself up was enough strenuous exercise for one day. I mean come on, I’m only human.

The simple fact is: working out takes discipline. And I’m not talking army boot camp discipline – but a discipline introduced within your daily routine, to make it part of an expected (and therefore theoretically less dreaded) portion of your day. But I do think the key to instilling this kind of discipline in your psyche is actually pretty simple. And I’ll share that trick with all of you, since we’re such good friends already. Right? RIGHT?!

I’ll take that as a yes. Ok, so all the magic lies in…drumroll please…two photos. Yup, you read that correctly. Just two simple photos. Keep these bad boys always handy and in places where you’ll be sure to see them and it’s all the motivation you’ll need.

Granted, these photos aren’t just any old shots, they’re extra-spicy-with-a-side-of-cajun-fries special – and here’s why: one of them is a photo of you at your absolute thinnest, most attractive state; and you know what I’m talking about here. There’s that one shot of you where the camera was positioned just right, the lighting ever-so-flattering and the smile on your face gleaming with the confidence of that glorious moment. The other is of someone (usually a celebrity) who you wish you looked like. Your doppelgänger that you know in an alternate universe, you’d actually be if the stars were aligned just right and God was in a good mood (mine is Mila Kunis). I know what most of you are thinking now – how could I succumb to the mainstream media’s blatant exploitation of what society considers “beautiful”? How could I support the portrayals of thinness found in Cosmo and Vogue, turning against the militantly righteous movement of “love me for who I am! I’m beautiful as-is!” ?

Here’s how campers: because my two-photo technique actually works.

Keeping that kind of motivation directly in front of me is the only way I can light a fire hot enough under my Kardashianian bum to actually stick with getting in the kind of shape that I know will ultimately make me happy (and inch closer to wearing that same confident smile that’s smeared all over my face in photo No.1). It’s funny how the couch and that bag of chips can call your name ever-so-gently, begging for you to make yourself comfy, turn on some Jersey Shore and chillax your way to that alluring pot belly that makes all the fellas swoon. But alas, those two photos scream out to you, “Do you really want to look like Snooki?! Get up and get fit, you lazy slacker!” You can’t help but jump up, grab your gym bag and head towards a workout. It’s kind of like eyeing that extra piece of pizza at a party but the sheer embarrassment of being “that guy/girl” who goes for seconds deters you from snagging that scrumptious slice. Sigh. Pizza. That sounds good right about now. But I digress.

So, photos = great motivation. Scale = not as much. But even though that damned thing isn’t quite budging yet, I can definitely tell there’s a difference with the way clothes fit. So for me, the photos are equating to a win. I’m convinced they’re more effective than any coach or private trainer…granted, they wouldn’t hurt either, especially if they were easy on the eyes.

A side note: I can tell that the photos are doing their job when I go into an audition (I am an actor – I will cover this in a separate entry, as there is much material to share on this remarkably unpredictable, intricate and non-sensical industry) and I notice that the camera is a cold-hearted, wretched bastard; adding on what I will consider ‘imaginary weight’ to my petite frame. I read for a juicy reoccurring role on General Hospital, where I needed to be a very fit cop, battling the streets and her own demons. My photos were pinned up neatly on my mental bulletin board and I felt pretty confident as I walked in, having worked out so much in the past week. But I’ll be damned if that lowdown camera didn’t decide to add-on some LBs just to make me suffer. Ah, well. I laughed it off, did my work, and walked out thinking: photos, I’m counting on you.

Naturally upon returning home and glancing at those two pieces of guiding light, I grabbed my bag, jetted towards the gym, and rocked a spinning class workout like I haven’t done in a good while. Thanks for putting me back in the game, coach(es).

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