Happy October! October 1, 2007 marks the first day of the last quarter of 2007. The first day of the next quarter is a holiday and our old friend for setting a resolution to lose weight – New Year’s Day.

The New Year is just three months away, but these next three months are the undoing of more weight loss goals and programs than any other during the year. Even worse, the repercussions and difficulty of going again often last far, far into the next year. Sometimes we never do recover from losing our footing at the end of the year.

NewYear iStock SkipODonnell The New Year doesn’t have to herald the end of life as you know it. Photo iStockphoto.com/Skip ODonnell.

Face it: For more than a month, Halloween candy has been quietly and stealthily filling the shelves of stores. Lurking in the shadows and waiting to prey upon us are our own fattening holiday recipes, traditions and an arsenal of new magazines, articles and TV ads with tempting foods that destroy healthy intentions.

It’s enough to weaken the strongest among us.

TODAY’S QUOTE: “Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire; you will what you imagine; and at last you create what you will.” (George Bernard Shaw)

Several weeks ago in Gospel Doctrine, I sat next to my friend and visiting teacher. As the teacher led us to the exhortations in Thessalonians to be faithful, steadfast and strengthen each other, she and I quietly laughed at the quaint counsel to “comfort the feebleminded” (I Thess. 5:14).

“Thanks for being there for me!” we jokingly whispered to each other, thinking it referred to a lack of mental faculties A quick check at the reference, however, tells us that feebleminded means faint-hearted and despondent, not simple-minded.

Suddenly it wasn’t quaint at all! I thought of all of us who struggle year round with our weight and decided that “feeble minded” aptly defines us, especially during the next 12-week challenge. We need all the comfort and support we can find. Our best resource is to create it ourselves with our Heavenly Father’s help. Today’s mental exercise will do just that. It doesn’t cost a cent and we can do it as often as necessary in a minute or less.

As a weight loss lecturer, my members would come to the meeting the first week of October and find me all dressed up in a fancy, beaded New Year’s outfit, with Christmas music playing. It all lead up to a New Year’s Eve visualization exercise that I’ve written out for you now. It works, too! Over the years, many have come to me in January and reported their success, expressing gratitude for the exercise and the anchoring of a small party balloon that is part of today’s assignment.

Here goes:

Close your eyes and offer a thanksgiving prayer of gratitude for your wonderful, miraculous, loving and forgiving body that serves you night and day. Then vividly imagine New Year’s Eve. Hear the “Auld Lang Syne playing and the happy chatter of those you love most around you. It’s nearly midnight.

Consciously tell your body to relax, and then let your mind wander and reflect on the past year. As you relax, you’re marveling that you’ve lost 5 to 10 (or more) pounds since the first of October!

With pleasure you are delighted to know that smaller clothes fit better than ever. Your skin, eyes and hair are glowing with health. With pride and self-confidence, you review how you did it and are thrilled to realize it’s an eating style you greatly enjoy and can easily continue into the New Year.

It’s obvious to all that your attitude and actions have created a dynamic, healthy, personal environment for losing weight and gaining health. Their expressions are another boost of self-confidence and increase the importance of your success and choices.

With joy, you recognize that each day from September through December was embraced on its own as a new opportunity to eat the right foods, in the right amounts and for the right reason. Although Halloween candy, Thanksgiving and Christmas foods were present as always, you’ve learned to manage yourself and become the poster child for “Nothing Tastes As Good As Thin Feels!”

As the clock strikes 12, you realize that 2008 will be successful and healthy too! The weight you’ve lost in 2007 is an important stepping stone to your health and relationship with Heavenly Father, yourself and others. For the first time in your life, you understand that losing weight will not solve all life’s problems or make you a different person, but it is truly one less thing to literally weigh you down. Quietly say to yourself, “My health is first rate in 2008!” – and celebrate, for life is good.

Well, bring on the autumn months and the holidays. We’re ready! Nobody’s going to look, feel and be healthier on New Year’s Eve than we! As an added bonus, just imagine how wonderful it will be to replace that old resolution to lose weight with something exciting and new!

Today’s Empowerment: “It’s New Year’s Eve! I’m so proud of my healthy choices through the Fall. Look at me! My health’s first rate in 2008!”

Today’s Journal Prompts/Discussion Starters/Assignments:

  1. Write down your goal for New Year’s Eve. Whether it is a specific and realistic amount to lose, or habits that you have honored, define what you want to achieve.
  2. Print this article out, then clip out the visualization. Put it by your bed and use it while you are both drifting off to sleep and waking up. This will anchor this image in your subconscious and greatly magnify its importance in your food and health choices.
  3. Put a balloon or party horn where you will see it often , (like a kitchen shelf or by your bed) to remind yourself that New Year’s Eve will arrive on schedule and you’re going to be healthier and lighter (in body and spirit) than you’ve been in a long, long time.

Today’s Recipe: Favorite Fish ‘n Chips

Remember the old “Shake ‘n Bake” commercials with the kid saying “It’s Shake ‘n Bake – and I helped”? Well, here’s our own easy, healthy version. Make your own tartar sauce with a bit of fat-free mayo, some pickle relish and a tiny squirt of mustard.

Favorite Fish ‘n Chips
(4 Servings at 240 calories)

2 large baking potatoes, scrubbed and cut lengthwise into 16 spears each
2 Tbsp. Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
4 (4-oz.) cod fillets

1. Preheat oven to 425. Spray potatoes with Pam. Place in a large zip-close plastic bag with 1 Tbsp. of the Old Bay. Seal the bag and shake to coat.

Transfer to a large baking sheet lined with foil and lightly sprayed with baking spray.

2. In the same plastic bag, combine cornmeal and remaining Old Bay; shake to mix. Spray the fillets with baking spray and shake in bag to coat. Place in a single layer on the baking sheet
with the potatoes.

3. Bake until the fish is golden brown and flakes easily and the potato spears are fork-tender, about 25 minutes.

(3 g Dietary Fiber; 240 Calories; 1 g Fat; 33 g Carb)