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GROUP TRAVEL LE ADER T H E " I can and I will." I have uttered that mantra under my breath dozens of times over the past two months. And I'm starting to believe it. If you have been involved in the tourism industry for any length of time, you may have noticed that this line of work comes with some specific occupational hazards. Chief among them is weight gain. With all the wining, dining and dessert sampling that happens on FAM tours and at conferences in our industry, it's all too common for frequent travelers to gain some weight as part of their jobs. After 13 years in travel journalism, I have expe- rienced this danger firsthand — again and again. The force of the Dark Side is strong. Though I try to keep my weight in check and sometimes succeed, my willpower tends to f luctuate between modera - tion and abandon, discipline and indulgence. And my weight f luctuates along with it. Though I am generally healthier than I was 10 years ago, there's a nagging 10 to 15 pounds that likes to sneak up on me throughout the course of a year. I have fallen into something of a cycle: For the first few months of the year, I hunker down and work to shake the weight off. Then I spend the rest of the year gradually packing it back on, knowing that I can always lose it again next year. When I started the now-annual weight loss regi- men in January, I turned to a free online series of workout videos to help me exercise. That's when I met Nicky Holender. Nicky is a professional trainer who works with a lot of celebrities and professional athletes in Los Angeles, and he's also the host of the "Stronger" workout series that you can find on YouTube or www.livestrong.com. His personality is more charming than intimidating, and his favorite motiva- tional catchphrase is "I can and I will." Nicky's videos have been kicking my butt every morning for eight weeks now, and the results of these workouts have been really pleasing. But what has surprised me most is the power of that catchphrase. In the middle of a very difficult move, when I feel my willpower slipping and my muscles about to fail, I begin to repeat that mantra to myself. And somehow, this extra bit of motivation gets me to the end of the routine. I'm usually skeptical of motivational tricks, but I've come to believe that the power of focus and self-confidence embodied in "I can and I will" can help push us to places we never thought we would get on our own. And it's not just about exercise. Am I facing a huge mountain of work that I don't think I'll be able to complete? "I can and I will." Am I struggling to find the creativity necessary to tackle my next big project? "I can and I will." Have I become weary of smiling, shaking hands and meeting new people at professional events? "I can and I will." The things we get to do in the tourism industry are a ton of fun, but they also involve a ton of work. That work can sometimes be exhausting. The challenges can be overwhelming, and sometimes a series of setbacks can make us want to quit altogether. But if you're passionate about something, quitting is not an option. Even if I fall into bad habits again and gain all the weight back, this is the one lesson I've learned from Nicky that will always stick with me. I can and I will. Can you? B Y B R I A N J E W E L L EDITOR'S T H E V mark