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Reel dieting -- Losing weight at the movies

How can films motivate, inspire and encourage us to achieve our goals? "The process of film helps to suspend belief. Viewers trust that what they're seeing is true, and, in turn, think they can do it, too," says Gary Solomon, author of "Reel Therapy." Because viewers can relate to the characters, they are able to identify and potentially start to work through issues of their own. In fact, movies are being used in therapy to help people improve their lives -- it's called Cinematherapy or Reel Therapy. Here are a few films to help kick-start your next diet.

Moving movies

These films have the power to get you moving.

Rocky (1976): Talk about training -- this movie can have you up at 5 a.m. running sprints and eating nothing but protein.

Breaking Away (1979): Makes you want to get out there and start biking.

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Chariots of Fire (1981): A great movie about more than running.

Flashdance (1983): The training and dancing in this movie are intense. 

; G.I. Jane (1997): I loved Demi Moore in this film about the first woman to go for Navy SEAL training. The training scenes are intense enough to get the most comfortable couch potato off his or her duff.

Watching others transform their bodies can motivate you to change your own.

Irreconcilable Differences (1984): Shelly Long's character is miserable after her divorce, and the scenes of her getting back in shape are motivating. Revenge can be a powerful catalyst. 

; Ruthless People (1986): Includes wonderful, inspirational and very funny scenes of Bette Midler losing weight and getting in shape while being held hostage.

She-Devil (1989): Roseanne Barr's character goes through a transformation after finding out that her husband cheated.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991): Just look at how Linda Hamilton (playing Sarah Connor) transforms her body from what it was in "The Terminator."

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Diet not only trouble

According to Solomon, alcohol and drug films can be better examples of the problems faced by many dieters than showing actual dieting problems. When the issues aren't so "close to home" it can be easier to see our own issues, suggests Solomon. He mentions a few to start with, including: Days of Wine and Roses (1962), Clean and Sober (1988) and When a Man Loves a Woman (1994).

Tomorrow We Diet! (1951): An animated film in which Goofy goes on a diet.

Fatso (1980): This extremely funny comedy starring Dom DeLuise as a bachelor trying to lose pounds works as a good reminder that crash dieting just doesn't work.

Requiem for a Dream (2000): The sad depiction of a woman who fails at dieting and becomes addicted to diet pills.

Love On A Diet (2001): Avoid this comedy from Hong Kong if you're sensitive to politically incorrect fat jokes. However, the stars go from fat to skinny, which could be inspirational. 

; Super Size Me (2004): The documentary shows what happens when you eat nothing but unhealthy fast food.

Lbs (2004): In this official selection of the Sundance Film Festival, a more than 300-pound, 27-year-old man deals with food addiction and loses weight after he has a heart attack.

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Overcoming obstacles

According to Solomon, overcoming great obstacles helps people feel as if they're in control. In other words, if those people in the movie can overcome, so can I. 

; The Guns of Navarone (1961): A great war movie in which the lead characters are faced with an impossible mission.

Rudy (1993): Rudy is a young man who wants desperately to play on the Notre Dame football team but is too small.

Radio (2003): The story of a young man who inspires a football team and an entire community.

Movies can give a person confidence, and believing in oneself is among the core ingredients of a successful weight-control program.

Bridget Jones's Diary (2001): Bridget Jones is a single British woman who is overweight, smokes and drinks too much, but manages to overcome it all and find love.

Finding Nemo (2003): An animated story about a clownfish, Nemo, who is lost in the ocean and finds not only his way home, but also courage and confidence.

Charles Stuart Platkin is a syndicated health, nutrition and fitness columnist and founder of iWellness Solutions. He can be reached at info@dietdetective.com.

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