09/13/2013 03:20 pm ET Updated Nov 13, 2013

Time for You to Start Modeling

No, I don't mean posing for photographs or walking the catwalk. I mean it's time for you to start acting like those you admire -- in other words, modeling your behavior after the people who are what you want to be.

We tend to modify our behavior according to the people we surround ourselves with. If the people you see around you on a regular basis drink excessive amounts of alcohol, you are likely to do so too. If the people around you are crazy about sports, you will likely start becoming crazy about sports. If your friends and family eat excessive and/or unhealthy foods and don't exercise, then chances are pretty good those will be your habits too.

We model ourselves after people throughout our lives, usually without even realizing it. Of course, the first people we act like are our parents. Then we move on to our older siblings, then our friends -- although our behavior is still heavily influenced by our parents and siblings throughout our lives.

All of this is fine when we are following positive behaviors -- a good work ethic, cleanliness and good organizational abilities, for example. And if we have parents, siblings and friends who eat healthy foods and engage in regular physical activity then we may never have a weight problem.

But for many of us that is not the case. It definitely was not the case for me. My family lived on junk food and simple carbs such as white bread and pasta, and no one got any exercise. Without having any idea I was doing it, I modeled myself after my family members, choosing unhealthy foods and a very sedentary life. It took a very conscious effort for me to model myself after others instead.

You can't choose your family or even change their behaviors. But you can start to become conscious of your own, and in particular how your actions change in response to others'. Once you become conscious of this, you can start choosing whose behavior you follow and whose you do not.

Now, find some people who are like you want to be. These can be celebrities or people you actually know. When I weighed 360 pounds and decided to change my life I wanted to look like the Abercrombie and Fitch models, and so I researched like crazy, finding out what they do, how they eat, how they work out, and I began to model my actions after theirs.

Figure out whose bodies you want yours to be like and find out how they eat and exercise. Learn about their habits. These people might be models, they might be entertainment or sports personalities, or they might be people you know in your life. Learn everything you can about how they stay in shape, and start modeling your behavior after theirs.

You'll find a couple of great things happen when you start to do this. First, of course, is that your body will become more and more like what you want it to be. Then you will find that you no longer have to put a lot of effort into eating and exercising this way; it will become a part of who you are just as it is with the people you're following. You will start automatically surrounding yourself with people who share the same interests and activities as you, which will further reinforce your positive behavior. This doesn't mean you break off your relationships with your old friends and family (although if they are very negative you may choose to do this), but it means more of your time will be spent with people who are more like the new you. Finally, you will be amazed to discover that others are choosing to model their behavior after you, because they want to be like you.

And that is the best feeling ever, to know that you are a positive influence on another person's life.