Every year thousands of Americans make a pledge to get in shape starting in the New Year. Here are 10 things to make sure you reach your goals and get the body you want.

1. Start NOW. Don't wait until the January 1 to start shooting for your goals. You are motivated and willing NOW, it’s the best time to start. 

2. Avoid fad diets. I hate diets; they do not work. Fad diets are all based on the same concept of sticking to one or two types of food. How dull? Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein are your best friend.

3. Make small changes. Trying to cut out your favorite foods and other vices cold turkey leads to resentment. A healthy lifestyle takes time to develop into a habit, just like it will take time to break your unhealthy habits. 

4. The best exercise is the one you will do. This advice comes from Dr. Drew of Celebrity Rehab.  I fully agree. There are no secret exercises that will lean out your abs or flatten out your love handles. Find something you enjoy. Recreational sports, yoga, zomba, cross-fit, powerlifting, hiking biking. Anything that gets you moving for at least an hour a day is good exercise. 

5. Have specific goals. Don't haphazardly do exercise after exercise and diet after diet without any sense of where you are going. Fitness is like a road trip, without a map it becomes very difficult to get to where you want to go. 

6. Give yourself a break. You are going to fall off the wagon from time to time. Its OK, all is not lost, but you have to get back on ASAP. Do not take this as license to constantly skip workouts or eat whatever you would like. Discipline is not a word people like to hear or adhere to, but it will be your saving grace.

7. Find a friend. Working out and eating properly are infinitely easier with a partner. Even if it is an online community like Bodyspace, you need to have someone to share the road with.

8. Avoid the quick fix. Super supplements, magic potions, powerful pills are not the answer. I’ve taken several supplements that promised faster muscle growth and weight loss. Guess what, they all do the same thing…Nothing. The extra fat and weight took time to put on; it will take time to come off. There is a level of difficulty that accompanies healthy living, but like anything else you will get what you put into your fitness exploits.  

9. Drink water. The world is covered in 2/3 of the stuff. Do you think it might be important? Being thirsty can trigger hunger urges causing excessive caloric intake, which will lead to increased fat. So grab a bottle you can refill and drink up.

10. Never give up. Falling off the wagon, making it to spring break, and cheating on your diet are not reasons to throw in the towel. Health is a lifetime commitment that you have to always revert back to. Stay focused and you will have the body you want all year, not just for a couple of months each year.

These are just a few things you can do to make your 2013 the best possible. We live in the information age, use the Internet, local gyms, etc. to find information on obtaining your goals. Beware of false information. There are plenty of companies and people out there after your money with every little if any regard for your well-being.

 If you have never exercised in a gym I highly recommend finding a personal trainer or strength coach. The NSCA has a source on their website for finding trainers in your area.