* Select one area to work on: Many people make the mistake of trying to make himself or herself into a new person overnight. It's unreasonable to expect yourself to, at the snap of a finger, change habits that you have spent years cultivating. Instead, select one health and fitness area to work on.
* Select a specific goal: Saying that you "want to lose weight" or "get in shape" is too vague. You need to come up with a concrete goal in order to measure your progress and celebrate your success.
* Select a realistic goal: If you've been a sugar junkie for 20 years, you can't expect to go cold turkey overnight. You may be able to cut sugar out for a few days or even a few weeks, but you won't be able to keep it up for the rest of your life.
* Opt for incremental change: In the sugar scenario, outline a series of steps you can take over time to achieve your goal. The first step might be to switch from regular soda to sugar-free soda. After successfully doing that for a month, tackle the next step - maybe a switch from regular to sugar-free ice cream, or restricting desserts to weekends only. Incorporating small changes over time dramatically increases the chance that you'll make it a permanent lifestyle change.
* Get some support: In a society that supersizes everything, it's never easy to stick with your health and fitness goals. Enlist the help of a friend, family member, or co-worker - someone who will help you stay with the program. If your goal is to go to the gym three times a week, for example, knowing that your friend is waiting there for you might be just the incentive you need to make sure you follow through. For extra motivation, put a dollar in a jar every time you go to the gym, then treat yourself to something special at the end of each month.
* Celebrate your success: We're quick to beat ourselves up when we don't reach our health and fitness goals, but we rarely celebrate our successes. When you've achieved one of your goals, give yourself a pat on the back. Treat yourself to a massage, a new pair of shoes, or a night out with your friends.