“I want to start living healthy! I’m going to go out there and join the gym and start exercising 6 days a week. I’m going to eat more vegetables too!”

Sound familiar? I bet it does! But don’t worry, we’ve all been there.

Trying to be healthy is great, but we all know it’s not easy. It takes some serious planning and effort, and it doesn’t just happen overnight.

Three years ago, I started my journey in being healthier. Like most people, I ran miles. I stuck to a strict 1200-calorie diet. I was afraid of lifting weights. It wasn’t wrong and after a few tries, I did become a healthier version of me. But my initial tries took too much effort and definitely didn’t last long.

If you’re trying to be healthy, stop doing these 5 things and you’ll be on your way to a healthier version of you.

1. Stop declaring meaningless goals.

Shouting and telling everyone you want to start adopting a healthier lifestyle may backfire on you if you’re simply saying it for the sake of saying it. You will try to make several changes at one go, but two weeks later you’ll fall back to your old habits. We don’t want that do we? For starters, stop telling everyone you’re on your way to change if you don’t mean it. Sit right down and think about what you want to achieve by making solid goals that are realistic and achievable. Add in a time factor to it, and you won’t stumble.

Just don’t simply say it for fun.

2. Stop believing that you have to do cardio all the time.

Yes, cardio burns the most amount of calories when you’re doing it, but as mentioned in a research study, once you step off the treadmill, your body doesn’t burn as much as it potentially can if you start lifting weights or do a High Intensity Interval workout. If your goals are to lose weight, I suggest you choose activities that you like doing. The more you like what you do, the more you’d stick to it.

In fact, you don’t need cardio to lose weight. If your diet is 100% excellent and you’re keeping active doing things that you like as much as possible, you will still lose weight.

3. Stop thinking you can spot reduce fat.

How many times have you thought about toning your arms and only focus on doing tricep dips and bicep curls? Here’s the thing—we cannot spot reduce fat and a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research can confirm that. Our body is genetically made to store and lose fat from a certain place in a certain timing. Some of us lose fat first from our tummy, some from our butt. Just like Waldo and his red striped shirt, we are all unique and definitely genetically different. It’s best to start doing exercises that use more than just one muscle, like squats.

4. Stop avoiding the dumbbells.

If you’ve been clocking in hundreds of elliptical miles and yet can’t seem to lose any more weight or tone up, you might be lacking strength time. The best way to torch fats is to start lifting weights, and lifting heavy.

20 reps of a certain exercise on a light dumbbell might not be enough—this builds muscular endurance, not the tone up look that most of us are after. Start increasing those weights until you can feel the burn at rep number 10 to 12. If you can do any more than 15, that’s too light. Increase it and start seeing results.

If you’re scared you might look like Incredible Hulk when you start lifting heavy, don’t worry. I did too when I was starting out. This, I assure you will not happen. We ladies do not make enough testosterone in our bodies for this, which is the stuff that men have that make them look ripped and bulky. Lifting heavy will make you stronger and will definitely tone you up.

5. Stop avoiding the things that make you happy.

A 2011 study in the Journal of Applied Psychology: Health and Well-being has found clear and compelling evidence that happy people tend to live longer and experience better health than their unhappy peers. Feeling positive about yourself and eliminating unnecessary stressors can contribute to longevity and better health among healthy populations. Surround yourself with people who genuinely make you smile and stop putting too much demand upon you. Practice yoga and take up meditation. Being healthy is more than just physical.

6. Stop thinking that all calories are the same.

large_4319614500We all know nutrition is the most important factor in weight loss. But do you know that the types of food we eat make a difference too? A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association has proven this to be true. Just remember this—not all calories are created equal. An 80-calorie bar of fun-size Snickers is not the same as an 80-calorie green apple. The latter has much more nutrients, vitamins and minerals—the stuff we need more of for our body.

Instead of counting calories, start eating real foods: foods that nourish you, foods that makes you feel energetic—not the foods that makes you feel tired, hungrier and bloated. A junk food is still junk food no matter how “healthy” it claims to be.

Cut the myths: The Top 10 Nutrition Myths Busted

7. Stop giving up too easily.

If you’re not expecting the results you’re hoping to see, don’t give up. If you’re hitting the gym with your best friend and she’s losing more weight even though both of you are doing the same exercises, don’t give up. As mentioned earlier, we are all genetically different. We all have different lives, challenges, dreams and goals. If you’re following a weight loss program from a certain weight loss book, don’t get your hopes too high in wishing you’ll get the exact same results. Ninety-nine percent of the time you won’t. There are just so many factors that determine how fast we lose weight.

The best thing you should do is to keep an open mind, stay the course and do your best. Results will come. Even if you don’t get the same end result as what the book promises, you are definitely better and healthier than when you first started.

The most important thing in being healthy is to believe in yourself. You’ve won half the battle if you know you can do it and see yourself becoming the person you want to be. When times gets tough, breathe, meditate, do some yoga and do not give up.

You will get there. I did. And I know you can too. If you’re starting to build a new habit, be sure to read this: 18 Tricks to Make New Habits Stick.

Love this article? Share it with your friends on Facebook