Changing habits is tough! Eating right and incorporating regular exercise into your life can be a real challenge. Just keep in mind that hard work reaps great benefits and it really does get easier. Here are a few tips on how to keep your goals in focus as you make lifestyle changes:

First, really know why you’re doing it. You can’t make big changes in your life unless you are truly committed to making the change– and that means knowing what is motivating you. Make a list of why you want to change and what your ultimate goals are—get beyond the trivial and dig into the heart of the matter. Knowing why you’re doing this will make it easier to stick to your guns when it gets tough.

Next, tell people. Seriously. If you put it out there, it’ll be easier for your friends and family to hold you accountable. Should you be eating an entire pint of ice cream? No. At 9pm? Certainly not. Why are you home early? Did you skip the gym? Give the people in your life permission to support you…and to snatch the spoon/soda/second helping from you before you make a bad decision.

Don’t be staving. There’s no reason to starve yourself. In fact, it’s counter productive. Not only does starving yourself send your body into the aptly named “starvation mode” which causes you to retain unwanted pounds, it also sets you up to have crazy cravings. Eat small, smart snacks and meals throughout the day, aiming for foods that have small quantities of good fats, lots of lean protein and slow-digesting carbohydrates (high fiber). You’ll keep your blood sugar stable and you’ll be less likely to cave in to temptations to chow down on junk.

Make it positive. The word “diet” reeks of deprivation and negativity. You are making this choice for good reason! You know because you made a list, remember? (See “First” above) You have control! You’re not “on a diet,” (waah!) you are “making choices to get fit and healthy!” You are getting stronger, healthier and more confident with every good choice you make. Embrace it!