Hey guys, it's February and, hopefully, a lot of people are still working hard on their New Year's resolutions. I won't lie to you—I don't believe in these kinds of resolutions. I just don't. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about people deciding to make positive changes in their lives. I'm all for people deciding to live healthier lives. But New Year's resolutions fail most of the time. That's probably why people keep making the same ones year after year.

I want you to set realistic goals—and them reach them. I want you to live a better, healthier life. So, I put together a list of mistakes that hundreds of thousands of people make every year. Avoid them, and the next time you set goals you won't have to set them again; next time, or maybe this time, you'll make them happen!

1. Don't Set Unrealistic Goals

Understand that I want you to push your limits and achieve all that you can to become a healthier person. I just don't think you get there by making these big resolutions. So many resolutions fail because people take on too much. If you're 150 pounds overweight and your goal is to run a marathon in six months, odds are you're not going to meet that goal. It's much more likely that you'll hurt yourself trying, and I can guarantee you'll be discouraged when you do.

Understand that I want you to push your limits and achieve all that you can to become a healthier person.

Let me be clear, I don't care if you're 15 or 200 pounds overweight. Anyone can successfully lose weight. It's just not going to happen all at once. So don't set yourself up for disappointment. Make honest goals with realistic timeframes. If you want to go from couch potato to power lifter, you can absolutely do it. But give yourself time. Be patient, be realistic, and you'll be successful.

2. Don't Kid Yourself That Exercise Will Solve Everything

Exercise: Everybody's always telling us we need to do more of it. But, to reach your goals, you have to do more than just work out.

First, you need to understand that you can't exercise off your weight. You've probably been told the opposite, but it's just not true. Too many people try to lose weight this way, and when they fail to do it, they give up on their weight-loss goal—and on exercise itself.

What you need to do first is straighten out your nutrition. Fix that, and you fix your weight. Honestly, people with 50 or more pounds to lose are more likely to hurt themselves exercising than they are to see any positive benefits from it. If your goal is to lose weight, the answer lies in nutrition.

Second, you need to avoid jumping into exercise too fast and too early. If you're accustomed to a sedentary lifestyle and are overweight, then suddenly start going to the gym six days a week or trying to lift heavy weights, odds are you'll end up disappointed, injured, or both.

I strongly encourage people who are overweight to lose most of their weight first, and only then slowly start exercising. Start by taking daily walks or doing some bodyweight exercises at home. If you can consistently do 30 push-ups and 30 bodyweight squats a day at home, then you might consider a gym membership. But remember, be patient and start light.

3. Don't Forget to Set Up Goals and Rewards

Filled with enthusiasm, lots of people stick to their New Year's resolutions for the first week, maybe even three weeks—maybe even into February. What can you do to make sure you're still going strong come June or July?

One good approach is to have a big goal, such as "one year from now, I want to be 50 pounds lighter." But most people overlook the importance of setting small goals, too, then rewarding themselves when they reach them. It's early February and you're still following your program. Reward yourself!

What you need to do first is straighten out your nutrition.

Buy a pair of jeans that fits your new, smaller waistline. Treat yourself to a weekend away or some new workout clothes. Hold off on the big trip to the Caribbean or the new car until you reach your final goal. In the meantime, set up small goals and small rewards to keep you motivated. Hint: Don't make rewards that have anything to do with food.

The key to success is knowing how to keep going when the resolution hype has died down. Knowing something special is waiting for you when you reach a goal can help you deal with not being able to eat all you want or having to exert yourself physically. Whatever you choose for your rewards, make sure they're things you truly want, and make them big enough to keep you going long after everyone else has given up.

4. Don't Fall for Fad Diets

The quick fix promised by fad diets is probably the quickest route to failure. The diet industry brings in billions of dollars a year. Think about that. If diets really work, how do these companies keep making money? The short of it, folks, is that diets don't work.

Sure, you might lose 20 pounds or more eating processed energy bars for three meals a day. You might even keep that up for a month, but nobody can keep that up forever. It's not sustainable. Our bodies are just not designed to live on shakes, powders, or pills. Not only are the fad diets expensive, but they're unhealthy in the long-run, because none of them involve eating real food. The diet industry just wants your money. These companies don't care if you're successful or not, so save yourself time, money, and frustration. Skip the fads, and focus on a sound nutrition plan with lots of whole foods and no junk food.

5. Don't Forget the Basics

Without question, the reason most people fail to meet their weight-loss goals—heck, the reason most people are overweight—is because they've forgotten the basics, like drinking enough water and getting enough sleep. These boring things never make it onto people's New Year's resolution list when in fact they should be at the top of the list. Forget promising to go to the gym every day this year. Promise to drink a gallon of water every day, instead. Promise to get eight hours of sleep every night.

I'm not kidding. Doing those two things consistently, every single day, will prove far more effective than any gym membership or fad diet. Water and sleep, guys—water and sleep! You cannot lose weight if you don't get enough water and sleep.

Losing weight isn't complicated. Being healthy shouldn't be a resolution you make year after year, it should be a way of life. Decide you deserve to live a healthier, happier life, and stick to it—no matter what.

About the Author

Cristy ''Code Red'' Nickel

Cristy ''Code Red'' Nickel

Cristy "Code Red" Nickel has been in the health and fitness industry since 1994. While studying Exercise Science at the University of Memphis, Cristy competed in three NPC Figure competitions...

View all articles by this author