Through my work, I am fortunate to have been a part of the remarkable positive changes of so many. I will let you in on a little secret.

The trick too successful weight loss is not setting up a dreaded diet and exercise program. The key lies not in limiting, restricting, or pressuring yourself. The way to get in good shape, and beyond, is to embrace a higher quality of life and better health. Here are ten effective tips to start you off right with your new lifestyle.

1. Start with a benchmark.

You need a reasonable timeline to mark your first goal. For getting in shape, try starting with a 60-day goal. This duration works because it is long enough to notice a difference in your body but short enough to provide you with your first success, and a boost in motivation early on.

2. Frame your goal for well-being, not weight loss.

Let go of the numbers, looking instead to the positive habits you are forming. Losing weight is, of course, part of the process of getting in shape, but focusing on it will not give you a clear picture of health. In fact, as you burn fat and form lean muscle, you may notice minimal weight loss initially, or even weight gain, as muscle weighs more than fat. Then, as having more lean muscle mass increases the metabolic rate, you will notice your body becomes slimmer at a much faster pace.

3. Be realistic and patient.

The process of changing your health is like running a marathon. Pace yourself and be consistent. That’s it. You don’t need to cross the starting line at a sprint – if you try to do too much at the beginning, you will only wear yourself out and run the risk of getting discouraged before you have the chance to create new habits.

4.Set digestible targets.

This will help you to stay the course and give you a regular dose of motivation. Make your goals by the week, building each weekly goal upon the last.

5. Avoid calorie counting.

The food we eat is much more than a mass of calories. Some foods can trigger hormones that encourage fat loss or gain. Knowing the right types of food to eat will yield the best results, not calorie counting.

6. Cook in-season.

Wholesome, locally and sustainably grown foods are the best for your health, community and the environment. True nourishment isn’t just about what you eat. Rather, it is about how you source your foods, how you prepare them, and how you serve your family and community in the process. This holistic approach to choosing what you eat is a foundational part of integrating wellness into your life.

7. Exercise with quality not quantity in mind.

Long, tedious workouts do not translate into well-being. Doing too much can work against you, especially if combined with a diet that isn’t nourishing and supportive. Rigorous exercise and a calorie-deficient diet, a combo that so many mistakenly start with, will lead to disappointment, not health and sustainable weight loss. Focus on the quality of your exercise, keeping in mind that the higher the intensity workout, the shorter the duration necessary.

8. Do cardio and weight training.

You will notice much better results if you use both cardio-intensive workouts and other forms of exercise such as weight lifting and functional bodyweight exercises.

9. Integrate relaxation techniques into your resolutions.

Exercise is great for relieving stress, but you need more than just your workouts for staying calm, positive and mentally balanced – three traits that will help you succeed in your fitness and well-being goals. Meditation, time for quiet solitude and yoga are all tools you can use to manage stress.

10. Laugh, a lot. Laughter is truly the best medicine!

Laughing is good for you, and it doesn’t even have to be a genuine laugh. The body can’t tell the difference between a real or fake laugh. If absolutely nothing can make you laugh today, then pretend you are laughing (which will probably feel so funny you will start laughing for real). This can help to improve your mood and let you enjoy your world a little more.

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