Isn’t it great to know that there are some things you can just count on each year?

One is that we all want to get organized and ready to face the New Year in style. So, the stores respond with all types of storage containers on sale for closets, ways to reduce clutter, etc.

The second is that losing weight or getting in shape is a New Year’s Resolution that a number of people make and so the stores respond with exercise equipment, apparel, and other items to assist with that resolution.

And third, that I write a column on exercise and losing weight.

If you stick to just about any weight loss diet, you will lose weight. The lack of knowledge on how to correctly lose weight and burn fat is one of the main reasons most people are not successful in keeping the weight off long-term, and also why people spend billions of dollars a year on useless weight loss products and programs.

Most people start a diet because they are upset with their physical appearance and the way they feel. Fad diets are extremely popular because you can lose weight in a short period of time. The problem with most fad diets is the vast majority of pounds you shed are lean body mass (muscles and internal organs) and water weight. Plus, most people only stick with a fad diet for a short period of time and quickly fall back to their old bad habits.

If you want to decrease your body fat percentage and keep the excess weight off for good, you don’t need a fad diet, you need a lifestyle change. Consistently eating a healthy diet combined with regular strength training and cardiovascular exercise allows you to burn excess body fat while retaining your lean body tissue and maintain your goal weight.

Over the years, I have heard every excuse imaginable why someone can’t eat healthy or exercise regularly. In my opinion, there is no such thing as a good excuse why you can not improve your health, appearance, and quality of life. Believe it or not, it’s easier than you think.

You can get rapid results with only having to dedicate three hours a week to exercise. You can easily add three extra hours to your week by getting up 30 minutes earlier, or staying up 30 minutes later. You don’t need to buy an expensive health club membership or invest thousands of dollars in exercise equipment. All you need is put fitness in your life and begin at an easy pace and keep it up. It can be any type of activity, inside or outside, television or radio, walking, bicycling, swimming, a fitness video, health club. You name it, you choose it, but you must do it at least three times a week and daily if possible.

Pre-prepare healthy meals by cooking in bulk and refrigerating your meals. Make a large salad. Broil a few packages of chicken breasts. Buy enough fruit for the entire week — three servings per day. This is perfect for people who are on the run and constantly eating fast food for convenience. It’s quick, easy and takes very little preparation time. Throw your food for the day in a bag and you’re off!

In conclusion, fad diets are not the answer for losing weight and keeping it off. Most of the pounds you drop are from water loss and losing lean body mass - not burning fat. If you want to decrease your body fat percentage, lose weight and keep it off, you have to change your lifestyle, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.

Good Luck. Stay as motivated in February and May and August as you are right now. Make it a priority. After all, we all find time to eat and sleep, why not to exercise too?