Happy 2012!

The holidays are O-V-E-R. You know what that means? No more in-your-face, nonstop holiday desserts, fatty casseroles or calorie-laden eggnog. No more family feasts, company parties or PTA potlucks filling up your calendar, either. Whether you over-indulged in 2011 or just want to get fitter and eat better, a new year is the perfect time to make serious life changes. It’s a fresh year and a fresh start. I won’t lie to you; it’s not going to be easy. Committing to a healthier lifestyle is just that, a commitment, and its a big one that will take a lot of work. But believe me when I tell you it’ll be worth it! You do want to live to meet your grandchildren or see them graduate from college right? Thought so.

I know you can do this, and I’ve put five of my top tips down on paper to help you get on a healthy track for 2012.

1. Change your mind

The first step is no sweat literally. It’s all in your head. Realize that you have the power to change your life by changing your mindset. We all have the ability to choose our paths, reach our goals and build exceptional lives. The challenge is in believing you can. Next, look at how your emotions and behaviors are affecting your health. Are you feeding something besides your hunger, like your feelings? Examine your self-destructive behaviors and work on minimizing the negative self-talk. Journaling, positive affirmations, visualization and other techniques can help improve yourself-esteem and move you closer to your goals.

2. Set attainable goals

What is your vision of the ultimate you? Take sometime to imagine it, and then break it down. To make permanent change, you’ll need to set short-term and long-term goals and create plans to achieve them.Whether you are establishing a new daily exercise regimen or weekly weigh-in, mastering a new exercise move each week or learning new healthy recipes to cook for you and your family, setting realistic goals will help you see the progress you’re making and keep you motivated. Reward yourself in life-affirming ways that means no food rewards! Treat yourself to a massage for killing it at the gym all week or splurge on a new workout outfit or pair of sneakers. Reaffirm your belief in yourself and your goals daily, and you’ll find yourself taking the active steps needed to achieve those goals.

3. Set up a support system

You are responsible for your own success, but we all get by with a little help from our friends and family. Thats why its important to build a healthy support system.Share your goals and how you’re planning to accomplish them. Give people the lowdown on the types of foods you’re eating and no longer eating and your new workout schedule. Let them know how important it is to you to have their support. Enlist your co-workers, too. They can keep you on track on the job by not leaving unhealthy treats around. Chances are, you’ll find someone else looking for support, too. Hello, new exercise buddy! Lean on the people in your network when you feel discouraged or unmotivated, and celebrate with them when you hit a milestone.

4. Make healthier choices

Kick off the new year with a freshly restocked fridge and pantry. Since you can’t eat whats not there, dump all the junk foods from your cupboards immediately. Make room for nutritious, energy-boosting fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. Plan out a few go-to healthy meals, then stock up on those ingredients, along with snack-size packages of nuts, baby carrots and organic yogurt for when you are on the run.

5. Start moving!

Exercise is the best way to burn calories and fat. Find the activities that will burn the most calories. I’m a huge fan of circuit training because it simultaneously improves mobility, strength and stamina. If you’ve been sedentary, just take that first step. You may not be ready to run a half marathon, but you can go for a walk or maybe even a short run. Stick with it. Set up a workout schedule and mark it on your calendar along with your most important appointments of the day. Then DO it!

This may not be a piece of cake. In fact, it had better not be. But with the right mind-set, motivation and support system, you can do it. Believe in yourself and your ability to change, and you will. Now, let’s make 2012 your healthiest year yet!

Jillian Michaels is a co-host of the award-winning syndicated show The Doctors, a New York Times best-selling author, and a leading health and wellness expert. Visit jillianmichaels.com/shake to get a free 30-day trial of Jillian’sĀ online weight-loss program.