To maximize weight loss and exercise goals, you need to avoid crash diets and overly aggressive exercise programs. Small, simple changes have a more lasting effect. For instance, instead of going on a food fast or severe calorie deprivation diet, make a pledge to have smarter food choices by eating healthier foods. Start reading food packaging labels. Labels are the key to weight loss and proper nutrition. From labels, you gain the knowledge of which foods are high calorie and which ones have too much fat or carbohydrates (sugar). More importantly, you can study the ingredients of food products so that you can avoid certain health and weight loss sabotaging components. You can exclude potentially harmful ingredients like high sodium levels, corn syrup, artificial sweeteners and colors and hydrogenated oils from your diet when you read labels. As far as an exercise program is concerned, instead of stressing yourself out over finding the time for a two-hour gym workout each day of the week, try starting out with three to four 30-minute walks per week. Walking on a treadmill at the gym or outdoors is one of the best all-round exercises. Studies have shown that walkers are 50% healthier than non-exercisers. Once you make a walking routine an integral part of your week, it is then much easier to branch out into other forms of exercise, like circuit training or aerobics classes. The bottom line is that if you start making changes slowly and ease into a healthy lifestyle, the more likely your goals will take root and become a part of your life.