We have all tried them. The newest, latest and greatest diet that will blast fat, flatten your stomach by tomorrow, or promise that you'll look like a Victoria's Secret model or David Beckham in just two short weeks.

Yeah right.

The truth is, many people want the easy way out. They want a diet that is going to give them instant results without having to put too much effort into it. But there is no magic pill or body wrap and not even the newest high-tech gym machine ,on those infomercials we're all too fond of, is going to change you over night.

So what is the secret?

It's all about exercise and diet. It's that simple. You aren't going to get ripped or toned by just drinking protein shakes and not exercising, just like you won't get far by just simply exercising, but having bad eating habits. In order to get great results you have to, first, know how to get the most out of your workout, and, second, know what foods to implement into your diet and which foods to avoid.

If your workout regimen consists of going to the gym 3 times a week that is great. But, if you are doing the same workout or close to the same workout each time you go that is not going to get you far. Sure, if you go on the elliptical for 30 minutes each time you might think, "Wow! I burned 350 calories!" But, in reality you may have only burned a little under 200. The machines don't always have an accurate reading of calories burned, but only a rough estimate. You're also going to get the best results if you mix cardio with weight lifting.

The best time to do any cardio is at the end of your workout. After you lift your body is in fat burning mode, so any cardio you do at the end of your workout is simply going to burn fat. And ladies, lifting weights will not make you bulky. It will only tone and tighten your body. Women do not have enough testosterone in their body to get "bulky." So don't be afraid to go pick up some dumbbells even if that section of the gym is male dominant.(trust me-you might get looked at funny, but no guy is going to tell you you can't use the weights. I think they are only intimidated by the fact your doing more than using a jump rope.)

To ensure all of your hard work at the gym pays off, you need to make an effort to have a clean diet. Sorry, this does not include pop (diet included), pasta, pizza, or frozen dinners. You will need to have a diet that consists of protein, whole grains, healthy fats (almonds and nuts are great!), some carbohydrates, and fruits and vegetables. A great rule of thumb to go by is to eat your carbs in the morning only. A bowl of oatmeal or a piece of toast are some examples. Then, try to taper off your carbs after that. Stick with protein like eggs and chicken and if you do eat pasta, bread or rice try to get whole grain pasta and bread and brown rice. Stay away from white pasta or white potatoes as they use bleached flour and do not have as many nutrients in them.

Adding supplements to your routine is a great way to increase your results. Try to do your research before ordering or trying anything, though. There are so many supplements out there and some of them are not as safe as others. It's important to check ingrediants and make sure that all of the ingredients are approved by the FDA. Your safest bet is to add some sort of a protein powder to your diet. Having a protein shake right after your workout will help with muscle recovery, meaning it will protect your muscles, build muscle tissue, and restore energy. Again, try to get a high grade protein powder. They sell protein powder at big chain stores, but this is not as high of quality as a powder you would buy at a fitness center or nutrition store. Do your homework.

Now that you have a handle on what I believe to be the best way to get in shape, you can challenge yourself for the new year. I have tried other things just like many of you, but having stuck to this for the past 2 years I find it to be the most beneficial way to staying healthy and getting results.

Give it a shot and see if you think the same. What's it going to hurt to get a little healthier for the new year, have more energy and feel great about how you look? I think it would be the best gift you could give yourself.