We all only have a finite amount of time so when we invest our time and effort we really want to make sure it is giving us the best results in the shortest amount of time. So here are a few tips to set you on target for success.

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1. Old-school cardio.

Spending 20 minutes in the weight room or burst training will benefit you far more than an hour on an elliptical machine or that new aerobics class with the hot instructor. According to Dr. Mark Smith, “long cardio sessions can actually work against you … because your body basically sees exercise as stress, and stress causes the release of a hormone called cortisol, which breaks down energy stores for immediate use … prolonged increases in cortisol eventually lead to insulin resistance, a decrease in bone density, loss of lean muscle mass, and weight gain.”

2. Taking the fat-burning supplement

Burn 10 pounds in 5 days! Get Kim Kardashian’s body by Monday morning!

Reality check: ineffective amounts, scientifically unsubstantiated nutrients and other factors mean you’re throwing away your hard-earned money on these “miracle” supplements.

3. Overdoing it.

You’ve got a hot date on Saturday night and the perfect strapless dress waits in your closet. Slaving away daily at the gym all week will give you toned arms, right? Nope.

More does not mean better with exercise. Over-exercise will eventually cause your cortisol to crash (remember, you want balanced cortisol levels rather than too high or low) and ramps up adrenal hormones, which is a surefire recipe for equating visiting your gym with having a root canal. Taking rest days, getting sufficient sleep and not making gym time into your primary hobby are your best bets to get exercise’s benefits without overdoing it.

4. Avoiding fat.

Despite the endless varieties of fat-free that line the aisles of the grocery store, most experts agree that dietary fat is not the enemy.

“The majority of foods that are labeled low-fat or fat-free are refined processed foods in which the fat has been replaced with more sugar,” writes Jen Broyles. Avocado, olive oil and wild-caught salmon become smart choices that also supply your body and brain with the healthy fats they require.

5. Under-utilizing personal training sessions.

Commitment, the right mindset and self-discipline get you lean and toned. So make sure you turn up consistently and walk the talk. Use the guidance and challenge to help you constantly improve.  Remember your trainer can not sweat for you or magically whip you into shape.

6. Skipping out on blood work.

“Test, don’t guess,” is my motto. Take vitamin D for example. One study found almost 49% of Australians deficient in this crucial vitamin.

Pinpointing hormonal imbalances, metabolic dysfunctions and causes for fatigue and other symptoms are among the issues blood work can identify and then I can guide you to correct.

7. Drinking energy drinks for the “electrolytes.”

Unless you’re running marathons, working out intensely or exercising for longer than 90 minutes, electrolyte replenishing sports drinks will probably do more harm than good with their sugar content. If you insist on a pre-packaged beverage, look for no-sugar-added coconut water. Otherwise, plain old filtered water does the job perfectly.