pen the magazine or turn on your TV, check your online mail or scroll through your morning papers, and here it is: the ever present ad, commercial or infomercial luring you into the process of SLIMMING. Fitness equipment dealers, diet pills distributors, diet meals manufactures and diet gurus promise you ultimate and fast results. Just give them your money.

The reality is, you need to buy only two things, and those diet vendors sell none of them: a gym membership and a pair of good sneakers.

I do not need to explain the first one: no amount of equipment can make you exercise at home regularly. There is always something to do when you decide to go ahead, and have your workout at home. Also, a good gym gives you an opportunity to use wide variety of different equipment and classes, use the trainers advise, have a whole program developed for you, meet new people, and, thus, give you motivation to exercise.

Also, I couldn't stress enough the importance of a proper pair of shoes. You do need to visit the specialized store, and talk to the sales personnel. You'll be surprised how much you need to know to choose the right training gear. What's your type of pronation? Are your feet long or short, wide or narrow? What kind of activities are you going to perform? How often?

Once chosen and fitted perfectly to your needs, your pair of shoes will turn your regular workouts into a much awaited and pleasurable adventure, rather then a burden.

[in]The next change is THE FOOD. I am sorry, but no amount of physical activity can help you, if all the efforts are followed with sugary drinks and greasy fast food. The 21-day diet for 5 days with the consequent pigging out on all the forbidden foods is no help either. And for the majority of people, their relationship with food is the main and hard to overcome problem.

The steps to follow are quite easy, but not that convenient:

1) Do drink water. You don't need widely advertised sport drinks, unless your training session is really intensive, and lasts much longer then one hour.

You don't need soda drinks either. There is nothing but sugar, bubbles, artificial color, flavor, and some preservatives. If you survive on caffeine, you may start thinking of a good cup of espresso, which is far better then gobbling down cans and cans of potassium benzoate and phosphoric acid mix. By the way, the recent studies found that phosphoric acid, and not caffeine, prevents calcium absorptions. This means weak bones. Weak bones mean fractures and traumas. With Doctor Pepper you sacrifice nothing? Yeah, right.

2) Eat your fruits and veggies. Enough said.

3) Ever heard of joy of cooking? You don't need to be a gourmet cook to make a sandwich, a protein shake or boil some rice to go with roasted chicken breast picked at the nearest deli. The easy to make and delicious meals do exist in this world: marinated peaces of meat, seasoned chicken and pork, ready in minutes seafood, a lot of foods you can conveniently reheat in a microwave. Cooking at home makes you think of what you put on your plate, and maybe even look at the nutrition information panel.

You are not an indoor cat to eat from a can.

Leave Mac and Cheese for kids.

Admit, that the fast food is not that tasty. It's just well, fast.

4) Stay away from TV while eating. That's the rule, which may be pretty difficult to follow, while it offers endless opportunities. Not to hurry for the 265th sitcom episode with something quick to grab and stuff into yourself. Talking to your close friends or your family. Paying attention to what you eat, finally turning you evening-in-front-of-TV gluttony into the process of recognition and appreciation of flavors and tastes.

5) Don't be tricked by diet foods. The SlimFast shakes contain approximately 220 calories and whopping 35 grams of sugar per shake (pretty close to those much more desirable Starbucks drinks). A lot of protein bars tag along quite a number of calories for the quite unimpressive amount of protein they offer. Low-fat yogurts, smoothies and ice creams full of sugar but short on taste. So, as you may discover, prefixes low- and diet- doesn't obligatory mean good and healthy. Check the nutrition information, and see for yourself.

But there is the main dilemma. What's easier - to workout or to follow the strict diet? The majority of people will follow the diet path, claiming that they have no willpower to exercise on the regular basis. But ask yourself: how often do you need to exercise to stay in shape? Five to three times a week. How often do you happen to eat? Three to five times A DAY. It turns out, that dieting is much more challenging than any workout regimen, and, by any means, far less fun.