It is important when making life changes like these, that you set achievable goals for yourself. Visual inspiration is good, but you need to be aware that you have your own body type and metabolism and if the person in the picture isn’t you, you will not look like them no matter how much you exercise and diet.

Using a celebrity as inspiration is fine, but it should not be your goal. It’s like a lioness working towards becoming a cheetah. They’re both carnivore felines, but the cheetah is just built different. The lioness can only be as strong and fast as is allowed by her genes. She will never be as fast or as lean as a cheetah. She can however, become one of the best and strongest hunters in her pride. In the same way, while a celebrity body is good inspiration, you can not transform into someone else.

More often than not, people – especially young women – want to “lose weight” (Find out why this is in quotation marks here) or change their bodies to look more like the models in magazines or people on the screen. Unfortunately, wanting to emulate these images is also one of the most damaging reasons to want to change yourself.

First of all, people on television have makeup, special lighting and post editing. More importantly though, they are not YOU. Staring at a Victoria’s Secret model and wishing you had that body will only hurt your attempts at improving your health and physique. They are models for a reason. They have the body type for it, their genes dictated that they would naturally be slim and tall with little fat deposits. And if you’re reading this, chances are, like me, you were not. A lot of them don’t even need to exercise, though all of them watch what they eat. Though there are some who work very hard and make a lot of sacrifices to keep a “model look”. Or, if they are male, they develop muscle easily and have certain proportions that the fashion industry looks for. Though male models usually do put in a good amount of work at the gym and they certainly don’t eat pizza and drink a six pack of beer every day.

This is another important point to keep in mind, all the celebrities whose bodies you admire, work hard in one way or another to have it. Sacrifices must be made and, as they say, you can’t expect something for nothing. You have your own body type and shape, and while you will not look like Miranda Kerr, you can aim to make your body look and feel the best it can and become your own version of a VS angel (or male model). Remember, they are inspiration, not a goal!

If you have a photo of yourself where you love the way you look and you loved the way you felt, use that as your inspiration. If you don’t, then use an article of clothing that you want to fit or look good in. You can also set numbered goals, but again, be realistic!

If your ideal weight – as in the weight you should be to be healthy and not the weight you want to be – is 50 lbs away, for example, set a nearby goal, like “I will lose 10 lbs in 5 weeks”, or an even closer 5 lbs in 3 weeks will give you a sense of accomplishment sooner, which will inspire you to keep going.

If you don’t want to count pounds, maybe you want to drop a few inches. Take your measurements, and take the same approach. If you have a 40” waist and you want to be at 27”, set your first goal at 38, then 36, and so on.

And don’t weigh or measure yourself every day. Every 2 – 3 weeks is more beneficial since you will see a difference and this will motivate you.

Setting unattainable goals is detrimental to your progress since you will never achieve what you want. If you must use an image for inspiration, I recommend finding someone who has a similar body type as you. For example, don’t choose someone with a long torso if you have a short one or someone with narrow shoulders if you have more of a broad back. Also, try picking someone who is as close to your height as possible.

Choosing someone with a similar ethnic background would be extremely helpful too, as different ethnicities have different body types – and metabolisms – because of their genetic makeup. So if you’re Latin, for example, don’t choose a caucasian inspiration – unless your European genes are VERY strong and you already have that body type. If you’re African-American, don’t choose a Caucasian or Asian inspiration and so on.

Another usually unattainable goal is using a ripped fitness model as inspiration. Unless you are already slim, toned and exercise some, you will be setting yourself up for frustration. I’m not saying you can’t do it, you can. But we are talking about being realistic. If you want to achieve that lean, hard, chiseled, fitness model body, you must be willing to go all out in your diet and training, dedicate an enormous amount of time and effort and make many sacrifices. If you are fine with that, then go ahead and get to work! Though the same applies, try to find a fitness model with a similar body type as you (long/short legs, wide/narrow hips, etcetera).

However you decide to illustrate your goals, make sure they are realistic!