Dear Peggy: I always vow to lose weight at the beginning of the year, but it's so hard to maintain the weight loss as the months go by. Do you have any ideas that would help me lose weight and keep it off? —A.L., Battle Creek, Michigan
Weight loss is a matter of taking fewer calories in and expending extra calories out. First, let's focus on the "calories in" part.
Personally, I control my weight best when I take time to plan. Try flipping through Healthy Cooking or another recipe publication. Look for appealing items that provide good nutritional value using whole grains, vegetables and plenty of fiber. Plan to prepare three new recipes each week, and soon you'll build a collection of healthy dishes that you and your family enjoy.
Secondly, list your favorite low-calorie foods and stock up on them when at the supermarket. Comb the produce section for fresh fruits and veggies, and fill your refrigerator with lean meats and reduced-fat cheeses.
You must also exert energy to burn calories, so make exercise a priority. Working out can't be something done occasionally, you must plan it into your schedule and make it a part of your life to maintain permanent weight loss.
The one message I want to leave you with is that it's ultimately up to you to make these changes and feel happy with yourself. You can lose the weight! Just plan and take things one day at a time.