7 steps to get your minds as well as your stomachs to agree to a healthier diet:
Many people see weight loss as a means to getting other things that they want in life - a relationship, better job or even more self-confidence, so it's important to ask yourself if losing weight will bring you those things or if there are other ways to obtain them.
By pinning aspirations on a certain weight then, inevitably, if you fail to reach that weight you will feel that it's impossible to reach your aspirations, too.
If, on the other hand, you see losing weight for what it is - an attempt to become healthier - then any failure to achieve weight loss will not be tied into your self-esteem as strongly, allowing you to feel OK about yourself and eventually want to try again.
2. For whom you are doing it
Deciding to lose weight for someone other than yourself is a definite no no, and is likely to trigger some of the issues around discipline described above.
The whole point is to make you feel better about yourself: if that better you is defined by anyone other than you, then you'll eventually begin to resent the diet and the person whose idea it was.
3. Don't set yourself up to fail
Starting a diet, and then failing to keep to it, can be just as damaging to the way we feel about our bodies as that flabby tummy. When we embark on a new diet, we need to take into account all the factors that will affect our weight loss - build, height, metabolism and lifestyle all play a part. remember the impact this will have on any diet.
4. Don't go for the quick fix
We want to lose a lot of weight now and we want to keep it off for ever with as little effort as possible. The truth is that quick-fix diets rarely work and when they do they are so drastic that it's hard to adhere to them for long.
What really works is healthier eating and exercising throughout your life, not just for six or eight weeks or whatever the latest diets promise.
5. Don't time travel
One way of thinking is that if we have the 'right body' then we'll get the right life. Our expectations of diets can be so far-fetched that many of us use diets as a form of time travel. As soon as we start one we begin to buy clothes in a smaller size or make travel plans, all to fit the future with a new svelte body.
We do this because we can't wait to see the person the diet is going to allow us to become. But the fact is that by projecting ourselves into the future we don't allow ourselves to focus on the present, thus giving the diet the best chance to work.
See a diet for what it is: a healthy lifestyle change, not something that will transform every aspect of your existence.
Buy new clothes when you need them, make plans that you'll enjoy at any size, validate yourself for the person you are today, not for the person that you hope to be in the future.
6. Make peace with food
Don't see food as the enemy but, likewise, don't see it as some divine experience. Whether we have a weight problem or not, many of us see food as a form of comfort or reward. The only way to get around this is to strike a balance with regard to how we eat and how we think about food.
If you do slip up by having a bar of chocolate, then don't beat yourself up about it - it most likely hasn't done irreparable damage to your diet.
On a mental level, don't make that chocolate bar an object of dread or desire - it's a snack. The more you can take the emotion out of food, the more successful your dieting will be.
7. Because you're worth it
Deal with the issue of discipline by reframing what you think you deserve.
A tub of ice cream may make you feel better in the short term, but it is not addressing the real issue you are trying to deal with - you need a coping strategy other than food. Linking what you eat to how you feel about yourself only reinforces negative beliefs that centre on a conditional acceptance of who you are.
Saying things such as 'I've been a good girl because I've eaten only one piece of toast for breakfast' sends the direct message that we should accept ourselves only if we are restricting our natural instincts. And this is counterproductive.
Our acceptance of who we are should be unconditional, not based on calorie intake or dress size.
It is only when this happens that we will be able to value ourselves enough to eat healthier and to lead a happier, more positive lifestyle.