If you’ve been wondering how you’re ever going to get rid of those extra pounds you gained over Christmas, here’s the good news. Diets don’t work. Why not? Because people hate diets. Once you crack — and sooner or later everyone does — you take revenge on the hated diet by breaking every rule. And it’s not your imagination, the pounds do go back on faster than they came off.

Have you noticed? Losing weight while dieting seems harder than it should be. Why? Because your body wants to survive. When you suddenly start feeding it less, it figures you’re starving — by accident, not by choice. So it slows down and burns fewer calories than usual, to help you live.

Why is it that with every new diet, it’s tougher to lose weight. Because dieting without exercise eats up muscle, not fat. This slows your metabolism, making it harder to lose the weight and easier to gain it back.

So ditch the diet! It’s bad for your body, and bad for your mind. If you fail, what’s that going to do for your self-esteem?) So how do you lose weight and feel better about yourself at the same time? Here are a few tips:

Take small steps. Don’t swear you’ll never eat anything sweet again. But instead of eating every dessert you take home from a feast, decide on one — one helping of boudin, one piece of cake, a few cookies — and give the rest to your family. Or choose to have mashed potatoes instead of french fries with dinner. Or eat dessert twice a week instead of every day. Or learn to like coffee without milk and sugar. It all adds up.

Expect setbacks. You’re not going to stick
to every good intention, and that’s okay. If you can’t stop yourself from digging into chips, don’t eat the whole bag – put some in a bowl and only have those. Enjoy some of what you want, just don’t go overboard. Do it with a friend (or your husband, or wife). You can go on walks together instead of sitting in front of the TV. You can help each other through tough times. You can tell your partner how terrific (or slim, or sexy) they look now. And isn’t it easier when you know someone else is going through the same thing?