This is an easy one: lose weight. How many people set that goal every year? The majority of resolvers, I'll bet. I was watching TV the other day, something on HGTV no doubt, when Valerie Bertinelli popped up with her new Jenny Craig body. OMG. I was practically reaching for the phone, y'all!

Valerie looks awesome. She's 47 and she looks amazing. I want to be that thin again. I held off calling Jenny, but it's in the back of my mind should I fail on my own. Now, I know that losing weight is difficult, and programs like that really work because they portion out your meals and take all the planning away from you. But I've lost the weight on my own once before (and I've lost it on NutriSystem) and I know I can do it again.

I sound like a yo-yo dieter, don't I? I'm not, though. I've been overweight twice before and I've lost it both times. This is the third time in my 40 years I've let it creep up on me. Not exactly a yo-yo, but a pain in the butt nevertheless.

When I was 20, I needed a program. Lost 40lbs on NutriSystem and kept it off for 12 years. Then I did Body for Life with the hubby, which taught me how to eat and work out. Lost the 25 lbs I'd let creep back on. Now, I need to lose 30lbs. I gained this weight while not exercising and eating all this great Southern food. I knew it was happening, and I let it happen, and I'm not happy with myself about that.

So, I'm back to doing it myself by planning my meals, avoiding the bad stuff (except for one day a week), and exercising regularly. I know how to do this. If I decide I need Jenny, then it's because I'm not sticking to my plan well enough on my own. And that's a possibility, but I'd really rather do it myself. It's cheaper, first of all. It puts me in control, second.

Here are my diet tips if you're contemplating such a thing for yourself. I offer this as someone who's succeeded in the past. I'm not an expert, but this worked for me.

1. If it's man-made, don't eat it if you can help it. I make an exception for Kashi cereal. And, in this go-round, for Lean Cuisine. Avoid the center aisles of the grocery store like the plague. No chips, no sodas, no cookies, no rice cakes, no boxes of stuffing mix or macaroni and cheese.

2. Don't eat seconds.

3. Portion control. A portion of something is the size of your fist or your open palm.

4. Protein/carb balance. Don't eat tons of carbs (pasta, bread), and don't avoid meat (if you aren't a vegetarian, I mean). Get a balance at every meal. For example, a snack I like is a stick of cheese (protein) and a yogurt (carbs).

5. Small meals throughout the day. I like six over all (and this includes the cheese and yogurt snacks).

6. 20 to 30 minutes of exercise 6 days a week. Get your heart rate up and keep it up. Don't kill yourself, and don't think you're going to jog for an hour on the treadmill. And don't forget that working out with weights also keeps your heart rate moving. You will not get big man muscles if you use weights. Trust me. I've bench pressed 100 lbs at my best and never looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger. 🙂

Other small tips to consider — don't deny yourself. If you really, really want a slice of pizza, eat it. So long as you don't eat the whole thing, and so long as you don't stray every single day, you can reward yourself from time to time. I like one day a week to eat what I want without recriminations. Also, if you're a drinker like me (love my wine!), cut it back to two or three times a week instead of a glass a night. Most importantly, everything in moderation. 🙂

I'm not saying how much I weigh, but I'd like to lose 30lbs. I lost 3 before the cruise and gained it all back onboard. *sigh* Goal for next week: 2 lbs. I'll let you know…..