You look at yourself in the mirror, there’s no doubt about it, you need to lose weight. It’s time for a change in mental attitude. You can fiddle about with your diet but ultimately it will be your mental attitude that carries you through.

Lose weight for yourself. Others may encourage you but ultimately it’s down to you. Formulate your own ‘brain plan’ and write it all down. Map out the next few months, mark out target weights, days off from your diet, and rewards for progress. Try to find a goal for your weight loss program, such as a summer holiday, wedding, or similar event to aim for, with a treat such as a new outfit to look forward to.

We all know what we have to do, cut down the calories, and exercise more but a few tips won’t hurt. Read labels carefully. Don’t forget that reduced fat isn’t always low fat. A reduced-fat product may only have 25 percent less fat than a full-fat one, but a truly low-fat food will contain less than three percent fat. Always compare a ‘lose weight’ product with a similar non-diet one. In some cases the calorie saving isn’t actually that great because there’s more of another ingredient, for example, sugar, to compensate for reduced fat. Don’t let diet foods replace those that are naturally healthy and low in fat, such as fruits, vegetables, high-fiber bread and cereals, lean, unprocessed meats, and fish and skimmed milk.

You want sustained weight loss. Don’t be tempted by crash or fad diets, you’ll never be able to maintain the momentum. Weigh yourself each week. Do not be worried about small daily changes in your weight. You should not lose more than 1 to 2 pounds a week. There may be weeks when you do not lose weight. This is normal. But, stay on your diet and you will again start to lose weight. When eating out, consider the calories in each food. Avoid deep-fried and battered foods including chips, rich creamy sauces, and fat-laden pastry dishes. Instead, go for high carbohydrate options such as rice and pasta dishes that fill you up faster. Remember you don’t have to eat all three courses — give the starter or dessert a miss. Alternatively, stick to two starters. Beware the little extras that can have a big effect on your waistline. Say no to butter on bread or vegetables, cream on puddings, and in coffee. And give the after-dinner chocolates a miss. Onset menus avoid the cheese board and go for fruit instead. Choose grilled, poached, steamed, braised, or baked dishes rather than fried. Pile your plate with vegetables and salad. When you want to lose weight, watch what you drink. Fruit juice sounds healthy but it’s full of calories. Try to cut down on alcohol. Most drinks are high in calories. Instead, drink 6 or 7 glasses of water each day.

What you should be aiming for is a subtle change to your lifestyle that banishes the fatty foods and replaces them by equally appetizing healthy foods — take your time over dieting, with a bit more exercise and a few fewer calories, you’ll see the weight beginning to come off, and more importantly, stay off.