Fallen off the wagon? Just jump back on!
You don't have to be a martyr for the rest of your life -- simple changes will help you stay in shape, writes Deirdre Reynolds
You've kept your New Year's Resolution to shape up and your tracksuit has never got this much action, so well done.
But as any yo-yo dieter will admit, shedding the pounds is the easy part. It's keeping them off that'll drive a girl to Dairy Milk.
In today's final part of our fitness series, we discover how to get slim and stay that way.
Statuesque, trim and stylish, Nicola Bleakley (29) hardly looks like a poster girl for fat fighters. But the blonde bombshell from Co Down -- whose sister is TV presenter Christine Bleakley -- has been there, done fat and bought the size-24 T-shirt.
And after shedding an incredible 7st and plummeting six dress sizes, slimmer extraordinaire Nicola confesses it's a daily battle to keep blubber at bay.
"I don't ever want to go back to where I was before," says Nicola, who beat the bulge by joining Unislim. "Everything is easier since I lost the weight.
"Before, I was depressed every single day; now I love my life. I used to go to bed every night with a fizzy drink, bag of crisps and some chocolate; eating healthily comes naturally to me now.
"I still have to think about what I eat to make sure I make the right choices," she adds. "And I haven't had a Yorkie in 10 years, because I know if I have one -- that's it!
"But it's not like a diet any more -- it's a lifestyle."
Having kept your New Year's Resolution to reach your target weight, staying stagnant on the scales is easier than you think.
"The old adage 'Everything in moderation' is true," explains nutritionist Aveen Bannon of The Dublin Nutrition Centre. "Portion control and balance are the key to putting an end to yo-yo dieting for good.
"The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to make small changes to your diet. Choosing a high-fibre breakfast, switching your midday latte to a skinny one and drinking more water."
"Avoid eliminating entire food groups, such as dairy or wheat, because it's neither healthy nor sustainable."
When it comes to exercise, less is more in the long-run.
"People tend to jump in head-long in January and try to workout too much," says sports scientist Bryan Kavanagh of ABS Gym in Temple Bar, Dublin. "But if going to the gym becomes a chore, you'll only end up resenting exercise -- and that's when things start to go pear-shaped.
"Rather than trying to go to the gym five days a week, start off with two and progress from there. Even I don't work out every day of the week.
"It's more important to work smart than hard," he adds. "Get the basic exercise techniques right so you can keep it up yourself at home in the future.
'Once you have a basic level of fitness, talk to your trainer about adjusting your programme to address your different goals.
"But trying to go from being overweight to being super-fit from the get-go is like trying to turn water into wine."
Don't panic if, in February, the scales start to tip precariously in the wrong direction, assures personal trainer Bryan.
"If you notice that you're up a couple of pounds from the previous week, nip it in the bud," he says. "Be strict on yourself for a couple of days until you get back down to your goal weight.
"That doesn't mean you have to be a martyr for the rest of your life.
"It's not going out on the weekends for a meal and a few drinks that causes you to put on those extra pounds. It's the habitual things like having a bad breakfast that we turn a blind eye to.
"There's nothing wrong with cheating every now and then," he adds, "in fact, it keeps your metabolism on its toes. If you fall off the wagon, just pick yourself up and get back on."
And if that doesn't work -- well, there's always 2012.