How many times a week you give up? How often does it just feel too hard to lose weight and keep it off?

Each time you get that sinking feeling, you let go and tuck in. Of course, you'll start again tomorrow.

Blame doesn't help anyone but it certainly doesn't help that we're bombarded with media images of "perfect" women.

They're fictitious, photos that have been touched up, but it doesn't seem like that. The pressure is on.

Hoping you can look like a fashion model isn't helpful but you do need to be able to see yourself in your mind's eye as you could realistically be.

It's said that if you can't imagine yourself how you'd like to be, you won't be able to achieve it. But imagining the impossible won't help you achieve that goal either.

Stage one is to build up a realistic picture of how you want to look. Many people who want to lose weight are very focused on new clothes so allow yourself to daydream about a special new outfit and where you might get it from.

Consider yourself standing at stage A and the image you hold in your mind is stage Z.

The challenge is how to get from A to Z. The answer is: Step by step.

It isn't step by step if, from day one, you decide everything you loved to eat yesterday is now forbidden.

It isn't step by step if yesterday you were a couch potato and today you decide to do two hours of exercise and to keep that up daily.

It isn't step by step if, from today, you decide you'll cook all your meals from scratch when you haven't cooked a meal since the first month of married life.

All of those ambitions have some merit but they all need to be broken down into little chunks that are achievable.

Then you can build day-by-day or week-by-week and it will all seem manageable.

Let's try an example. Start with exercise. This will depend how out of shape you are.

Your chosen exercise may be walking. First of all, make sure you've got some comfortable shoes to walk in.

If you haven't got fancy trainers and can't afford a new pair, don't let that hold you back. It's only an excuse.

Choose your time of day and days of the week - you may start with three times a week and work up.

First thing in the morning is considered better but it doesn't work for everyone.

Plan to walk for 15 minutes each time for a week. In your second week, stick to 15 minutes but slightly increase the speed. You should feel a little puffed but you should still be able to hold a conversation.

Talking of conversations, if you can recruit a walking partner you're more likely to keep up a regular regime.

In your third week, increase to 20 minutes a day.

If you like gadgets, buying yourself a pedometer is fun and challenging. Measure the distance walked each day or the number of steps taken.

Get used to going out, then gradually increase until you reach 30 minutes, four or five times a week.

Another important part of the step-by-step plan is to have an alternative fitness programme for rainy days.

An exercise video is a cheap option or a home-exercise machine if you have one.

Some days you may enjoy the exercise, on others it may be a chore. Keep going whatever.

Step by step, you'll feel better.

Use your mobile phone to lose weight with Dr Citron's No-Diet Diet. Send the message TXTDIET ARG to 89080 (50p per text) and you will receive three tips a week. For other support, freephone 0800 074 0260 or visit the web site at