I'd like to recommend the following attitude to life: "Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first". That may surprise you but it is very relevant to dieting.

It's at about this time of the year - a few weeks into a new year - that so many people begin to fail on their New Year's resolutions, particularly the one that said: "I must lose weight".

Why the high failure rate?

It is probably because all dieters start off with great intentions to be perfect.

They probably choose a very restrictive regime that tells them they mustn't have any chocolate or ice cream or pizza until they reach their goal weight.

They also set themselves targets that are unrealistic. To attempt to lose any more than one or two pounds a week won't work in the long run.

So, of course, after a very few weeks they get fed up (excuse the pun). The weight loss slows down or stops and they feel deprived and sorry for themselves.

The upshot is, they give up and very soon go on the rampage to make up for lost time. Before long, they've probably put on more weight than they lost.

This is the typical sorry tale of the yo-yo dieter that you probably recognise only too well.

Now, perhaps, you'll begin to see the relevance of the approach: "If something is worth doing, it's worth doing badly at first".

Instead of starting off expecting to be perfect - no this, no that and none of the other - you should start by working on changing some habits.

Not all habits in one go but one habit at a time.

Here's an example: Challenge yourself to try not to eat standing up. That will prevent you from eating while you're cooking or while you're out shopping.

Throw in for good measure that you don't snack in the car, either. You probably won't be perfect at the beginning but you'll improve over time.

Yes, you'll fail every now and then but it's worth working on. It's worth failing a few times because it will lead you to greater awareness and gradually to long-term success.

Now, unlike the quick-fix diet you plan for a short period of time, this new rule is for life.

With the quick-fix diet, you have no long-term plan - it doesn't lead you to normality. It takes you further into abnormality.

If, instead, you focus one-by-one on poor habits that need changing, you can still eat the food you like but now with thought and planning rather than grabbing almost without awareness.

Think about your own eating habits. How much less would you eat every day if you didn't eat standing up?

I'm prepared to bet you could lose a half-a-pound a week every week even if you made no other change whatsoever to your eating habits.

Try it and see what happens. Even if you do it badly at first, you'll learn how to do it well in the end.

Remember learning to drive? You probably did that very poorly at first but it was worth persevering.

You can get support from Dr Judy Citron and her team of DietCoaches by joining her telephone weight-loss classes, right from your own home. "You lose weight and you're not on a diet. It's amazing." Phone free for more information on 0800 074 0260 or visit the web site at www.thedietcoach.com