Take it from women all across this great country. Diets do not work! And if diets do not work, what does?

Is it diet plans, diet drinks, diet pills, low-calorie meals, fat-free meals, skipping meals or food deprivation? No, these are not the answers, either. Once the diet ends, the weight comes back, almost instantaneously.

Let’s think about food deprivation and see why it does not work. Each individual has a weakness, whether it is chocolate, caffeine, fried foods or carbohydrates. And denying one’s self the luxury of these food items only causes one to want them more. So the next time Joe, down the street, goes out to eat with the guys, instead of having one helping of fried chicken, he has two. And the next time Susan goes to the grocery store, instead of one candy bar, she eats the whole bag. Don’t think it’s true? Watch what happens the next time you deny yourself your favorite “bad” food.

So, if denying one’s self these so-called “bad foods” is not the answer than what is? Simply put, a willing mind, exercise and the end of “go big, super sized, doubled, or what have you.”

No one can lose weight if his or her mind is not in it. One has to really want to lose the weight and want to keep it off. Without a willing mind, even the best of intentions fail. And the idea of losing weight becomes just one more dreaded chore.

Exercise comes into play because the body needs some way to burn away those extra pounds. Without exercise, your body will automatically store up that extra fat, causing more weight gain.

So how does one find time to exercise? Here are a few examples:

1. While at work: Walk during your 10- minute breaks.

2. When shopping: Park toward the back of the parking lot and walk a few extra feet. When at home: Take the kids roller-skating, for a bike ride, a nature walk, a game of tennis, basketball or football.

Start a nightly ritual of taking a brisk walk around the block after dinner. Walk the treadmill or ride a stationary bike while watching your favorite television program. Get to know a neighbor better by taking a morning walk together.