Gaining a few extra pounds is part of life, but half of women feel so embarrassed by it, they don’t want to get undressed in front of their partner, according to a new study, while more than a third were put off having sex altogether.

Most women (76%) feel ashamed or embarrassed by their weight gain and 74% put it ahead of family, money and career as their biggest worry, the survey by Ramsay Health Care UK found.

Here, Ramsay’s dietician Nichola Whitehead offers her tips for losing weight in a healthy, realistic and fuss-free way…

1. Establish your weight loss goal and stay accountable

Think of the reasons you want to lose weight and then write them down. Keep a diary so you can document your progress. In times of weakness, you can then remind yourself of the bigger picture and strengthen your resolve to stay on track.

2. Start with an achievable goal

Don’t set yourself the immediate goal of reaching your target weight. Set yourself daily and weekly tasks so that as you meet them, you can chart your progress and remain motivated. Start off small and build yourself up.

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3. Plan ahead

Many people slip back into the habit of picking up unhealthy snacks when they are short on time. Pre-plan meals, make your lunch the night before and arm yourself with healthy snacks so you are never caught short or tempted.

4. Visualise yourself how you want to be

When you feel your willpower breaking, conjure up a mental picture of yourself at your goal weight. Research has shown that positive visual motivation can help keep you focused on your goal.

5. Check in with someone

Let your friends and family know about your weight loss goal. This will give you added support and help them to ensure social activities won’t jeopardise or impact your weight loss.

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6. Drink more water

People sometimes confuse thirst with hunger. You can end up consuming extra calories when a glass of water is really what you need. You should aim to drink about six to eight glasses (1.2 litres) of fluid, preferably water, every day – or more if it's warm or you're exercising.

7. Cut down on alcohol

Did you know that a standard glass of wine can contain as many calories as a piece of chocolate, and a pint of lager has about the same calorie count as a packet of crisps? Over time, drinking too much can easily contribute to weight gain.

8. Exercise with a friend

Not only can this be more fun, but it helps you to stay committed as you won’t want to let the side down.

9. Invest in classes

Found a fitness class that you like? Buy a few classes up front so that you are financially committed and will be more inclined to continue attending.

10. Don’t be too hard on yourself

Weight loss is a journey. If you slip up, pick yourself back up and get back onto your weight loss plan. Set out monthly or bi-monthly targets and reward yourself when you reach them with an activity you love doing, or invest in some ‘me time’.

What are you top tips for losing weight? Tell us in the comments box below