When diet changes are part of a persistent lifestyle modification, many people lose weight and keep it off over the long haul.

London - My guilty secret arrived this week. After I had unpacked it quickly I hid it under the wardrobe, where it’s safe from the children (no one ever goes there, not after the giant spider sighting...)

I fear I have committed a million motherhood crimes in bringing this thing into the house, but drastic action had to be taken after I saw interior designer Linda Barker in a bikini on telly.

The woman is 51. She looked amazing on Splash! on Saturday night. Slim and healthy. I want some of that, I thought, reluctantly putting my Hobnob back in the biscuit tin.

I am nearly 45 and after four pregnancies (the last of which saw me reach Brontosaurus-like proportions) my middle is less waist and more laid to waste. This kind of thing may not bother you, but frankly I find it a little depressing.

I don’t care that I am now the heaviest I have ever been, but I do care about squeezing a few more years out of my future self. To do that, all the advice says “shape up”.

Nowhere have I read that a silhouette resembling a female kangaroo carrying triplets in her pouch will prolong my life span. And as my youngest, Mabel, aged 20 months, won’t leave home until I am about 65, I want to ensure I’m not mistaken for a roly-poly relative with a comfort food addiction when I drop her at college/the Olympic village/therapy in years to come.

Which is why I bought the scales. I am a goal-orientated person - I need a target, a way to measure the new healthy eating plan. Scales are the most effective instrument to monitor a biscuit reduction programme.

I have never owned a set before, but as I stepped on them I was suddenly struck with a terrible parenting thought. Oh my God, I murmured, what have I done? Which is why I then hid them.

Three daughters, a set of scales and a calorie-counting mom? Lordy, it’s the perfect storm to create those tricky “teenager versus food” dilemmas, isn’t it?

Being a mom makes you about as paranoid as it’s possible to get when it comes to accidentally setting off an emotional flip switch in your children. “One minute it’s Haribo, the next it’s heroin”, is the usual pattern of illogical maternal over-thinking.

The girls must never see these scales, I vowed out loud, before looking down and registering the enormity of my problem. How many stone? That can’t be right? Maybe my head is particularly heavy? Obviously I don’t want my girls to ever worry about their weight. I don’t want anyone to label them “too fat” or “too thin”. I want them to be happy with their bodies, and I don’t want to be to blame if they are not.

It’s an emotional and physical minefield. I should probably throw the scales out immediately and revert to measuring my planned cheese deprivation by trying on the pre-children jeans I keep as a reminder of less weighty days.

But I am only human, and, let’s face it, we’re all bound to make mistakes in the peculiarly difficult experiment that is creating adults from scratch - adults you want to be healthier, happier versions of yourself.

My girls catch me on the scales in my underwear a few days later; it turns out that even though nine and ten-year-olds demand excessive privacy in all their shenanigans they don’t return the favour, bursting in on you in the same carefree manner as the toddler.

“I am trying to remove this wobbly bit round the middle,” I tell the trio as they stand at the bedroom door, “so I live longer. It’s why I went jogging and only had one Rich Tea with breakfast.”

They are completely disinterested, sighing in a bored pre-teen way. Gracie-in-the-middle looks at me with a grin and repeats her favourite phrase from Dork Diaries, the book she’s currently reading: “Mom, cry me a river, build a bridge and get over it.” Then she heads off in search of nail varnish. The toddler points before practising her favourite new word: “Pants”.

Well said ladies, well said. - Daily Mail

* Lorraine Candy is editor-in-chief of Elle magazine