According to a popular study, America is a nation full of chronically overweight dieters. In 2011, Marketdata, author of the biannual "The U.S. Weight Loss & Diet Control Market" study, found that Americans continue to spend a lot of money on dieting but don't see big results.

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Marketdata found that America has 75 million dieters, each starting an average of four diets each year. The publication also found that 80% of consumers are do-it-yourselfers when it comes to losing weight, often jumping from fad to fad spending more than $61 billion on diet products each year.

If you're going to start a diet (or four) this year, how can you do it in a way that really works? Here are a few ideas. (For additional reading, check out 7 Popular Diet Plans And What They Cost.)

Reduce Your Portions
You don't always need expert advice. You already know that weight loss not only includes doing more exercise but you have to eat less too. If you're going out to eat, ask for a to-go box before you start eating your meal. Put half of your meal in the box before you start eating. This could save you $900 after one year.

Go Ahead and Buy Healthy Food
How many times have you heard that the reason more people don't eat healthy is because the food is more expensive? That's not true, according to the New York Times. The Times points out that a meal for a family of four at McDonald's will cost about $28, while a roasted chicken with salad, veggies and milk will cost around $14 and will serve four to six people. (For related reading, see Eating Healthy On A Budget.)

Your Gym Should Fit You
What is your favorite kind of exercise? Are you a gym rat or do you go when you have an unusually high amount of energy? Of course you know that losing weight requires upping your calorie burn but do you need a high priced gym to do that? For some people, the $70 per month multi-floor gym with space age technology and fitness classes fits their activity level but if you head to the gym only for a treadmill and to count the minutes until it's done, find a cheap, no frills gym. Some basic gyms are $20 per month or less. (For more, read Get The Best Deals On Gym Memberships.)

Don't Dismiss the Trainer
Remember that cheap doesn't necessarily equal value. If you spend $50 per week on a personal trainer, that's $2,600 per year. That's a lot of money, but what if that trainer kept you going to the gym every week for a year and put you on a diet plan that didn't involve high dollar fad diets and specialty foods? If they saved you money in other areas of your dieting, wouldn't the $2,600 be money well spent?

Say No to the Fads
Nutrisystem, one of the most popular do-it-yourself weight loss programs costs $382 per month for the basic plan, which includes food. That's $95 per week or more than $4,500 per year and a year-long online membership to Weight Watchers will cost you $257. If all you need are recipes and ways to keep track of caloric intake, these are widely available online and on your smartphone for free.

The Bottom Line
If you are one of the many Americans who is a do-it-yourself dieter and have seen less than impressive results, consider using 2012 as the year to try something new. Consider replacing the high priced gym and the mail order diet plans with a simpler program like a trainer, more cooking and less fads. We don't need any more programs, we need more willpower. Maybe it's time to move away from do-it-yourself dieting in 2012.

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