It’s an annual thing with me, still going strong after more years than I care to admit. Yet another January shows up with me munching on celery, lifting weights, and walking a couple of miles every day. And every year I start out with greater determination and a few pounds heavier than the year before.

Ah, for the good old days of my mother nagging me to eat something because I was nothing but “skin and bones.” Ah, for the day I had to have my size 7 wedding gown taken in.

Yesterday I worked out and lifted weights with Jane Fonda, shoveled snow off the deck, and consumed a tiny bit of tomato soup (made with water, not milk). In the evening my efforts found me weak in the knees and bleary eyed from a raging diet headache.

It all started during the two years I lived in Germany at the beginning of my marriage. The beer was cheap, the food was starchy and we had no scale. And there were those two pregnancies.

Now, each January I assess the damage from the year before and vow to get out of whatever horribly heavy poundage I’m carrying at the time. I can remember bemoaning the fact that I couldn’t get below 118. The next year it was 122, and so on.

If there was diet bandwagon around, I jumped on it. I ate mountains grapefruit and tons of water-packed tuna. I did the Atkins diet when it first came out 30 or so years ago and lost 10 quick ones just before putting on 12 even quicker ones. There’s something wrong with consuming that much fat, Mad Cow not withstanding. I tried the super healthy diet that eliminated fat, salt, sugar, starch, meat, fish, and chocolate and concentrated mostly on bean sprouts. I forget the official name but I call it the “Total Boredom” diet. I even tried high protein shakes laced with chocolate flavor: no weight loss at all.

I did find one quick way to lose was a nice short-term low-grade fever. Arising from my bed of pain after having the flu, I was downright joyful to have lost 6 pounds. I put it back on as soon as I was well.

Then there is the totally false theory that exercise will make you lose weight. It may make you healthier but the pounds, on me anyway, just become more solid.

I have exercised with TV shows, videotapes, aerobics classes and ballet classes. I have walked, run, skipped and jogged. I joined a health club where one had to get in shape before ever showing up if one realized she would be walking around in a leotard with a bunch of goddesses.

And, of course, there’s the water theory. Who among us hasn’t been lulled into the belief that the more water you drink, the more weight you lose. At a certain older age, this practice becomes highly impractical. In order to reap the full benefits of this method, one needs to plan one’s life around accessibility to restrooms. It also calls for never, never sleeping more than a few hours at a time.

I once knew a guy who never ate on Tuesdays. He had a ton of energy and looked fabulous! I should try that.

So here we are again, with a trip to Florida looming. Last year we reasoned that we would go for long walks every day on the beach because it wouldn’t be so blinkin’ cold. We neglected to take into account the fried food and ice cream vendors that line up along the boardwalk, ready to force food on you at every step. At the end of this visit we usually decide that as soon as we get back to good old Vermont where it’s not so blinkin’ hot, we’ll start walking miles every day and get into shape for the summer.