EMMA HOLLINGWORTH: My New Year dieting resolution gets a little unexpected help - a kickstart from swine flu

This time of the year is always a key time for people to start a diet. Many will have made New Year's resolutions a couple of weeks ago while sipping champagne and watching the clock count down to midnight.

And a fortnight later many may well have forgotten or abandoned their resolutions and gone back to their old ways.

I too made this yearly commitment to trimming back. But little did I know that I would get my wish much sooner than intended.

I had imagined that I would have to drag my weary body to the gym in the hope that this would help shift the pounds.

I had even convinced myself to get up even earlier in the morning so I could walk into work instead of getting the bus.

This need to lose weight all came as a result of me trying on my work clothes at the end of last year to see what still fitted me after a year off on maternity leave.

The old clothes that had been abandoned the year before as I expanded to the size of a small sailing boat were dragged out from the back of the wardrobe and dusted off.

Surprisingly most did still fit. But what concerned me was the number of trousers that now seemed to be rather tight around my hips when before they had seemed nice and loose.

With very little money left following a year off to spend on such luxuries as new clothes, I knew more drastic action would have to be taken. It meant losing weight – and fast.

So I had planned that in the new year I would no longer be gorging myself with anything made of pastry. I would ditch the fizzy drinks stuffed with sugar and cut back on my passion for pasta and all things carbohydrate.

I also made a tentative agreement with myself that I would start exercising more. Brisk walks, perhaps even a small run every now and again.

But first I would "treat" myself to a lovely Christmas where I would do nothing but indulge my passion for food and drink and complete lack of exercise.

Little did I know this dream would be cut short after I contracted swine flu and could not eat as I lay ill in my bed over the whole of the Christmas holidays.

But the one good thing which did come out of this episode was the fact I rapidly lost weight.

All my trousers now fit me. In fact some which I had given up hope of ever getting into again now fit.

However, the battle now is not to go back to the bad eating habits and to actually realise my plan of doing more exercise. Already my appetite has returned tenfold, so I really do need to keep it in check.

Luckily Sheffield City Council can help as it has just launched a new strategy to tackle poor diets among residents. The Sheffield Food Plan aims to improve access to healthy foods and affordability and will also help people cook healthier meals. For more information visit: sheffield.gov.uk and to find out more about getting active go to www.sheffield.gov.uk/activitysheffield