So you've kicked off your get-back-into-shape regimin for the new year, with the hope of being able to go out in public in a bathing suit this summer. But you still want to be able to eat out and have a social life. Here are some tips.

Researchers at the University Of Texas (www.MSNBC.com) studied women who were trying to lose weight -- and figured out what the successful ones did to shed the fat, especially when dining out at a restaurant. Here are the specific tips the researchers offer:

1. Before ordering, research calorie counts. (I have found that this is more easily done if you can get the restaurant's menu online at home before you leave so that you're prepared for what to order. Or this is where the restaurants that post calorie counts right on the menu can come in handy.)

2. Before eating even one bite of your food, box up half of your meal to bring home. (Although even getting it to my refrigerator without another bite or two can be too tempting!)

3. Budget your calories. If you know you're going to be going out to dinner, eat a lighter meal for lunch, but don't skip a meal because then you might over-eat later.

4. Pay attention to what you're eating and enjoy the experience. Try to chew slowly and savor it.

5. (I love this one!) Avoid "unloved" calories. Do you really enjoy eating cold fries? Or the bread that comes to the table? Skip food you feel neutral about.

6. Order salad dressings, sauces and gravy on the side. That way you control how much you put on your food.