KATHY MITCHELL AND MARCY SUGAR \ Annie's Mailbox Set realistic, healthy goals for weight loss

Dear Annie: As a faithful and devoted reader, I think I deserve some advice, not to sound too bossy or anything. Anyway, since everyone makes up names in this column, I'm going to do it, too.
Hi! My name is Lynetta Rainbow Couchpotato. I'm 16, and I love to eat. I'm not overweight or anything, but I'm definitely not the perfect size 2, if you know what I mean. Sometimes I can be quite active, but it is so hard to find the motivation to get out there and lose some calories.
Whenever I make up my mind that I am going to do something, I always end up not doing it. For instance, at my school we have a voluntary weight/conditioning class early in the morning. At bedtime, I'll be like, "OK, I'm gonna go," and then when my alarm goes off at 6, I am too tired, and I go back to sleep. I'm hopeless!
It is also nearly impossible to eat healthy. So my question is, how can I become motivated to lose weight? And how can I say no to unhealthy foods? Thanks. My size depends on your advice. D.T.
Dear Lynetta Rainbow Couchpotato (we love your name): Your size depends on you, and your goal should be health, not weight.
Eating healthy is not hard, but you will need your parents' assistance to get the junk food out of the house. You can eat almost anything else, in moderation. Stock up on easy-to-grab snacks like yogurt, fruit, cheese, cut-up veggies, even peanut butter, and if you're desperate, a handful of pretzels or nuts. Drink a lot of water.
Then find some form of exercise that interests you enough to stick. Don't set goals you cannot keep (like waking up at 6 a.m.). Can you try out for the school volleyball, softball or basketball team? Does your video arcade have a dance game? Does the park district offer kickboxing or swimming? Will your mom bike with you? Does Dad jog? Do your friends lift weights?
Start now, because it becomes more difficult as you get older (we speak from experience). It will help to enlist a friend to work out with you, and then you can motivate each other. Let us know how it goes.
Dear Annie: My 9-year-old niece, "Becca," has had elegant, elaborate birthday parties since she was a baby. Every year, her mother (my sister-in-law) works for weeks in advance to rent a space and hire entertainment for a child who has grown accustomed to these affairs.
The whole family is getting tired of these ostentatious parties. We all love Becca, but we dread these festivities every year. What should we do? Sick of It
Dear Sick of It: We think it's only once a year and you ought to suck it up and go. But if you really can't stand these parties, it's fine to reply to the invitation, "So sorry, but we have other plans that day." Then make sure you do.
Dear Annie: This is in response to "Where Am I From?" who discovered late in life that the man he thought was his father wasn't.
As an adult, I was told that the man whose name was on my birth certificate, was, in fact, not my father. I, too, felt as if I'd been kicked in the teeth and my whole life was a lie. Then I realized something that gave me a new perspective: Those lies were told to protect me. During that era, it was a terrible thing to have a child out of wedlock. Either the mother and child became outcasts, or the child was put up for adoption.
I consider myself blessed to have had a mother who loved me so much. Have Walked in the Same Shoes
Dear Walked: You've put the right spin on the situation. Thank you.
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