After years of struggling with fad diets that consistently left me feeling defeated, I was finally able to take off the weight when I realized that I'd been the biggest obstacle to my success. I kept waiting for someone to give me the incentive to actually do it right. Once I realized that I was the only person who could make it happen, I was prepared to take the necessary steps that would lead to success. Having support along the way helped, but the motivation had to come from within.

I began my weight loss journey as a college freshman, which is how my book The Dorm Room Diet came about. By making healthy lifestyle changes—and realizing that the weight loss process was going to be gradual and permanent—I was able to readjust my relationship with food (I'd previously been using it as an emotional crutch) and regain faith in myself along the way.

Almost everyone who successfully loses weight will tell you there were two things that made a difference: (1) They made a commitment to themselves and kept it the way they would any other promise, and (2) they had a strong support network to lean on during the tough times. Weight Watchers is a prime example of a diet plan that incorporates the proven success of having others to push you along (and provide the element of outside guilt we talked about earlier). With mandatory weekly meetings, buddy systems and a regimented system of progress, Weight Watchers encourages its adherents to rely on one another for support and for "punishment" in the event of underperformance.

The most revolutionary element of such programs is perhaps the public weigh-ins where dieters must share their scale reading with a group leader. There is no room for fudging of numbers, and no faking success, when someone else (or many others) are there watching the scale with you. But such a system also develops a crutch: You rely on and require the knowledge that you must answer to someone else to motivate yourself. What happens when that person is no more? Will you ever be able to eat healthfully on your own and with only yourself to answer to?

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