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Pair Up to Pare Down

Your buddies can also be a good influence. Research shows that when dieters embark on a healthy eating program with a friend, they're more likely to stick with it. We asked Kenneth Schwarz, Ph.D., a psychologist in Sharon, Connecticut, how you and your pal can pool your willpower.

ENLIST A LIKE-MINDED ALLY
Choose a workout partner who has a similar goal, whether it's to drop 10 pounds or train for a 10k. "Someone whose strengths complement yours can also help," says Schwarz. If you can't find time for the gym, for example, a super-organized friend could help you set a schedule.

OUTLINE ALL OF YOUR EXPECTATIONS
Do you want to work out together every day, or just touch base by phone each week? Figuring out what works for you both at the outset will prevent miscommunication, which can lead to hurt feelings or arguments and ultimately disrupt your progress.

CHECK IN AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK
Regular phone or e-mail sessions with your partner allow you to discuss your progress and even swap notes from your food journals. "She can serve as a critical eye and point out where you tend to slip up," says Schwarz. "You can also share recipes and snack ideas."

ENCOURAGE EACH OTHER
A friend can give you perspective. If you freak out when you gain a pound, for instance, she may remind you that weight fluctuations are normal or point out what you've already accomplished.

CELEBRATE SUCCESSES
"Set small, doable goals, such as dropping a size or running a mile without stopping, and reward yourselves with a non-food treat, like a pedicure or a movie, once you've made them," says Schwarz. "It will help make your weight-loss journey more fun."

Find an exercise partner near you at friendsworkout.com.

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