Even though we live in a tell-all culture, you'd prefer to keep your weight-loss plans to yourself. "Telling friends, family, and coworkers invites them to monitor your progress, which feels like added pressure to you," says Dr. Daniel Stettner, a clinical weight-loss psychologist in Berkley, Michigan. In addition, keeping your plans a secret saves you from any potential embarrassment if you fail to reach your goal within a specific time frame.
While such self-reliance provides a safe haven and can help you focus, going it alone isn't easy. "Making weight loss public also tends to increase commitment," says Dr. Daniel Kirschenbaum, director of the Center for Behavioral Medicine in Chicago. In fact, a recent University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study found that those who involved friends or family in their plans lost more weight and kept it off longer than those who tried to shed pounds solo. Without that public declaration and subsequent affirmation from your peers, you'll have to be more clever at cultivating your personal support system.
Find some form of support that feels good to you. That could mean joining an online dieting group, where you can hide behind a user name, or seeking out a registered dietitian in your area for private one-on-one counseling. If you've got a trusted friend who also wants to lose weight, consider forming an alliance that's just between the two of you.
"Having a select group of supporters can keep you accountable and motivated without making you feel too exposed," says Dr. Kirschenbaum. "If your plan runs into a snag, your support system can brainstorm about the changes you might make and even reignite your resolve during difficult periods like a plateau."
Implement proven, structured weight-loss techniques that don't depend on other people. Maintain a food and exercise diary, writing down specific goals for tomorrow. Then chart your progress. You can also wear a pedometer and gradually increase your step requirement each day. "These will help strengthen your sense of personal accountability in the absence of an extensive support system," says Dr. Kirschenbaum.
Set more process-driven goals, such as eating fruit for every snack, instead of end-result goals, such as losing 10 pounds by a particular day. "Process-driven goals are usually easier to achieve because they focus on one step toward a result that can take months to achieve," explains Dr. Kirschenbaum. "That gives you many individual opportunities to celebrate personal achievement, which can keep you motivated."