© Darren Baker - Fotolia.com

About six years ago, I lost 25 pounds. It was something I had wanted to do for a while, and I finally bit the bullet and joined Weight Watchers. It was hard work, but it only took five or six months and I was able to keep it off.

I loved the Weight Watchers program, but I’ll be honest, that was not the key to my success. I was successful because I didn’t do it alone—I had a friend right by my side the whole time. A good friend and co-worker decided to embark on her weight-loss journey at the same time I did, and I’ll tell you what—the buddy system WORKS.

If you are about to start a diet or exercise program, I highly recommend finding a friend to join you. Here’s why:

  1. Accountability: Anytime you’re thinking about skipping a weigh in or having dessert, you have your buddy to answer to! Not only will you tell each other all about how your eating/exercise went for the day, you’ll hopefully get a little friendly competition going, too.
  2. Food Ideas: After your hundredth salad of the week, you are going to be ready to order a cheeseburger and call it quits. My friend and I swapped recipes and tricks all the time, which helped break up the monotony of a diet and expand our horizons.
  3. Exercise Buddy: Every day on our lunch hour, my friend and I would spend 45 minutes power walking around our office park. This extra little burst of exercise in the middle of the day also gave our weight loss an extra boost—and it’s something I never would have done by myself!
  4. A Cheerleader: When one of us had a good weigh in, we were always each other’s best cheerleaders. Nobody knows how hard you work better than the person who is in the trenches with you.
  5. A Sympathetic Ear: On the flip side, when you have have a weigh in that doesn’t go so well, nobody will be more sympathetic than your buddy who maybe didn’t have such a great weigh in last week. She knows how it feels and also knows how to keep you on track and looking at the bigger picture.

The next year, after my friend and I reached our weight-loss goals, we set a new goal—to run a half marathon. And with the buddy system, we did it!