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First, find a more inspiring shape-up opponent than your scale. A study from Brown University suggested that weight loss can be contagious and that being part of a team that is slimming down can help you drop pounds, too; the combo of accountability, competition, and encouragement appears to shore up motivation. And you don't need to audition for The Biggest Loser to benefit. In the summer of 2010, twin sisters Nicole and Sam Tracey of Pittsburgh, who were each pushing 300 pounds, made a decision: "We had no reason to be overweight, so we found all the reasons not to be," Nicole, now 22, says. What followed was a "secret, friendly competition" that spurred each of them to lose more than 70 pounds. "If Sam works out 45 minutes one day, I have to match her 45 minutes," Nicole explains. Such a simple tug-of-war trigger has scientific cred. "There's good evidence that when you raise the stakes, it helps ignite your spirit so that you can actually attain a goal," McGonigal says.