That skinny, bikini-clad celeb taped to your fridge is probably working against you. When Dutch researchers gave 42 women in a weight-loss program a food journal to fill out, those whose journals sported a picture of a "normal" weight model on the cover lost weight while those with a picture of a super-skinny model didn’t. "Constant exposure to a very skinny model gives dieters the feeling that they won’t be able to reach their goal," says lead researcher Anne Klesse, assistant professor of marketing at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. "If they think they can’t reach their goal, it might seem worthless to try."
A smarter strategy: Use a picture of yourself when you were at a healthy weight—or pick a realistic role model—for inspiration.