However far you've come on your weight-loss journey, you have plenty to celebrate. Just making one behavioral change takes lots of work and planning, and you've tackled many. You've made plans and put them into action-and anticipated and planned for the inevitable, occasional setback. You've already shown that you have what it takes to maintain this new, healthier lifestyle you've chosen for yourself.

And, while you might be nervous that you're going to become one of those many people who regains the lost weight in short order, there are plenty of reasons why you won't go that way. Here are just a few:

You've done your homework. You've assessed whether you're ready for change, and set realistic short- and long-term goals for yourself.

You've mastered the essential tools that successful weight losers rely on. Self-tracking your eating and activity patterns, and weighing yourself regularly will keep you on track for life.

You've become someone who eats less and moves more. And along the way, you've learned lifelong skills for shopping, cooking and ordering healthy meals and for building and supporting a regular exercise habit.

You've become a problem solver. You've figured out how to keep your eating and exercise goals in sight, despite the unexpected. You've made fall-back plans and default restaurant menu orders, and even learned how to handle saboteurs.

You've learned how to identify problem behaviors and negative thinking, and replace them with healthy attitudes and habits.

You know where to turn for support. You've identified the people and resources in your life that you can call on whenever you need information, direction, inspiration or just a listening ear.

Look back in your food diaries and activity logs, and you'll see that you've accomplished a major turn-around in your thinking and your actions. As your journey continues, you'll keep revising and changing your goals. You can also use EatingWell's diet recipes and menus for a fresh start anytime, or whenever you need inspiration.

Finally, it will pay to remember that weight loss is not the ultimate goal of all you have done and are committed to doing.

Losing pounds, for the many, many thousands who have done it before you, is the door opener to a new life-one with more energy, more vitality and more self-confidence. It is often a precursor to healthier relationships with family, friends and significant others. It can be the key to being able to do new and exciting things-professionally and personally-that you previously avoided.

Getting rid of excess weight is much more than leaving behind physical mass-it lightens your whole emotional load in ways that you may not even have envisioned. The behavioral tools and new habits you've developed will serve to not just keep the scales under control, but also as instruments for helping tune a more harmonious way of life for many years to come. Losing weight is not, of course, a panacea, but for many people, the ongoing sense of empowerment at using their own wits and willpower to look and feel better becomes a cornerstone of their lives.

Here's to your success, now and always!

The EatingWell Diet (2007)