The first time I tried Weight Watchers, the U.S.’s most popular weight-loss program, I couldn’t handle the upheaval of anew job and go cold turkey on the Ho-Hos and Häagen-Dazs.

More recently, I made a second attempt, steering clear of junk food the first week. By the second meeting, I was frustrated about having dropped a measly three pounds. But at my third meeting, I met my new “shero,” a sister named Pam who lost 47 pounds in five months.

“I tried every diet in the book,” says Pam, 42, a  secretary for a financial firm. At 372 pounds, she says, “I could barely move. I couldn’t breathe.” But Weight Watchers offered the flexibility she needed, with two diet plans—Flex and Core. Flex, Pam’s choice, allows you to eat whatever you want as long as you stay within a certain number of “points.” With Core, you can eat plenty of unprocessed food (like vegetables) and splurge a small number of “points” on items like pizza or yogurt.

Pam credits her success to the weekly group support and accountability she gets at Weight Watchers meetings. She also exercises, doing everything from Tae Bo (cardio and martial arts moves)to Richard Simmons. “I’m praying for strength every day,” she says. “I think this time I’ve finally got it.”

Pam truly inspired me. Now, I look to fellow group members for support, and I’ve started exercising. Eating to deal with stress is still an issue for me. But I think the meetings—and that dreaded scale—will help me stay on the weight-loss wagon.