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A Different Kind of Diet—A Commentary by Ian Ayres ’86

The following commentary was posted on Forbes.com on January 2, 2011.

A Different Kind of Diet
By Ian Ayres ’86

Just in time for New Year’s Resolutions, here’s a guide to make weight loss resolutions stickK. It’s The $500 Diet and for a limited time you can read it for free.

Most diet books are written by physicians and scientists, but The $500 Diet is my attempt to give economics and contract law a chance to change how much you want to eat. It’s a seven-step plan to strengthen your resolve – to help you make credible New Year’s resolutions.

Would you rather lose a pound next week or $500?

Most people given the choice would find it pretty easy to take off a pound. That’s the first step. Now repeat as necessary.

Of course, not every one can afford to put $500 at risk. But anybody can afford to risk 10 or 20 percent of their disposable income – some amount that is large enough to get your attention. The booklet shows you how to use stickK.com’s layers of accountability to craft a diet that will strengthen your resolve.

Most diet books obsess about what you should put in your mouth. But information is not the problem. You already know that to lose weight you need to eat a bit less or exercise a bit more. The $500 Diet is a different kind of diet plan, because it doesn’t tell you how much to eat or exercise. You are smart enough—with the help of the Internet and dozens of dieting books—to figure that out. What’s unique about The $500 Diet is that it works on another dimension. It lets you set your own incentives to lose weight.

I expect that some of my colleagues will give me grief about publishing a diet booklet. But I’m participating in a larger trend of law professors breaking the boundaries of law review writing. My colleagues Jed Rubenfeld and Stephen Carter have written murder mysteries (see, e.g., The Death Instinct and The Emperor of Ocean Park). My colleague, Amy Chua, is about to publish an amazing book on parenting, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. It turns out I’m not even the first law professor to write a diet book. Susan Estrich beat me to the punch more than a decade ago with Making The Case for Yourself. The centre cannot hold.