Seek out others with similar goals
courtesy Kate McGinty
Newsroom editor Kate McGinty, 33, of Cincinnati, OH, found success in dropping weight—74 pounds, to be exact—by participating in a private accountability group on Facebook. Group members all started the same workout program—21-Day Fix, which they could do in their living rooms for just 30 minutes a day—and committed to checking in with each other on the platform every day. "The accountability was a huge help. I wasn't alone. Having the support group means having people to celebrate with you, cheer you, relate to you, and hold you accountable," she says.
Follow McGinty's journey on Instagram @kjmcginty.
Adopt the right mindset
courtesy @myadventuretofit For 26-year-old Tiffany Elizabeth of Clearwater, FL, changing her expectations made all the difference. In the past, she felt dieting wasn't worth it if she couldn't lose at least a pound a day, she says. "This time, I decided I needed to make a lifestyle out of it." This meant permanently cutting out all her favorite foods: bread, pasta, cake, donuts. To resist temptation, she decided to eliminate gluten and dairy. "When you get rid of those foods, you're down to a much shorter list and it actually makes it a lot easier." (These are the gluten-free foods nutritionists love.)
She's lost 84 pounds and hoping to drop 10 to 15 more. "Don't make a temporary change—that doesn't work! If you want to see results, you need to change your lifestyle," she says.
Don't view food as the enemy
Katarzyna W., 23, from Gniezno, Poland, worked out with fitness DVDs and then with a personal trainer to shed 30 pounds. But the most valuable strategy was learning how to have a healthy relationship with food, she says. Her key: Don't deprive yourself. "No starvation diet, it's so stupid. After eating nothing, you eat more than you need and don't have energy," she says. "Don't be afraid to go out with friends or eat sweets every so often. Balance in life is super important."
Follow her on Instagram at @catherine_khw.
Set realistic goals and reward yourself
courtesy @ellipticalifragilisticWhile Kristina Guice calorie counted and exercised, she found that setting small, achievable goals for herself is what helped the most. "Thinking 'I need to lose 50 pounds' is so daunting," says the 26-year-old who lives in Tucson, AZ. "Breaking that up into small milestones of five or so pounds helps a lot." She shed 103 pounds in all, and she rewarded herself for hitting each small goal: new jeans, a manicure, or workout equipment or accessories. "The rewards helped keep me focused and on track."
Content continues below ad
Find a higher intensity
courtesy David AishouDavid Aishou, 19, of Chicago, Illinois, has come a long way from the 270-pound 14-year-old who hated looking in the mirror. He credits high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for his transformation. Alternating short bursts of all-out effort with short periods of active recovery exercises, he burned calories, blasted fat, and shed inches fast. "That first week was one of the hardest weeks of my life, but I never regret it one bit because my life is now so much better," he says.
(Check out how HIIT can be an anti-aging tool.)
Follow his health and fitness journey on Instagram at @iamdavidaishoufit.
Play with your food
courtesy @itsthehealthylifeThere's no longer such thing as a cookie-cutter diet, discovered 21-year-old Alexandra Orr, of Philadelphia, PA. She tried Arbonne, a health and wellness company steered her toward a surprising eating plan. She cut out dairy and gluten and quickly lost 15 pounds; what's more, her chronic bloating dissipated and she gained more energy, clearer skin, and a better mood. "I decided to keep using their products, eating clean, and working out," she says. "Within three months I was down 50 pounds! Everyone's body is different and accepts different foods in a different way. Listening to your body is so important because it will get you to your goals."
Learn more about Orr's journey on Instagram: @itsthehealthylife.
Set a routine that works for you
The first regimen Michel Taylor, 25, of Austin, TX, tried didn't stick: She planned to go to the gym twice a week, but found it wasn't enough. "I fell into my routine of going to work and then going to the gym. My body craved the movement and gym time allowed me to de-stress from work," she says.
Incorporating weight lifting and cardio, Taylor dropped 40 pounds and went from 32 percent body fat to 19 percent. She also no longer needs to rely on medication for sleep, depression, or anxiety.
Follow her on Instagram at @mishamai.
Go easy on yourself
courtesy @laurenn.mudd Juggling two young children and postpartum depression has made shedding pounds a challenge for Lauren Mudd, 33, of Spotsylvania, VA. Still, Mudd is happy with the progress she's made and knows she'll lose the last 10 pounds to make it to her goal weight. Once a week she allows herself to give in to a craving or two. "That way, I don't feel deprived," she says. "I'll indulge in wine or a cocktail here or there—after all, I'm a mom of two children under the age of three!" And, she doesn't beat herself up if she backslides. "There are some weeks where I don't eat healthy or work out at all. The most important thing to realize is that this is a journey, not a race," she says.
Get inspired by following her Instagram at @laurenn.mudd.
Content continues below ad
You have to want it, and commit
At 175 pounds, Sophie Traulsen, 23, of Chandler, AZ, knew she wanted to lose weight, and she had the perfect reason. "I wanted to feel sexy and confident in my wedding dress," she says. That motivation proved to be enough. "If you really want it, it'll be worth it. But don't think you can lose weight and then go back to the way things were," she says.
Now close to 45 pounds lighter than when she started, Traulsen's Instagram page is filled with daily inspiration, healthy recipes, and information about the workout plan she uses. Check it out at @SophieGetsStrong.
Need help with willpower? Here are eight ways to train your brain to hate junk food.
Give clean-eating a shot
January 15, 2012, is a memorable date for Desiree S., 32, of Manitoba, Canada. "It was the day I woke up and realized: 'No more excuses, no more lying to myself, no more fad diets, herbal pills, or detox kits,'" she says. She weighed 275 pounds at the time—her heaviest.
After scouring Tosca Reno's clean-eating website, she chose to eliminate red meat, flour, pasta, refined sugars, and fried foods, replacing them with plenty of fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and daily smoothies packed with vitamins, good fats, and protein. Combined with a renewed commitment to exercise, she lost 140 pounds.
Now, she's focused on being a body positive role model coach and personal trainer. Follow her on Instagram at @nakedhealthjourney.
Tap into your competitive side
courtesy Savannah Bouziden When her mom gave her a Fitbit activity tracker, 308-pounds Savannah Bouziden, 31, of Alva OK, let her competitive side took over. "Being the competitive person that I am, I took part in challenges and strived to hit that 10,000 step goal every single day. I actually began to enjoy being active again," she says.
Having lost 103 pounds, Bouziden is still 30 pounds from her goal weight but says she now bases her success on how she feels physically and mentally. "I feel pretty fantastic when I can play with my toddlers and not get winded," says Bouziden. "The first time I could actually go down the slide with my girls, I cried."
Follow her progress on Instagram at @getfitvannah.
Find role models
"Something that really helped me throughout my journey was to look at pictures of women who inspired me," says Isabelle Audette, 20, of Montreal, Canada. "I would scroll through images of fitness models, saying to myself, 'one day, I'll have the body she has.'" It worked: she went from 224 to 124 pounds in 10 months. "Everybody is unique and we're all shaped differently, but this is what kept me going every morning. It doesn't have to be a model for you, it can even be a dress or jeans you know you want to fit into someday."
Follow her on Instagram at @iisaxxo.
Content continues below ad
Don't worship the scale
The last time she checked, Janelle Flanagan, 42, had lost 50 pounds, down from 188. But now, she simply focuses on completing her HIIT workouts and eating a healthy, balanced diet. "I never weigh myself at all anymore. The number means nothing to me and is not a goal. My goal is to be a better version of myself every day," says the mother-of-four from New Jersey.
"I have learned to appreciate my body and love it for what it is capable of," she says. Her weight loss journey lead her to become a personal trainer, and she says she loves helping women across the world lose weight and learn to love themselves.
For inspiration and motivation, follow her on Instagram at @Janelledfit.
Try meal prep
courtesy @wodthefork Planning ahead helped Katy H., 28, of Washington, DC, shed 80 of her original 245 pounds. "I packed healthy lunches, snacks, and dinners. I invested in lots of storage containers, a Crockpot slow-cooker, and water bottles," she says. She also quit soda "cold turkey" and instead focused on drinking water and lots of unsweetened tea throughout the day. (Check out these easy meal-prep rules to get started.)
She's kept the weight off by trying healthy eating challenges like Whole 30 and discovering a passion for Crossfit and road races. "I've run two half-marathons and even more 10-mile races," she says.
Follow her on Instagram at @wodthefork.
Mix it up
"Constantly changing my routine kept my body guessing and kept me from getting burnt out," says 27-year-old Alexis Ohl of Terre Haute, IN. "I would try new foods weekly. I also tried to do different physical activities, from biking to Zumba," she says.
In two years, Ohl went from 485 pounds to her new 177-pound self. "I've lost 308 pounds and my ultimate goal is just to be happy and healthy with a life I'm in love with," she says.
Documenting her progress on social media has helped Ohl stay accountable; follow her on Instagram at @fatgirlfedup.
Think outside the box
courtesy Kensie Benoit
Kensie Benoit, 28, needed to get creative to drop 40 pounds. "The combination of intermittent fasting and drinking meal replacement shakes for two of my five daily meals not only helped me lose weight, it also helped me maintain that weight loss," says the court reporter and public speaker from San Antonio, TX. The willingness to experiment led to her success.
Benoit severely restricted her calories a couple of days a week. (Another way to intermittent fast is to only eat between certain hours—10 AM and 6 PM, for example. You can learn more about intermittent fasting here.) Benoit says she also drank 8 to 10 cups of water a day to suppress her appetite and regularly exercised.
Content continues below ad
Realize you may always be a work in progress…and that's OK!
courtesy Paromita ChakrabortyAlthough Paromita Chakraborty, 34, of Mumbai, India, would still like to subtract a few more pounds (she's already lost 33), she keeps reminding herself: "My transformation isn't complete, yet, but I have started feeling fabulous during this journey itself."
She's stronger, has more stamina, and oozes confidence—which makes a goal weight moot. "I didn't have to get to my destination to feel great," she says. "I'm already a much happier and more positive person."
Follow her on Instagram at @cparomita.