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Before and after weight-loss photos are fun to look at, as well as super inspirational. But behind every set of photos is a story. For me, that story is all about the little changes.

Looking back to a year ago, I was reckless with my food and drink. When it came to exercise, I was pretty sporadic. Today I have a weight-loss routine that keeps me focused and makes healthy choices come naturally to me. I no longer have to think about it—it's just what I do. And it's all thanks to small weekly and daily changes that have transformed my world.

Every Sunday, my family and I go shopping for organic veggies, fruit, and healthy proteins like grass-fed beef or fresh-caught salmon. It's great for our children to see us reading labels, comparing products, and bringing home so much produce. Planning our week's meals helps with eating healthy and reduces the stress of not knowing what to make every night. As for my daily routine, there are a few things I have done to keep my weight-loss project on track. Try some of these and see how a few small changes can create a big result for you too!

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1. Wake up and drink a glass of water (sometimes with lemon). I start my day like this to stay hydrated and get my metabolism moving.

2. Never skip breakfast. I eat a protein-packed meal every morning.

3. Exercise. Some days it's a run around the neighborhood, other times it's a weight-training session, yoga class, or tennis.

4. Eat mindfully. Snacking all day or not paying attention to how much I was eating was harmful to my weight. Late afternoons were especially dangerous for me because when my hunger soared, my eyes would scour every shelf in the pantry or fridge looking for something to eat—healthy or not. Now I always have smart choices to nosh on: a basket of fresh fruit, baggies of sliced veggies, raw nuts, all-natural granola, and cans of chickpeas, which I coat with olive oil and spices, then throw on foil and place in the oven at 400 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes. (Try it!)

5. Eat a veggie- and protein-packed lunch and dinner. Normally I eat a salad at lunch, but sometimes I enjoy leftovers from the night before. Whatever the case, I plan my midday meal and dinners long before I'm hungry.

6. Take 10,000 steps daily. In addition to exercise, staying active throughout my day has proven to be very beneficial for me. It's amazing how much more energy I've had since I've started aiming for my step goal.

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7. Avoid late-night munching. I've heard that most people consume the bulk of their calories late at night, and that was me in my former life. Today I occasionally have a snack after dinner, but most of the time I just drink tea or water. I've noticed that when I do, my stomach feels lighter in the morning.

8. Skip sugar and alcohol. Both of these empty calorie treats were detrimental to my sleep and waistline so I said goodbye to both a couple of months ago, and now I sleep so well every night. Plus it's fun watching the number on the scale go down!

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