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I Walked My Way Slim

Allison's Challenge Allison grew up with an aerobics instructor for a mother and sports-star brothers. But pressure to be active led her to choose the couch-potato path -- why she put on weight. Her habits stuck, and when she got married at 24, she weighed 180 pounds.

My Turning Point In the evenings, Allison and her husband would relax by watching TV and drinking beer. But when he went back to school to finish his degree, she grew tired of sitting around by herself. She started exploring the hiking trails that ran through her neighborhood. "Just by walking, I dropped about 15 pounds in six months," Allison says. "I was so encouraged, I wanted to lose more." She spoke to her doctor, who recommended that Allison start strength training to help boost her metabolism; she picked up a pair of 5-pound dumbbells the very next day. "Once I was walking and lifting," says Allison, "the weight really started coming off."

My Weight-Loss And Exercise Plan Allison dropped 5 more pounds during the next month and began keeping a food journal. "Since junk food has always been one of my biggest weaknesses, I wanted to see exactly what I was eating," she says. "It turned out to be lots of snacks and convenient takeout." Seeing her habits on paper sparked a realization: "I knew what eating healthy looked like, I just wasn't doing it," she says. She resolved to give her favorite meals a nutrition makeover: "Instead of popping a frozen pizza in the oven, I topped a whole-wheat pita with broccoli, fresh garlic, tomato sauce and lowfat mozzarella," she says. "Or I made burritos from black beans, spinach and brown rice." Improving her diet gave Allison more energy -- her short walks grew into distance hikes, and she bought videos to find new strength-training moves. "I stayed active around the house too, mowing the lawn and raking leaves," she says. A year after she began hiking, she weighed a healthy 140 pounds.

Making success happen Proud that she'd finally adopted the healthy habits she'd been exposed to as a child, Allison was determined not to go back to her old ways when she got pregnant two years ago. She stayed active during her pregnancy, and by the time her son reached his first birthday last June, she was back down to 140. "I've found more confidence with every goal I've reached," she says. "I'm finally living the life of the healthy, happy person I know I deserve to be."

My Motivation Secrets > Set small goals. "It means you realize more successes. My first goal was to walk for only 15 minutes!"> Follow the 80/20 rule. "I'll allow myself french fries or chocolate 20 percent of the time if the rest of my diet is healthy." > Find a good cause. "I ran a marathon in honor of a friend who was diagnosed with leukemia, raising $5,000 in the process."

My Workout Schedule > Walking or hiking 60-90 minutes/4 times a week > Strength-training classes or videos 60 minutes/2 times a week

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