From people who've lost 40, 50, 100+ pounds
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Johnna Stephenson, 40, Lost 63 pounds
"Dark chocolate is my favorite way to treat myself," she says. "Instead of thinking about it all day long, I let myself have one small piece first thing in the morning, before I eat breakfast. It feels really decadent, and I get the craving out of my system."
Get in the Race
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Dana Bland, 40, Lost 190 pounds
To stay motivated, Dana joined a local running club and started competing in road races. "When you used to barely be able to walk up the stairs, finishing a 10K is amazing," she says. "I'm so appreciative of what my body is capable of doing." She even did a triathlon!
Limit Liquid Calories
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Elizabeth Byrd, 31, Lost 40 pounds
"I loved happy hour, but I cut back to one weekend night a week," she says. "That way I could go out without feeling guilty." Cutting down on caloric cocktails helped her drop 15 pounds after three months.
Don't Demand Perfection
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Lori Kimble, 41, Lost 105 pounds
"I used to think that to be active, you had to look like an Olympian, but I learned we all have an inner athlete waiting to come out," she says. As a teen in gym class, Lori was teased for running slowly, but as an adult, decided to try running again—and she fell in love with it.
Consider Your Calories Carefully
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Diana Carbonell, 44, Lost 159 pounds
When it came to junk food, Diana couldn't control her cravings, so she created food rules. "If I'm at a party and I’m tempted by a bunch of delicious-looking treats, I don't try them all," she says. "Instead, I take a nibble of one, rate it, and finish it only if it scores a 10."
Nix Post-Dinner Noshing
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Cyndy Barnes, 38, Lost 50 pounds
"I used to snack all evening on chips and cookies. What's more, I even stocked chocolate in my nightstand drawer so I could eat while lying in bed." To stop her stomach from grumbling after dinner, she started drinking a glass of water with a power fiber supplement mixed in.
Don't Go to Extremes
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Tracy Johnson, 27, Lost 40 pounds
"Someone once told me that you should never do anything today that you can't do for the rest of your life," she says. "So I didn't starve myself or work out for three hours at a clip because I knew I couldn't sustain that." Having a realistic attitude prevented Tracy from getting frustrated…and helped the pounds drop.
Ditch the Fast-Food Habit
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Andrea Williams, 33, Lost 50 pounds
"I'd prep my lunches the night before and bring them to work," she says. "What I packed was not only more nutritious than going out, it was cheaper too." Once she stopped eating burgers and greasy takeout regularly, the weight began coming off—about 2 pounds a week.
Start with Small Swaps
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Heather Craig, 28, Lost 85 pounds
Heather set about improving her diet with little tweaks: replacing mayonnaise with mustard, switching from whole milk to nonfat, and swapping out white bread for wheat. She also stopped stocking desserts at home. "I would go buy a cone of frozen yogurt instead of keeping pints in my freezer," she says.
Look Sexy While You Sweat
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Caroline Jhingory, 28, Lost 123 pounds
"I find flattering and affordable exercise clothes at discount shops, like T.J. Maxx and Marshalls," she says. "Wearing something I feel good in—rather than an old college tee—inspires me to go to the gym." Now Caroline is proud to show off her figure in form-fitting clothing.