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Pounds lost: 40
Turning point: My 'freshman 15' was more like the 'freshman 40.' I was a huge emotional eater. I would eat when I was stressed, happy, sad—it didn’t matter. I felt embarrassed trying on clothes when I'd have to secretly ask the sales lady to bring me a larger size. I felt drained from the life that I was leading, and I knew that if I didn’t make a change soon, my weight would continue to balloon and my health would suffer. I am proud to say that I changed my lifestyle by forming great habits and I've never turned back.
Weight-loss tip: There is no magic pill or potion for getting fit. I learned this through my own trials and errors until I was finally able to kick bad habits and embrace health and fitness as a lifestyle.
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Pounds lost: 140+
Turning point: As a performer (Hudoba is a former opera singer), I knew that rejection after auditioning was a part of the process. But when a casting director told me it wasn't because of my voice or talent but rather weight, I knew something had to change.
Weight-loss tip: Give yourself rewards. My reward is usually a City Cakes salted caramel cupcake. Work hard and play harder. As soon as you deny yourself cheat days, that's when you start having cheat weeks.
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Pounds lost: 65
Turning point: As an athletic training major in college, I wasn't living by what I was learning. I smoked a pack a day and ate anything and everything I could get my paws on. My 'aha!' moment was just after college graduation, when I stepped on the scale and saw 185 pounds and nearly died (I'm barely 5' 1''). I had no idea my weight had spiraled that far out of control. I knew right then I needed to make a change.
Weight-loss tip: Try different workouts until you find one that makes you happy and that you find fun! If you think it's punishment or torture, you're not going to stick with it. There is something out there that will work for you and that you will actually enjoy!
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Pounds lost: 70
Turning point: I was happily married to a wonderful man with two beautiful kids and a corporate job, and I was totally miserable. At 206 pounds (my heaviest), I realized that I had to make a change for my health and well-being so I commit to an intense exercise program. Eight weeks later, both my husband and my best friend were killed in a tragic plane crash. Instead of giving up, I used exercise as my therapy. I ran a half marathon three months later and then the full San Diego Marathon five months after that.
Weight-loss tip: I've learned that endorphins are the best anti-depressant of all. Remember to take care of yourself during times of extreme stress—it's the first step to being able to take care of those around you.
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Pounds lost: 35
Turning point: My 'aha!' moment was during my junior year of college—I had gone through a bad breakup and had been treating my body horribly. I was sick of being insecure about my body (and getting winded walking up to my fourth-floor apartment), and I knew that if I wanted the confidence to start dating again, I needed to make a change.
Weight-loss tip: Make lifestyle changes, don't 'go on a diet.' Diets are temporary and so are the results. If you make permanent changes, you get permanent results.
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Pounds lost: 80
Turning point: Seeing my father lose his battle with cancer made me realize that if I kept up my current lifestyle, I would die too. I hadn't done the things I wanted to with my life. For a long time I had hovered between life and death, just existing and not living, hiding behind my weight.
Weight-loss tip: Stop trying to diet and instead focus on becoming healthier. Also, brush your teeth after every meal, snack, or bite of food. Trust me—it works!
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Pounds lost: 120
Turning point: I was a competitive athlete growing up, playing all kinds of sports at a high level. When a knee injury in college forced me to stop training, I eventually found myself sitting behind a desk, eating nothing but takeout, and 120 pounds heavier—for about six years. During that time, my friends and family were relentless, constantly commenting on and mocking my weight until I'd finally had enough. I decided it was time to do something about it.
Weight-loss tip: The hardest part of losing weight isn't working out or knowing what to eat, it's committing! Find a training partner to help keep you accountable. It's easier to reach your goals if someone is expecting you at the gym every day or if you have a gym buddy that you simply enjoy working out with to help make it fun.
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Pounds lost: 75
Turning point: My 'aha!' moment was about six years ago, when I was approaching my 49th birthday—crazy how that magical number 50 can make such a difference in your life. I realized that if I didn't make a lifestyle change now, I might never do it! I gave myself one year to find that person that was screaming inside to come out (I also have to admit that I looked forward to wearing something other than sweatshirts and sweatpants). I wanted my sexy back!
Weight-loss tip: It is never too late to be great! I am the poster girl for women over 50—I encourage every body I meet to make a change—NOW. This is your time.
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Pounds lost: 60
Turning point: A bona fide tomboy and youth athlete, it wasn't until I became embarrassingly lazy, complacent, and overweight in my mid-20s that I decided to put down the fork, turn off the TV, and face my fears. For me, those fears involved walking into a real running store, buying a pair of real running shoes, and signing up for a marathon training program as a way to meet new people and break out of a rut. I was heading down a dangerous path of self-destruction and it was my U-turn. Crossing the finish line of that first race was my 'aha!' moment of lifelong change.
Weight-loss tip: Make gradual changes to your overall lifestyle instead of drastic, extreme changes, and always maintain a sense of humor about things—know that you'll never be perfect!
Nancy Anne Martin
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Pounds lost: 49
Turning point: After my mom wound up with potentially fatal health issues from not taking proper care of herself, I knew I didn't want my own children to witness me in a similar condition.
Weight-loss tip: Keep a log! I still keep track of what I eat in a written journal and all of my exercise and much of what I eat on Sparkpeople.com —it's really motivating to see those Spark Points rack up!
11 of 16All photos
Pounds lost: 85
Turning point: Overweight and unhealthy from a young age, my confidence and quality of life were severely affected. I realized that I couldn't live my whole life not knowing what it feels like to be truly proud of my body; something had to change. Even though I was extremely intimidated by gyms, working out seemed like a solid place to start. I forced myself to visit a big gym near my work—an experience I immediately regretted. Pressured by gym staff to lose copious weight and purchase expensive memberships and personal training packages, I left discouraged and frustrated. Still in need of a solution, I joined a small, unassuming gym in my neighborhood. With the encouragement and guidance of some of the most amazing fitness professionals at that gym, I have lost nearly 80 pounds since joining in 2008!
Weight-loss tip: When it comes to making lifestyle changes, there are countless solutions—it's just comes down to discovering the one that is best suited to you. Losing weight and being healthy is a different journey for everyone, so know what you want and that you absolutely can achieve it, and then find the right people to support you in your journey.
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Pounds lost: 50
Turning point: I have been on both ends of the spectrum—I've lost 50 pounds when I was overweight, and I've also battled anorexia and weighed only 75 pounds at one point. One day I looked at my mother and said, 'I can't do this anymore. I need help and food has consumed my life for too long. Please get me help.' From then on, I sought counseling and turned my life around. I never looked back.
Weight-loss tip: I think the key to weight loss and maintenance is to live a healthy, happy, and balanced life. Life is a journey—there are no quick fixes or gimmicks that will work long term. Maintaining weight loss doesn't just come from the gym and the plate sitting in front of you. It also comes from positive and healthy relationships, laughing, enjoying life, finding your passion, and loving yourself. At that point, weight doesn't really become an issue because you are content within yourself.
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Pounds lost: 92
Turning point: My doctor kept increasing my anti-depressant dosage. One day I couldn't fill the prescription. I realized it wasn't solving anything—it just made me ambivalent about continually gaining weight. I knew I needed to figure out why I was depressed, the root of what was causing my overeating. It was time to get to know myself.
Weight-loss tip: Go deep. Understand yourself and your motivations, your fears, your values, and purpose in life. We try to make weight loss simple in our society, but it's one of the most complicated subjects on earth because we are complicated beings. Anyone can lose weight. If you want to keep it off, you need to truly understand yourself and heal yourself of the need to act out life's frustrations on your body.
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Pounds lost: 30
Turning point: I used to do exercise demonstration videos on YouTube for the personal training company I worked for. One day I looked back at the video and was shocked, thinking 'no one is going to take advice from me. I look like Grimace from McDonald's!' The harsh YouTube comments about me having a gut only confirmed what I already knew. Something needed to change so that I could be a better example for my clients that were trusting me to help them improve their bodies.
Weight-loss tip: Keep it simple! All I did was strength train twice a week and reduce my calories slightly, along with eating less refined carbs and sugar in my diet. That's all I did, nothing more complicated than that. I worked hard and was consistent day in and day out, except one day when I had whatever I wanted. It took about three months to drop 25 to 30 pounds the right way.
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Pounds lost: 24
Turning point: After 11 years in corporate America, sitting at a desk and eating bad foods, it took seeing a picture of myself (left photo) to realize how much weight I'd gained. I was mortified by how large I looked, but it gets worse: The results of a body fat test I got after joining a gym revealed I was borderline obese!
Weight-loss tip: Change the way you experience and think about food. Food is going to make or break your ability to lose the weight and keep it off.
Erika Nicole Kendall
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Pounds lost: 165
Turning point: After giving up working out, I changed how I ate and actually began losing a significant amount of weight. Once I was happy with my eating habits, figured if I paired healthier eating with working out, the weight would fly off. And it did!
Weight-loss tip: Use high-intensity interval training (HIIT)! It allows you to burn the calories for fat-loss, while also developing the muscle you'll need to both look toned and sustain the weight loss.