Weight Loss Success Stories: Joanne's challenge

Until nine years ago, Joanne had never struggled with her weight. But then she and her husband started a business. She had no time to work out and dealt with stress by eating fast food. Five years later, Joanne was tired and unhappy and weighed in at 184 pounds.

Diet Tip: Putting My Dream First

Although Joanne's husband had been eating the same fatty foods right along with her, his fast metabolism kept him from gaining weight. "He started making negative comments about my appearance," Joanne says. "Our marriage was already on the rocks, and the insults were the last straw." They eventually divorced. "The end of our relationship forced me to re-evaluate my whole life," she says. "I decided to dedicate the same time and effort I had put into my husband's dream of owning his own company to my well- being-both mental and physical."

Diet Tip: Adding Some Exercise

Joanne dug out an old exercise video and tried to follow along. "I couldn't even finish it-that's how out of shape I was," she says. "But afterward my head felt clearer and I could focus." Joanne realized she had found a healthy outlet for her frustration and decided she would do as much of the routine as possible every morning. In just one month, she lost 8 pounds. Excited by her progress, Joanne read up on different healthy eating plans and overhauled her diet. She avoided the drive-through and started eating six small meals a day, such as a veggie burger on a whole-wheat bun. When she went out to eat, she would order lighter dishes- grilled tilapia instead of fried shrimp, for example-and have only half. After three more months, Joanne was down another 25 pounds and was ready for more intense workouts. "I'd been too self-conscious to go to the gym before, but I finally felt comfortable enough to join one," she says. She added sculpting and Pilates classes to her routine-and dropped 27 more pounds.

Diet Tip: Making My self Feel Great

Although Joanne's divorce prompted her lifestyle changes, she kept up with them because of how good they made her feel. Still, she got a thrill from showing off her new figure to her ex- husband. "He was at my 40th birthday party and couldn't believe how amazing I looked," she says. "A part of me is sad that we couldn't make it work, but I never would have learned how strong I am if we'd stayed together."

Joanne's Stick-With-It Secrets

1. Pack nutrients into each meal "I make every bite count by choosing foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals. I go for spinach over iceberg lettuce or a veggie-filled soup instead of one with noodles."

2. Exercise in short bursts "I work out almost every day, but usually for only half an hour at a time. Since it's not a huge time commitment, I can always squeeze it in."

3. Don't forget your past "I forced myself to take a full- length ‘before' shot, then stuck it on my fridge. It's kept me from overindulging more times than I can count."

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