By Juno DeMelo
December 08, 2010

Weight Loss Success Story: Sandrelle's Challenge

Sandrelle, whose parents were both gym teachers, was an active kid. But once she stopped playing sports in high school, her sweet tooth and huge portions started catching up with her. By graduation, Sandrelle weighed 224 pounds.

Diet Tip: Recognize When You Hit a Low Point

Sandrelle crash-dieted her way to 160 pounds for her wedding 16 years after graduation. But shortly after getting married, she was diagnosed with premature menopause. "I was 35 when I found out I couldn't have kids," says Sandrelle, a respiratory therapist. "It was devastating, and I dealt with it by bingeing on pizza and tacos in the hospital cafeteria." After a year, she was up to 201 pounds. "The last straw was when I couldn't squeeze into my extra-large scrubs. I decided that, from then on, I would become a weight loss success story and only allow the number on the scale go down."

Diet Tip: Stick to a Reasonable Calorie Budget

In the past, Sandrelle had no weight loss success when she skipped breakfast and lunch-because it would leave her so hungry, she'd end up eating an entire box of cookies in one sitting. "This time I concentrated on sticking to a reasonable 1,500- to 1,800-calorie budget instead of trying to starve myself," she says. First up: packing green salads with lean protein, like grilled chicken, for lunch, and either an apple and string cheese or baby carrots with hummus for a snack. Soon Sandrelle was dropping nearly 2 pounds a week. Next, she dusted off the elliptical and treadmill in her basement and began logging 30 minutes of cardio a day. After a few months, she bought some strength-training DVDs (her faves: P90X and anything by Cathe Friedrich. Click here to see our top picks.) and followed along using adjustable weights. "I mixed up my workouts by riding my bike, swimming in our local pool, and adding new equipment, like kettlebells (check out the top 7 ways to make kettlebells work for you), to my routine," says Sandrelle. A little over a year later, she got down to 124 pounds.

Diet Tip: Be Willing to Try Anything!

Just as she was starting to appreciate her weight loss success, Sandrelle was diagnosed with a thyroid disorder that left her lethargic and achy. "Before, a setback like that would have sent me straight to the drive-through," she says. "But I'd worked too hard for my body to let it go." She stuck to her healthy habits and, after having her thyroid removed, started exercising again. A year later, she finished her first triathlon. "Being fit makes me feel like I can do anything. I'm really living my life now instead of making excuses."

Sandrelle's Stick-With-It Secrets

Know your trigger foods: "I can't eat milk chocolate without going overboard. But I can limit myself to three pieces of dark chocolate; something about the bittersweet flavor makes a little go a long way."

Don't dwell on mistakes: "I used to think I had two choices: being perfect or eating with total abandon. Now I know slipups are inevitable-and I can learn from them."

Keep your eyes on the prize: "Every day I ask myself, 'What's my motivation?' Remembering why you want to lose weight makes all the hard work seem worthwhile while you're waiting for results." Stick to your routine with these top tips from real women.

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