By Alice Oglethorpe

Weight Loss Success Stories: Elizabeth's challenge

Elizabeth's weight issues started in childhood, when she was urged to have thirds of her mom's Southern cooking. Her diet got worse after college, when she started a job with long hours and relied on dishes like macaroni and cheese for dinner. By 22, she had hit 185 pounds.

Diet Tip: My Motivational Milestone

Shortly after turning 30, Elizabeth took a long look at her life. "I had an amazing boyfriend and a career I was passionate about," she says. "But I was miserable in my own skin and felt tired all the time." At a loss for what to do, Elizabeth considered getting liposuction. "I met with doctors, but I got scared and backed out at the last minute," she says. "So instead I decided to change my lifestyle. I had spent my 20s hating my body-I wanted to put a stop to it once and for all."

Diet Tip: Make Simple Substitutions

Elizabeth tackled her diet first. "I searched online to see which foods to eat more of," she says. She switched to whole-grain breads; dark, leafy greens and other veggies; lowfat dairy; and lean protein, like pork tenderloin, fish, and chicken. Her research also turned up lots of tricks to stop overeating, such as taking a sip of water between bites. "That really helped me slow down so that I didn't just plow through my meals," she says. The other big change Elizabeth made was limiting liquid calories. "I loved happy hour, but I cut it back to one weekend night a week," she says. "That way I could go out without feeling guilty." After just three months, she had dropped 15 pounds. To round out her total lifestyle makeover, Elizabeth joined a gym. "I went with a friend to her health club, which made a point of welcoming all sizes," she says. She started with 20 minutes on the elliptical and gradually made her workouts longer and more intense by trying classes. "I'd also use different weight machines every time I went-by the end of each week, I'd have worked out on almost every piece of strength-training equipment in the place," she says. After nine months, she had lost a total of 40 pounds.

Diet Tip: Enjoy a New body and New outlook

As much as Elizabeth loves her physical changes, what happened on the inside matters more. "I used to feel so negative about my body, which poisoned every aspect of my life," she says. "But now I've proven I can set my mind to something, take action, and see results. I have so much respect for myself!"

Elizabeth's Stick-With-It Secrets

1. Consider the consequences "When I'm tempted to overindulge, I resist by asking myself, ‘Do I want the cookie, or do I want to look fabulous and be healthy?' "

2. Cut down on prep work "On Sundays I buy a big party platter of precut veggies. Every morning I take a huge handful to work as a snack. It's so easy!"

3. Don't let labels fool you "When I compare foods, I always look at sodium. A lot of things claim to be healthy but have way too much salt in them, which can cause high blood pressure-not to mention bloating."

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