Weight Loss Success Stories: Dana's challenge
Though she was an active kid, Dana was always a bit heavy. As she got older, she became more sedentary, and her weight kept going up. In her 20s, Dana moved to New York City for a high-stress job and found solace in food. She reached 350 pounds by 30.
Diet Tip: Finding the Right New Environment
Depressed by her size, Dana decided to move back to her hometown. "I needed a new environment to break out of the rut I was in," she says. Once home, Dana didn't feel as lonely as she had in New York. "I was surrounded by family and old friends, so I didn't need food to boost my mood," she says. Just by connecting with people rather than eating, Dana shed 50 pounds in a little over a year.
Diet Tip: Kick it Up Another Notch
Eager to lose even more, Dana joined a weight-loss support group. "I still remember when I saw what correct portions looked like," she says. "I'd been eating twice those amounts at every meal!" So she bought a food scale and started weighing everything she ate. To feel full longer, she also switched from pizza and burgers to fare that was higher in fiber and lower in fat, like whole-wheat pasta, oatmeal, and grilled-chicken salad. To monitor her progress, she weighed herself once a week. "Every time I stepped on the scale, I saw the needle move down a bit, which kept me going," she says. Next, Dana was ready to up her activity level. "I didn't expect to run a marathon any time soon, but I had to move more," she says. Dana joined a gym and started walking for 30 minutes at a time on the treadmill. Eventually she increased the intensity of her cardio and mixed in weight lifting. "I began to turn to exercise instead of food when I got stressed," she says. After two years, she hit 177 pounds, but then she started to slip. "I'd done so well, I thought I could pay less attention to diet and exercise," she says. But she started gaining again, so she signed up for a weight-loss challenge at her gym. In a few months, she got down to 160 pounds and won the contest—and $300.
Diet Tip: Go the Distance
To stay motivated, Dana joined a local running club and started competing in road races. "My friends ask why I push myself so hard," she says. "But when you used to barely be able to walk up the stairs, finishing a 10K is amazing. I'm so appreciative of what my body is now capable of doing."
Dana's Stick-With-It Secrets
1. Question the menu "When dining out, I always ask if the chef can make my meal without butter or oil. Even healthy-sounding dishes can be bathed in grease."
2. Invest in yourself "I splurge on really good exercise gear, especially sneakers and sports bras. It's hard to make myself work out if I'm uncomfortable doing it."
3. Picture your past "I look at old photos of myself to remember how I felt at different weights. Knowing how much happier I am now keeps me on track."