Weight Loss Success Stories: Andrea's challenge

Andrea's naturally slim build could withstand her love of fast food for only so long. By the time she hit 30, years of cheeseburgers, Chinese takeout, and chicken wings, coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, helped her get up to 168 pounds-too heavy for her petite frame.

Diet Tip: It's Not Always a Simple Fix

Andrea paid no attention to her increasing size and instead focused on her marriage and children. But a year and a half ago, she was forced to face reality. "I found a pair of size 4 pants in my closet," she says. "They used to fit, but I couldn't even pull them past my thighs!" Instead of throwing them out, she vowed she would wear them again. Her first step was to see a weight-loss doctor. "I was hoping I had a thyroid problem or something with a simple fix," she says. "But my blood work came back normal, proving that my bad eating and exercise habits were at fault." To put Andrea on the right path, the doctor gave her a healthier regimen to follow.

Diet Tip: Make a Change

Andrea immediately stopped hitting up fast-food restaurants at every meal and began cooking at home: oatmeal and berries for breakfast, salads with baked chicken for lunch, and grilled salmon with a sweet potato or shrimp and broccoli stir-fry for dinner. "To make it easier, I'd prep my lunches the night before and bring them to work," she says. "What I packed was not only more nutritious than going out, it was cheaper too." The weight began coming off-about 2 pounds a week. Andrea also got off the couch. "I started by walking on the treadmill every morning and night," she says. As she got fitter, she upped the speed and duration of her cardio workouts and added strength training. "I work for an investment firm, and our office has a gym, so twice a week I went there on my lunch hour and used the free weights or cardio machines," she says. After six months, Andrea had dropped a total of 50 pounds. The best part: Her size 4 pants were now baggy.

Diet Tip: Finding the Right Mind Set

To stay motivated, Andrea began training for triathlons and a marathon. "Before I started exercising, I was barely able to swim, bike, or run," she says. "But now, when I'm getting ready for a race, I can do all of those things in a single morning. It's still unbelievable to me." Looking back, Andrea is amazed at what she's accomplished. "It really is mind over matter. If you want to change badly enough, you can do anything."

Andrea's Stick-With-It Secrets

1. Make your own healthy refreshments "I bought a juicer so I can mix up a satisfying drink anytime."

2. Know what you're eating "I keep a book called The Calorie King Calorie, Fat & Carbohydrate Counter in my purse. It helps me keep tabs on restaurant meals."

3. Get moving every day "I need to be active for at least 30 minutes a day. So if I have to miss a workout at the gym, I walk in the park with my kids."

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