Weight Loss Success Stories: Teresa's challenge

Teresa had always wanted a big family, and throughout her 20s she delivered four babies. But with each pregnancy, she put on more weight-and found less time to exercise and cook healthy meals. By the time she hit 29, Teresa tipped the scale at 175.

Diet Tip: Making My Own Time

At first Teresa didn't even think about how heavy she'd gotten. "I was so busy taking care of my kids while my husband worked, I barely left the house, much less noticed my size," she says. But three years ago, her youngest child started full-day kindergarten. "I was so excited that I'd finally have the chance to meet up with friends and hang out," she says. "But then I realized I had nothing to wear; I couldn't even get my old jeans up over my hips." So Teresa decided to dedicate her newfound free time to getting back into shape.

Diet Tip: Finding My Groove

With some pointers from friends and family members, including a sister who had lost 30 pounds, Teresa made over her diet. She quit ordering fattening takeout, like pizza and fried chicken-and discovered it didn't take much effort to make nutritious meals. "I never thought I had time to cut up all the ingredients for a salad, but it didn't take long if I prepped a week's worth of veggies at once," she says. She also started grilling salmon or chicken for family dinners. As she got healthier, so did her kids and her husband. Those changes made a difference, and Teresa started dropping about 5 pounds a month. At the same time she was improving her diet, Teresa also bought a treadmill for her bedroom. "I knew I had to work out, and I figured walking would be the easiest way to do it," she says. "Plus, I could watch TV or listen to music to stay entertained." She began walking every other day for 15 minutes, increasing the distance, speed, and incline as she felt stronger. After a year, Teresa had lost 60 pounds.

Diet Tip: The Ultimate Role Model

These days Teresa has found a way to make both herself and her kids a priority. "I used to think all my effort should go into ensuring my family was happy, but that attitude isn't good for me-or them," she says. "Now I plan my workouts around their schedule, or we all go bike riding together. I want my kids to see that being healthy is fun."

Teresa's Stick-With-It Secrets

1. Don't stress about substitutions "At restaurants I often ask for the sauce on the side. I feel a little self- conscious, but that's better than ruining my diet."

2. Check in regularly "I weigh myself every day. I may go up or down a few pounds, but if I put on more than 5, I crank up my workouts and eat more carefully."

3. Have separate snacks "I love nibbling while watching TV, so I microwave lowfat popcorn. It's low-calorie and keeps me from reaching for my husband's chips."

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