Weight Loss Success Story: Dacia's Challenge

Growing up, Dacia helped cook in the kitchen instead of play sports. Her love of southern fare, like fried pork chops, caused her to hit 180 pounds by her teens (a better choice: This lighter garlic herbed pork chop recipe). Then, after separating from her husband in her mid 20s, she found solace in food and reached 207 pounds.

Diet Tip: Too Snug for Comfort

Dacia kept helping herself to seconds at lunch and dinner until four years ago when she started having a hard time buttoning her pants. "I knew I was heavy, but I didn't think much about it because I'd been that way forever," she says. "But when my old clothes got too tight, I couldn't deny that I had a problem. So I made a vow to myself to get healthy and become a weight loss success story-for good."

Diet Tip: One Change at a Time

Instead of overhauling her entire lifestyle at once, Dacia began by improving her diet little by little. "I was in the habit of stuffing myself until I was so full that I felt almost sick," she says. "I had to get a handle on the right way to eat." After reading diet tip articles online about portion control, she started measuring out her food and writing down everything she ate. She also made healthier choices, like beginning her day with whole-wheat toast, egg whites and low-sodium bacon, and satisfying her sweet tooth with low-fat ice cream. Although Dacia was eating better than she ever had, she only lost 10 pounds in a year. "I was frustrated because I was making the right changes to my diet, but not getting the results I wanted," she says. "I knew from everything I read that I wouldn't see any real weight loss success unless I exercised." With that in mind, she began walking at a nearby track for half an hour twice a week after work. "At first, I went with a friend to help pass the time," she says. "But I felt so good afterward that it wasn't long before I was motivated to go alone." Dacia kept moving, and soon she could jog for 30 minutes straight. "My hard work paid off, and after six months I'd lost another 16 pounds," she says. To rev up her routine, she joined a gym and started taking cardio classes. After a year, Dacia got down to 162 pounds.

Diet Tip: Sharing Her Weight-Loss Secrets

In hindsight, Dacia realized just how much her weight had held her back. "The physical pain and sluggishness I had when I was at my heaviest is gone," she says. "I have more energy now than ever." And she loves sharing her diet tips and weight-loss success strategies. "I'm always talking about healthy recipes or a new move I tried at the gym," she says. "I never thought I'd be able to help others get in shape, but now I'm confident enough to do just that."

Dacia's Stick-With-It Secrets

Get your greens: "I try to eat a salad every single day. I either pack one for lunch or have it as a side with dinner. It's a simple way to squeeze in extra veggies." Check out these salad recipes that keep you satisfied.

Fill your inbox with advice: "I subscribe to e-newsletters from Jillian Michaels and Ellie Krieger. They give me ideas for freshening up my workouts and experimenting with new dishes in the kitchen."

Serve up healthy fare: "Sometimes I invite friends to my house for dinner instead of always meeting them at restaurants. I know if I'm the one doing the cooking, I'll have more control over the calories and fat."

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