By Juno DeMelo

Weight Loss Success Stories: Heidi's challenge

Heidi had always been "heavy but not huge"-until she got pregnant. "After my son was born, I went on a high-protein diet," she says. "But because I was still eating fried chicken and mozzarella sticks, I couldn't get the scale to budge below 178 pounds."

Diet tip: Seizing the moment

Shortly after turning 40, Heidi-a longtime yoga fan-decided to become a yoga instructor. During the training program, her teacher asked the class to commit to making one healthy change for the next 40 days. "I had been thinking since my birthday that I could go my whole life not knowing what it feels like to be proud of my body," she says. "The challenge-along with the fact that I'd just seen a flyer for a new boot camp class that promised to transform your body in weeks-was just what I needed to finally achieve weight loss success."

Diet tip: Basic training

Heidi signed up for the boot camp and was soon hitting the gym at 5 a.m. three days a week. "My idea of cardio was reading a magazine while I did the elliptical for a few minutes," she says. "But the trainer had us doing push-ups, pulling weighted sleds around, and even flipping tires over for a whole hour!" Although she planned on quitting after the 40 days were up, Heidi was so encouraged by her weight loss success-she was down 10 pounds by the end-that she signed up for another session. This time around, she also tackled her diet. "I'd always thought I was being virtuous by skipping breakfast and refusing to snack between meals," she says. "When my boot camp instructor suggested eating five times a day, I thought she was crazy. It seemed like so much food! But my way wasn't working, so I decided to give hers a try." Heidi's mini meals (like cut-up fresh veggies with whole-grain crackers and cheese) kept her from feeling deprived-and helped her get down to 128 pounds a year and a half later.

Diet tip: Ripple effect

A svelte new shape wasn't the only payoff for Heidi's hard work: She also gained the confidence to open her own yoga studio. "Becoming healthy has opened so many doors for me," she says. "Don't get me wrong-I love the way I look now, and the fact that my body's strong enough to crank out 100 push-ups. But the best part of this whole process has been inspiring my students to make positive changes in their own lives."

Heidi's stick-with-it secrets

  1. Map out meals
    "Every Sunday I write down what I'm going to eat in my food journal. It makes grocery shopping easier and lets me pencil in 'cheats,' like a piece of cake when I know I'll be attending a birthday party."
  2. Nip burnout in the bud
    "I add something new to my workout routine-like in-line skating or burpees-every few weeks to keep myself from falling into a rut."
  3. Trick your taste buds
    "Believe it or not, nonfat plain Greek yogurt drizzled with agave nectar can be just as satisfying as a scoop of full-fat ice cream."

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