No matter how much weight you’re trying to lose or how drastically you’re looking to change your relationship with food, getting fit is a journey unique to each of us. And while some people have great success with simply revamping their diets or working out more often, others need a total lifestyle overhaul. However you go about it, one thing’s for certain: Hearing about other people’s transformations is inspirational and encouraging.
These three people lost weight through totally different strategies, and they all overcame a variety of obstacles along the way. Collectively, they have lost a total of 274 pounds through food and lifestyle changes. From journaling and consistent exercise to dietary switches and mindset tweaks, they accomplished their goals in ways that worked for them.
Emily Woolf, 34
125 Pounds Lost
Eight years ago, after my first daughter was born, I was devastated and ashamed when the scale read 280 pounds. It was the heaviest I had ever been. I went on to have two more healthy girls, but with each pregnancy came complications leading to bed rest and more weight gain.
It took me a long time to figure it out, but the diets I had tried (and I tried all of them) weren’t sustainable. For me, the only path to long-term weight loss was through a drastic change in my lifestyle.
Defining a lifestyle goal, not a weight goal, became a powerful tool for me. Looking a certain way or being a particular size was not enough to motivate me to stay on track.
One day, I erased the arbitrary weight goal I’d written on my mirror and replaced it with the words: Show the girls how to see their body as a powerful tool for living an active life. Model a healthy relationship with food and show them that food is fuel to power the body to run, jump, spin, and engage in the world around us.
This new goal helped me find the drive to stay on track and prioritize healthy choices. By teaching my girls about the value of food as fuel, I was also able to determine if what I was eating was fuel for my body or something else, like boredom or comfort.
Becoming more intentional about my food choices led to a 20-pound weight loss. Feeling empowered by this loss (and consequently having more energy from a body that was now functioning on fuel rather than sugar), I focused on adding in 30-60 minutes of activity, three days a week.
Becoming more intentional about my food choices led to a 20-pound weight loss. Feeling empowered by this loss, I focused on adding in 30-60 minutes of activity, three days a week.
It wasn’t long before these changes became a habit and I found myself looking forward to fitting in physical activity five days a week. There were plenty of plateaus and it took a little over a year to get to where I am now, but always staying focused on my goals eventually led to a 125-pound loss and a feeling of confidence and strength that had been absent from my daily life for so long.
By rooting my goals in something personal, I have been able to stay motivated and change my health and quality of life for good.
Related: How I Quit Dieting And Finally Stopped My Weight From Fluctuating
Gregg Johnson, 61
84 Pounds Lost
A couple of years ago, my scale topped out at 360 pounds, and I knew it was finally time to get fit for good. I also realized that if I wanted to stay active and healthy as I got older, I was going to have to get back in shape. Friends my age were becoming more sedentary and I didn’t want to go that route.
So I got a personal trainer and told him I wanted to lose weight, and that I wanted to be stronger at 70 than I was at 59. We started slowly, but stayed consistent. At the same time, I was also working with an endocrinologist who suggested chaining my macros in terms of fat, protein, and carbs.
My fasting blood sugar was 102-107, and while I was not considered diabetic, my insulin levels were consistently high. So I moved to a 60 percent fat, 25 percent protein, and 15 percent carbohydrate macro profile, and began to log my food and calorie burn in order to see what worked, what didn’t, and what needed to change.
I continued to hit the gym three times a week, rotating HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and strength work and then adding in agility, balance, and speed work. I also incorporated exogenous ketones and a modified ketogenic diet rotating through phases of ketosis with carb reloading phases.
I continued to hit the gym three times a week, rotating HIIT and strength work and then adding in agility, balance, and speed work.
A little over three years later, I had lost 75 plus pounds, while adding about 22 pounds of muscle mass. I would still like to lose another 30-40 pounds, but I recognize this is a process and I’m not worried about how long it might take me to get there. I am faster, stronger, and more mobile, flexible, and active than I’ve been in years, and that is all that matters.
Related: Shop weight-management products to help you stay on track.
Helen Dean, 51
65 Pounds Lost
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been riding horses. It’s been my lifelong passion. But about five years ago, I gained a considerable amount of weight and it became harder for me to get into the saddle. Riding for just a few hours made my back, knees, and bum ache.
I started swimming at the YMCA hoping that the added activity would help with my blood pressure and ultimately relieve the pain I felt, yet while it did help with lowering and managing my blood pressure, I could never seem to lose any of the weight.
Frustrated with feeling physically broken every time I rode my horse, and tired of not losing any weight from swimming, I decided to start eating healthy. I thought about the weight I’d gained from bad eating habits and said to myself: “I’m no longer going to allow something as trivial as unhealthy eating stop me from doing what I love.”
When the chance to join and participate in the Weight Watchers at Work program at my workplace came up, I took it and never looked back. Their new program—which has a focus on the whole self and not just your weight—has worked perfectly for me.
I said to myself: ‘I’m no longer going to allow something as trivial as unhealthy eating stop me from doing what I love.’
The combination of eating healthy (managing my caloric intake by using the Weight Watchers point system) and exercising regularly has changed my life forever. I’ve lost 65 pounds so far, and I’m still going for more.
Even though my journey is still a work in progress, I know I’m going to meet my goal this time and keep the weight off. Something I know my horse certainly appreciates!