Weight loss is hard. It's not black and white, and it's certainly not cookie cutter. There are struggles, setbacks, and times you might wonder, "Why did I even start? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?" But with these stories from women who achieved their success in all different ways, we can gain a strong sense of hope.
There's a different approach for everyone, and each woman's winning combination of tools is different. That said, there are a few common themes that we've noticed again and again, ones that you can implement no matter what your body type, habits, or goals. We've interviewed women who have lost between 25 and 225 pounds; their three best tips (collectively) were about movement, mindful eating, and support systems. We'll let them tell you exactly how these things worked in their journeys and how each contributed to their overall success.
Though some women really went hard and opted for six or more days of workouts, not everyone needed such a strenuous schedule to lose the weight. It's just about moving more. For Katie who lost over 200 pounds and Brooke and Hailey who each lost over 100, each of them aimed to reach 10,000 steps per day, tracking with either a Fitbit or a phone app. Setting an attainable goal that equates to just walking a little bit extra is attainable and can add up over time. In fact, it's one of celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak's best weight-loss tips - and these women are living proof that it works.
"I have actually found that exercise replaced food as an excellent way to relieve stress and make me feel in control."
If you're already somewhat active, adding in some more workouts is key. For Kara (who lost 40 pounds), her key was variety. "I am a member at a couple of local fitness studios in our neighborhood that offer Spin, barre, yoga, and circuit classes; therefore, on the days we work our legs and booty, I'll take a barre class with a friend. If cardio is on the schedule, I'll take a Spin class. I work out five to six days a week."
The more you move, the more it'll become part of your daily routine. "I love working out and have actually found that it replaced food as an excellent way to relieve stress and make me feel in control," said Hailey. "On an average week, I work out four to six times and try to keep it as fresh and engaging as possible."
Most of the women we talked to who had accomplished major weight loss attributed their healthier weight to more mindful eating and conscious choices. "Preparing meals at home is one of the most effective ways to manage weight," said Brooke, but she also mentioned that "it has to be easy and enjoyable or it won't happen consistently."
Caitlin, who lost 25 pounds, is also more deliberate with her food and conscious of how her body feels when she eats. "I try to allow myself to eat out and trust myself to choose options that I know will allow me to feel good afterwards and to stop when I'm full. I try to just check in with myself like, 'Do you really want that?'" Kara had similar sentiments. She told POPSUGAR that she focuses on healthier choices but still loves food, so she monitors how her choices make her feel physically. "If I do indulge in a heavy, unhealthy meal, my body now reacts poorly, as it's become so accustomed to clean ingredients; therefore, I find myself struggling to gather energy or I'll feel just plain sick, so I've really stopped eating anything I know is going to make me feel sluggish."
"It's all about knowing what is good or bad for your body, being aware of what you're consuming, said Kat, who lost 40 pounds. "As long as it's healthy calories, the weight will come off." Speaking of healthy calories, part of deliberate and mindful eating includes being educated and learning as much as you can about your food. Taylor, a woman who lost about 25 pounds, used that education as an advantage in her weight-loss journey. "I am aware of more calorie-dense options like the healthy fats in almond butter, coconut oil, and avocado, and I am mindful to keep those in moderation."
Find Motivation in Community
For Becca, it was Weight Watchers that helped with her 100-pound weight loss. She used the community and the app as a way to stay on track. "You can see amazing before and after pictures, recipes, and tips," she said. "It really helps to keep me motivated."
Brooke found strength in the BBG community, saying, "It's empowering to be vulnerable about our flaws, share our goals, and cheer each other on." She noted that before finding the other women through BBG, that she "carried around a tremendous amount of shame" about her weight. "It was liberating to let go of that and realize that I wasn't alone."
"It was liberating to let go of that shame and realize that I wasn't alone."
Ensuring that you have that support and don't feel isolated is paramount to the success you'll see on your own journey. Kara told us that her "accountability partner" is the person who keeps her in check and keeps her going to "a 6 a.m. Spin or circuit class one to two times a week." Whether it's a best friend, significant other, co-worker, parent, or family member, you need to find someone who can hold you accountable and help you get through any and all setbacks.
For both Caitlin and Cait (who has yet another amazing weight-loss success story), that support came from Tone It Up. Upon finding the community on Instagram, Cait said, "It was the first time I realized maybe I can do this, and it doesn't have to be torture. These girls were just like me." That identity and support helped Cait reach her goals. "I started forming new habits, pushing myself to new heights, trying new workouts, sometimes failing, sometimes shining, but always being supported through my ups and downs. I loved supporting others and loved seeing the girls cheer me on!"
Caitlin said that "the TIU community was a total support system for me and still is," noting that it extended well beyond her weight loss. "The women in the community are incredible and will support, encourage, and listen as you go through whatever journey you're on. These women share through pregnancies, losses, marriages. . . . It's not just weight, but the emotional factors that usually are the drivers of our bad habits. I went to the Tone It Up retreat 2015 where I got to meet a bunch of the women I felt I already knew from following them on Instagram, and I am so happy I can now call them my friends."