Whatever you do, don't tell Jaci that you can tell she's been on a diet. The 30-year-old mother of two feels strongly that losing 65 pounds over 4 years was the result of permanent lifestyle changes-not dieting.
"I actually get mad at people when they say, 'You've been on a diet.' I'm not on a diet. I've never been on a diet. I just changed the way I eat. I changed the way I live."
If you're looking for an example of how making small, gradual changes can make a big difference in how you feel and look, Jaci's the one to turn to.
How it started
Jaci says she was watching her two boys grow and felt like she was missing out. "I was too shy, too self-conscious to go out and do anything," she says. "I didn't like meeting new people. I didn't feel good. I didn't feel like me. I didn't want to go to the park."
So she started eating smaller portions, and she cut down on fast foods-little steps that still allowed her to eat some of her favorite foods (like french fries, cheesecake, and chocolate chip cookies) once in a while. And she started exercising.
She lost about 50 pounds and then hit a plateau. "I got stuck for a year," she says. "It wasn't a big deal, because I felt like I was maintaining it. I think my body just got comfortable where it was at."
Getting through those plateaus
For Jaci, more exercise was the key to breaking through plateaus. Her two boys started football, and she began walking and running around the track while they practiced. "Instead of going home like a lot of people do, I do the track while I'm at football practice."
These days, exercise is a regular part of her life and her family's life. "We ride dirt bikes. We do a lot of outdoor activities. We started skiing again last year. That's been a new thing since I lost the weight. We started waterskiing again last summer."
Now Jaci tries to exercise at least 5 days a week. When she's not running around a track, she uses an elliptical exercise machine, a treadmill, a recumbent bike, a regular exercise bike, and weights. She also has a gym membership. She varies her exercise throughout the year-running track when her kids are in football practice and playing basketball with them when they have basketball at school.