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Jaci's Story: Changing her Life With Small Steps

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Jaci's story

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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.

Jaci's tips

Ask Jaci what has helped her lose weight, and she rattles off the list:

  • Cutting down on fast food.
  • Learning to control portion sizes.
  • Exercising 5 days a week.
  • Eating breakfast. "I never used to eat breakfast. I had to force myself to eat breakfast. It gives your body fuel. I used to go without breakfast and lunch and then at dinner, I would just gorge. I'd be starving."
  • Eating her favorite foods. If she has a craving for french fries, she will eat a small portion or get a kid's meal if she is at a fast-food place.
  • Eating her vegetables. "I love all vegetables."
  • Being choosy when eating out. "I'll look for something that is low in fat. I try to eat half of it and box half of it." Sometimes she will share a meal.
  • Eating fish. "I never used to like fish before." She thinks fish that she had before may not have been fresh or cooked right.
  • Having healthy snacks. "I find that really helps. I'll have an apple or almonds."
  • Writing down everything she eats.
  • Cooking at home as much as possible. "We do a lot of vegetables. Asparagus has been a big thing with us. The kids like it. My husband likes it. Grilled stuff—chicken. We grill a lot of vegetables."
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 21, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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