Weight loss is about numbers: Burn more calories than you eat or drink. But it's also personal.
Everyone is different, and there are so many diets and workouts to choose from. What's right for you?
It can help to get inspiration from people who have been where you are now and have lost the weight. Start with these six stories from people who dropped the pounds and got healthier.
Petrina Hamm, online fitness coach, Apex, NC
Lost 100 pounds
How she lost it: Hamm went on the Atkins diet, followed by a sensible eating plan that watched portion sizes and avoided processed foods and refined sugars. “I started with a gym membership but moved to home workouts like P90X and Insanity, which I loved.”
Her snacks: “Cherries dipped in cocoa almond butter, roasted kale chips, and veggies with hummus.”
How she stayed on track: “My husband became my support system. We made workouts our bonding time.”
Her advice: “Take it one day at a time! You didn't gain weight overnight. You're not going to lose it overnight.”
Allison Keller, teacher, Houston
Lost 60 pounds
How she lost it: Weight Watchers and exercise. “I began working out once a week, then increased to 5 days. Enjoying what I did was key.” When running on the treadmill became boring, she switched to indoor cycling and kickboxing.
Snacks: “Bananas, cucumber slices, grapes, and carrots I could take on the go.”
How she stayed on track: “Attending weekly WW meetings helped me stay accountable. If I slipped one week, the support of the community got me right back on track.”
Her advice: “Avoid temptations. I stopped buying ice cream and chips because I knew if they were in my house, I’d eat them.”
Scott Martin, nurse, Orange County, CA
Lost 67 pounds
How he lost it:The Atkins diet, personalized diet meals delivered to his house, and regular exercise.
“I started running, although I could only go one block at first. Eventually, I was working out 6 days a week on Bowflex’s MAX Trainer [a full-body home workout machine] or a boot camp class.”
His snacks: “Anything low-carb -- cheese, turkey, even cooked shrimp.”
How he stayed on track: “An app called Run Tracker let me see my progress. My family motivated me, too. I wanted to be healthy for them.”
His advice: “Start with a fitness goal that’s attainable; then increase your exercise week to week.”
Jessica Partain, jewelry designer, Charlottesville, VA
Lost 31 pounds
How she lost it: Partain took a high-tech approach. She went to an exercise lab to check her resting metabolic rate and used an online calculator to estimate how many calories she burned daily.
Then, she tracked the foods she ate in a journal, staying several hundred calories under that threshold every day.
“I also did activities that didn’t feel like exercise, like salsa dancing and hiking, and added effort to daily activities, like walking to errands.”
Snacks: “I ate smaller portions of calorie-dense foods, and made a fruit or veggie part of every treat, like apples and peanut butter or cucumber and hummus.”
How she stayed on track: “Keeping a food log taught me about portions and made it easier to see how different proportions of carbs, protein, and fat made me feel.”
Her advice: “Instead of following restrictive rules, I ate the way I plan to eat the rest of my life. There’s no perfect way to lose weight and no good or bad foods, only what works best for you.”
Eli Sapharti, weight loss coach, Miami, FL
Lost 110 pounds
How he lost it: Walking 15 minutes each day and giving up sugary beverages. Then every 2 weeks, Sapharti added time and intensity to his walks.
“I started jogging just 10 seconds, but eventually I was running 5Ks, then 10Ks, then half-marathons.”
His snacks: “Rice cakes with sugar-free jelly, air popcorn, and grapes.”
How he stayed on track: “I didn’t focus on the weight I had to lose or how long it would take me, but the difference I saw in my body and how I felt.”
His advice: “Weight loss is about breaking down the seemingly impossible into small possibilities. Do something today to get a little healthier.”
Beverly Simon, naval engineer, Burtonsville, MD
Lost 110 pounds
How she lost it: She followed Ian Smith, MD's Shred: The Revolutionary Diet, which combines a low glycemic index diet with meal spacing and meal replacements.
“I hated exercising but found that I loved Zumba! Because I have arthritis, I also did low-impact workouts like deep-water running and water aerobics.”
Snacks: “Prepackaged SHRED foods, like individual bags of popcorn and peanut protein bars, are convenient and filled me up.”
How she stayed on track: “The incredible support from Shredder Nation on Facebook. I also began following Dr. Ian’s health tips on Twitter.”
Her advice: “Your health is more important than what the scale reads. Today, my cholesterol is well within normal limits and I’m no longer prediabetic. I’m in better shape than I ever have been!”