Last updated: Feb 05, 2015
twyla grimes
courtesy of Twyla Grimes (right), Felix Sanchez (left)
I was never a healthy eater. In fact, the only reason I was able to stay thin for so long was that I was a cardio addict. That ended when I remarried in 2011; focusing on my newly blended family left little time for workouts. The result: I put on 25 pounds in less than a year. One time, someone even asked when my baby was due! Still, it wasn't until December 2012, when I saw a video of myself looking doughy all over, that I knew it was time to take action.


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Up for the challenge
I started 2013 off with a promise to exercise but didn't get my butt in gear until February, when I joined the Labrada Lean Body Challenge, a 12-week fitness contest. Through it, I learned about strength training, which I did nightly. I also made sure to fit in an hour on the stairmill or treadmill each morning before work. I shed 18 pounds in three months.

Back to basics
I also focused on eating better; I measured and weighed everything. The hardest part was cleaning up my cooking habits. I learned to use zero-calorie seasonings, as well as olive oil instead of butter, sugar and salt. The results quickly showed; I peeled off 2 to 3 pounds each week. Then the scale started creeping up again, but this time it was because of the lean muscle I was building. I didn't mind it—those new, "strong" pounds whittled my body fat percentage down by more than 15 percent! Seeing my frame transform made it clear to me that I needed to stop feeling guilty for making myself a priority—to be a good mom, I had to be a healthy one.

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4 Tips to Keep Pounds Away
How does Twyla stay so lean and toned? Check out her favorite strategies below, and find even more tactics at health.com/weight-loss-stories.

Sweat with your spouse
My hubby and I make exercise outings "our" time. We'll go to the gym for an hour and lift weights together. Having him there keeps me accountable.

Swap out store-bought
I make healthier versions of sweets: For chocolate chip cookies, I use unsweetened applesauce instead of butter and sub in oat flour for white.

Workout must: Military press
There is something about this exercise that makes me feel empowered and strong. Plus, I love training my shoulders, and this really works that part of my body.

Pull out that stopwatch
I love that I can jog three miles in 24 minutes now; before, it took me 46 minutes! Tracking my running times and seeing how far I've come helps me stay committed.