Weight loss success stories
Losing weight and keeping it off is no easy feat; many people who drop pounds wind up gaining them all back. But the following 15 women prove that lasting weight loss success is possible—and that it's a goal that can be within reach for anyone with some determination and willpower. Each of them lost 50 pounds (or more!), and have prevented the pounds from creeping back on. Get inspired by their before and after photos, and discover their strategies so you can use them yourself.
Photo: Tim Black
30, 5'7", New Orleans
BEFORE: 220 lb., size 18
AFTER: 155 lb., size 4
TOTAL LOST: 65 lb., 7 sizes
Paige's weight loss tips:
Keep inspiration everywhere: I always have my phone background set to a motivational quote. Words of wisdom like "If you want it, work for it" offer a little pick-me-up every time I look at the screen.
Don't fixate on pounds: Throughout my journey, I have always relied on active goals, like running a 5K or building muscle, to measure my progress. Working toward real-life results is way more rewarding than obsessing over a number on the scale.
Find delicious swaps: Instead of giving up my favorite comfort foods completely, I make them healthier. For example, for my good-for-you hash browns, I cook one shredded sweet potato in a tablespoon of coconut oil until it's soft and crispy, then I top it with cinnamon and sea salt. Talk about yummy!
Photo: Pete Springer
40, 5'2", Beaverton, Ore.
BEFORE: 340 lb., size 26
AFTER: 129 lb., size 2
TOTAL LOST: 211 lb., 12 sizes
Emily's weight loss tips:
Aim for 15: When I'm dreading a workout, I tell myself to try to make it through the first 15 minutes. After that point, I almost always feel more energized and want to keep going.
Find a unique reward: Instead of celebrating with food when I hit a goal, I treat myself to something healthy, such as a hike with my husband or a massage.
Change your vocab: I used to tell myself that I "couldn't" have something, which made me crave it even more. Now I say I "don't" engage in an unhealthy habit. It's a little trick that makes the behavior seem less like a choice and more like part of my lifestyle.
Nail down your emotion: I created my own mood emojis to help monitor how I feel after every workout and meal. This lets me keep tabs on what's working for me and what's not.
Photo: Matt Andrews
25, 6'0", Jackson, Tenn.
BEFORE: 304 lb., size 26
AFTER: 190 lb., size 10
TOTAL LOST: 114 lb., 8 sizes
Laura's weight loss tips:
Instagram it!: After I lost my first 40 pounds, I created an Instagram account to track my fitness. As my number of followers grew, so did my motivation. Being part of a community kept me accountable.
Score free fitness: There are a lot of weight-loss programs that cost big bucks, but there are also plenty of reputable online resources that give you the same benefits for free. One of my faves: Blogilates by Cassey Ho.
Buy a band: When I'm unable to get to the gym, I turn to my resistance band; it's an easy and portable way to add in strength training on the go.
Mind the menu: I love eating out, but restaurants offer too many temptations. To keep from consuming calorie bombs in the moment, I choose a healthy option from the menu ahead of time.
Photo: Matt Godfrey
43, 5'4", Marietta, Penn.
BEFORE: 209 lb., size 20
AFTER: 133 lb., size 2-4
TOTAL LOST: 76 lb., 9 dress sizes
Casie's weight loss tips:
Bag it up: I portion out all my snacks, like almonds or sliced apples, ahead of time in ziplock bags. This lets me take my healthy eats anywhere while keeping my serving sizes in check.
Crush a quickie workout: On extra-busy days, I do a Tabata sequence—in just 20 minutes, I can get a full-body workout. It really revs up my heart rate.
Write it out: When I'm dreading the gym, I grab a pen and paper and map out my workout; having a game plan prevents me from wasting time or slacking off during my session.
Find sweet swaps: I love peanut butter. To avoid some of the fat that comes with it, I mix the powdered kind, PB2, into Greek yogurt. It gives me that nutty, creamy taste without the guilt.
34, 5'1¾", Reno, Nev.
BEFORE: 198 lb., size 16
AFTER: 115 lb., size 2
TOTAL LOST: 83 lb., 7 sizes
Shannon's weight loss tips:
Rock your motivation: At the gym, I wear bright clothes with fun sayings like "Drink coffee, put on some gangster rap and handle it." It sets my workout tone.
Try an apple: If I'm not hungry enough for an apple, then I'm not really hungry. Anytime a strong craving hits, I'll eat an apple first to help curb my appetite.
Judge your labels: I always peruse food labels. Whenever there's something listed that I can't grow or make myself, I put the item back. It makes weeding out unhealthy processed foods much easier.
Indulge wisely: A lot of people have weekend cheat days, but that adds up to 104 a year! Instead of depriving myself all week and bingeing on the weekend, I choose sweets that fuel my body, like Trader Joe's Coconut Cashews.
Photo: King Lawrence
34, 5'8", Phoenix
BEFORE: 230 lb., size 14
AFTER145 lb., size 6/8
TOTAL LOST: 85 lb., 3-4 sizes
Erica's weight loss tips:
Schedule sweat sessions: Raising two girls keeps me pretty busy, so I have to be really creative about fitting in exercise. My ideal window: when my youngest goes down for her nap and the other is at school. I treat workouts as meetings that I absolutely cannot miss.
Hang out far from the kitchen: I always crave sweets after dinner while watching TV. To avoid temptation, I'll go upstairs to watch my shows instead of sitting in the living room, which is attached to the kitchen. That way, I'm less likely to scavenge.
Invest in a slow cooker: It's the ultimate time-saver. First thing in the morning, I throw in something simple, like turkey and sweet potatoes, and at the end of the day, I have a delicious and nutritious meal waiting for me.
Photo: Tommy Garcia
38, 5'6", El Monte, Calif.
BEFORE: 217 lb., size 16
AFTER: 140 lb., size 6
TOTAL LOST: 77 lb., 5 sizes
Maribel's weight loss tips:
Pick a power playlist: Starting off my workouts with pump-me-up songs like "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift keeps me motivated throughout the session.
Find a mantra: On days when I want to give up, I repeat these words: "I'm very strong; I can do this." Just saying the sentence out loud stops me from feeling weak.
Broadcast your goals: I decided to register for a 12-week body transformation contest at my gym. When I joined the challenge, I told everyone about my plan to win. The fear of losing and having to admit to all my friends that I failed kept me going.
Photo: Jay Sullivan
41, 5'6", Hauppauge, N.Y.
BEFORE: 210 lb., size 16
AFTER: 135 lb., size 6
TOTAL LOST: 75 lb., 5 sizes
Jennifer's weight loss tips:
Set scary goals: My goal is to run 100 miles in a month. I finally hit it (and then some) this past August, with 104.
Spiralize it!: As an Italian-American, I find it tough to cut out pasta, but I use zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash instead. It's just as delicious!
Carry a Mary Poppins purse: My bag is always packed with healthy snacks like nuts, apples and hard-boiled eggs. It stops me from getting so hungry that I overeat.
Photo: Laura Barisonzi
25, 5'3", Bradley Beach, N.J.
BEFORE: 183 lb., size 12
AFTER: 123 lb., size 2
TOTAL LOST: 60 lb., 5 sizes
Danica's weight loss tips:
Bring your gym anywhere: I love the Cardio Sculpt and Black Fire videos on DailyBurn. They're amazing for tightening my abs!
Pump the beats: I'm a music writer, so I'm always adding to my workout playlists. Social Distortion's "Highway 101" is an old fave!
Get good grains: My power pick: quinoa. It's versatile and filling. I add it to salads with sliced grapes.
Photo: John Trice
43, 5'2", San Diego
BEFORE: 175 lb., size 10-12
AFTER: 113 lb., size 2
TOTAL LOST: 62 lb., 4 sizes
Natalie's weight loss tips:
Inject some fun: When I'm looking for workout motivation, I pull out my favorite neon exercise clothes for a burst of energy. Plus, yellow and pink make me feel upbeat!
Hit the floor: My go-to: plank-based moves. They're great for shaping your abs and upper body. Just make sure you're engaging your core, keeping your glutes tight and tucking your pelvis under to protect your lower back.
Think: Healthy fats: I eat a lot of protein-packed meals filled with good fats. My favorite is shrimp with a ton of veggies, all cooked up in coconut oil.
Photo: Justin Clemons
35, 5'3" Waco, Texas
BEFORE: 210 lb., size 16
AFTER: 132 lb., size 4
TOTAL LOST: 78 lb., 6 sizes
Bianca's weight loss tips:
Get grilling: I love grilled shrimp tacos on corn tortillas. They're full of flavor, low on calories and easy to make.
Pump up your playlist: My workout jams are super eclectic—Latin, pop and contemporary Christian music! Right now I love "Soul on Fire," by Third Day, for when I hit the stair climber.
Try a training plan: After doing Jamie Eason's free 12-week LiveFit strength-training program at bodybuilding.com, I wore a bikini for the first time since I was 5!
Photo: Matt Godfrey
27, 5'7", North Wales, Penn.
BEFORE: 236 lb., size 18
AFTER: 140 lb., size 2
TOTAL LOST: 96 lb., 8 sizes
Suheily's weight loss tips:
Eat yogurt for a flat belly: When I have more Greek yogurt (I like Yoplait's tropical flavors), even for just a week, my tummy is instantly flatter.
Get your probiotics: It's a Korean stew made of kimchi, tofu, chili pepper, pork belly, red pepper paste, sesame oil and scallions, and it's pretty low-cal, too.
Photo: Scott Bell
26, 5'8", Chicago
BEFORE: 328 lb., size 28
AFTER 154 lb., size 4
TOTAL LOST: 174 lb., 12 sizes
Annabelle's weight loss tips:
Track with an app: MyFitnessPal helped me become more aware of what I was putting into my body.
Pack DIY snacks: My go-to pumpkin-spice cream cheese muffins are protein-filled to keep me satisfied longer.
Lighten up meals: I make low-cal versions of my fave gourmet foods, like stuffed portobello mushrooms.
Find a better indulgence: I top berries, nectarines and cherries with homemade whipped cream, nuts and dark chocolate.
Photo: Matt Godfrey
32, 5'9", Reading, Penn.
BEFORE: 205 lb., size 16
AFTER: 135 lb., size 4/6
TOTAL LOST: 70 lb., 6 sizes
Erika's weight loss tips:
Snap your progress: I'd take photos of myself and send them to my mom as a record of how well I was doing. I still send her selfies occasionally!
Eat sweets early: I like to have dessert (cookies, cake) at breakfast. This way, I have the entire day to burn it off.
Say yes to seltzer: Swapping soda for sparkling water made a big difference. I especially like Walmart's Clear American in key lime flavor. It's like lemon-lime soda—without all the calories.
Cook with coconut oil: It's a must in my kitchen because it's a healthier alternative to some other fats. When I lightly fry food, like my homemade chicken fingers, it gives a slightly sweeter flavor.
Photo: Patrick Molnar
30, 5'3", Fairburn, Ga.
BEFORE: 174 lb., size 14
AFTER: 114 lb., size 0/2
TOTAL LOST: 60 lb., 6 sizes
Erica's weight loss tips:
Cheat with chocolate: Cheat times are an everyday necessity for me. I like to treat myself to little bit of chocolate at each meal so that I never feel deprived.
Prep meals on Sundays: Every Sunday, I precook my meals, storing four to five days' worth of salads in Tupperware. This simplifies my life.
Snack like the Greeks: My go-to is a mix of tomatoes, cucumbers, olive oil, fresh garlic and a little lemon juice. Yum!