Traveling to tsunami-ravaged Sri Lanka inspired April Risteffo to appreciate what she eats—and drop 49 pounds.

April Restiff Santa Monica, Calif. Age: 36
| Credit: Courtesy April Risteff

April Restiff
Santa Monica, Calif.
Age: 36
Courtesy April RisteffApril Risteff
36, 5'4"
Santa Monica, Calif.

Before: 160 lb., size 14/16
After: 111 lb., size 2/4

Total pounds lost: 49 lb.
Sizes lost: 6

I was always slim growing up, but when I was in college and my early 20s, my weight climbed to 160 pounds. I know that my typical dinner—a mixture of cream cheese, chili and shredded Cheddar served with lime tortilla chips—was largely to blame. I'm a high school teacher, and those doughnuts I ate daily in the faculty lounge didn't help. Still, it wasn't until December 2004, when I couldn't make it up the stairs at school without huffing, that I realized how far I had let myself go. And I was only 27!

Gym for one
When January arrived, I created a home gym, with an elliptical, a weight-lifting machine and free weights. I started slow, doing just 20 minutes of cardio a day. I also cut out processed carbs. While the weight was slow to come off (it took me six months to lose my first 8 pounds), my progress was enough to keep me moving forward.

A pivotal trip
My real turning point came when I headed to Sri Lanka over the summer to do tsunami cleanup. Seeing what little food the Sri Lankans had not only made me more aware of how blessed I was to be able to choose my food options but also convinced me to pick healthier ones. When I got home, I ditched the packaged food and ramped up my workouts. Then the weight really started falling off.

By the end of 2006, I had reached my feel-great weight of 111 pounds. I've kept the weight off for eight years! My husband and I are trying for a baby, and I'm confident that I'm giving my body the right combo of nutrition and exercise to get me through pregnancy.

Credit: Tommy Garcia

Tommy GarciaSecrets of a 49-Pound Loser
These little strategies helped April reclaim her high school figure. Find even more tips at

A New Kind of Tex-Mex
I gave up cheesy dips for quinoa taco salads (quinoa, lettuce, pinto beans and avocado). Yum!

Get Digital
There are so many great apps out there, but I really love Sworkit (free on iTunes and Google Play); it gives me tons of circuit-training options, which keeps my workouts from getting boring.

Set Small Milestones
I started with 20 minutes of cardio and increased it by five minutes a month till I made it to a full hour.

Protein + Fiber = Success
I always try to combine protein and vegetables in my meals—together they keep me feeling satiated and less like snacking.