With the help of a fitness challenge, Twyla Grimes made her health a priority and lost major pounds along the way.

By As told to Rozalynn S. Frazier
August 25, 2015
courtesy of Twyla Grimes (right), Felix Sanchez (left)

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.

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