“Weighing myself every day helped me track my progress, but what helped the most was comparing myself to photos from before I lost the weight. It was like, 'Oh my goodness; I can't believe the difference from a 50-pound weight loss!' The most memorable moment was when I was out to dinner with a good friend, and he took a selfie of us. When I saw the picture, I was like, ‘Damn! I have lost weight!’ I put that picture next to one from a few months earlier and was so proud of my progress. Looking at those photos daily definitely served as motivation and helped me stick to a healthy lifestyle.” —Jennifer Carroll, 41
About: Laura is a health coach whose passion to help others overcome addiction and gain a satisfying life comes from her own history: For years she battled addiction (to food, cigarettes and many other things) and was taught to believe that as a woman, she was less valuable than a man. Trapped in her own mind and truly miserable, Laura one day realized that the key to overcoming her addictions was to make deliberate choices for every single thing she did — a mindset that taught her just how valuable she is. Now, she’s an extraordinarily strong-willed champion of women’s health who shares her knowledge and expertise with others. A true inspiration on so many levels.
Even though I was burning plenty of calories through exercise, I knew my eating habits were preventing me from losing weight. I wasn’t eating unhealthy foods – I stuck with salads, turkey sandwiches, and stir-fry dishes – I was just eating too much of everything. I started tracking my daily calories online. Counting calories really helped me understand my overblown portion sizes and just how many calories I was consuming.
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After a cancer diagnosis sent her normally healthy lifestyle off-course, flight attendant Tracey Z. Dickson was heavier than she had ever been. When she was declared cancer-free, she hopped back on the treadmill and got her diet in order—and went from 158 pounds to 117. One of her diet secrets? "Instead of dessert, I'll have a baked sweet potato sprinkled with cinnamon," she says. "It tastes like I'm eating sweet potato pie, but for a ton less calories." For more healthy ideas on how to get your sugar fix, check out these desserts with 150 calories (or less).
About: Andie’s well-known for her New York Times bestselling memoir “It Was Me All Along” where she chronicles how she lost 135 pounds 10 years ago. But it’s her blog that drew us to her for this list, especially considering that she’s managed all this time to KEEP that weight off. Andie also wrote a cookbook, “Eating in the Middle,” featuring (mostly) healthy recipes. Plus, Andie’s blog is chock full of healthy recipes too (and the occasional indulgence), lessons she learned while losing weight and how she transformed her relationship with food and her body.
Numerous studies have supported this, such as a 2007 study published in the International Journal of Obesity, which concluded that aerobic exercise like brisk walking is essential for visceral fat reduction, and a past study published in Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine found that women who walked less than 7,500 steps a day had more belly fat than those who met or exceeded that goal.
Choosing fiber-rich foods is a great way to fill yourself up and stay full for several hours. When we consume foods rich in fiber, it takes quite a while for our body to break down the food. Plus, when you eat whole grains, your blood sugar doesn’t spike the way it does when you eat refined products. Not only are the constant blood sugar surges that happen after eating refined carbohydrates bad for your thighs, they are linked to increased weight gain, metabolic syndrome, and a host of other health problems (4).
“After reaching my highest weight of 240 pounds in July 2014, I decided to make a life change. I was on Facebook and saw my sister was looking thinner and thinner in each picture. She introduced me to Take Shape For Life and it transformed my life! It combines the personalized support of a health coach to give you the resources and skills you need to live healthier for the long term. I was on the plan that consists of eating five healthy "fuelings" throughout the day, along with one healthy meal of lean protein and low carb vegetables. I continue to eat six small meals throughout the day. Additionally, I’ve found a new hobby and began working out. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would say to my husband before leaving the house, ‘I’m going to work out.’ Now I work out four times a week!”
The Lose Weight Diet is simple because it isn't based on a gimmick or a fad. Like I said, it is the anti-fad diet plan. It cuts right to the chase and eliminates all of the unnecessary tasks most commercial weight loss diet plans require you to do. After all, it's those unnecessary tasks that are supposed to make their diet program stand out and appeal to you in the first place. Why? So they can make money.
About: It may be tough to tell by looking at her photo (complete with a very toned tummy), but Hannah’s no stranger to gaining weight. She packed on about 50 pounds each time she became pregnant with her two kids until she eventually went from a size 4 to a size 12-14. The pregnancies also changed her body and made her unhappy with the way she looked. Ready for change, Hannah created a fitness and food plan for herself, stuck to it and noticed she slowly but surely lost weight and started to look more and more toned. Now she’s studying to be a personal trainer, and her blog is a place she shares all her fitness tips, nutrition ideas and motivation to help others lose weight too.
Studies suggest that healthy behavior can be contagious and something as simple as just posting about running on your social media can influence your friends and followers to go for a run (93). But is it possible to have to much of a good thing? Can a constant overload of fitness pictures of ripped abs and physiques flooding your feed wreck your self esteem?
In a 2012 study in the journal Obesity, subjects who increased their soluble fiber intake by 10 grams a day—the equivalent of two small apples, one cup of green peas, and one half-cup of pinto beans—reduced visceral fat by 3.7 percent after five years. Even more, participants who also engaged in moderate physical activity (exercising vigorously two to four times a week) experienced a 7.4 decrease in visceral fat over the same period of time.
Because HIIT is harder on your body than steady-state cardio, you will require adequate rest to gain the most benefits, so don't feel bad for taking a day off. A good rule of thumb is to decrease the number of days you exercise as the load gets heavier. For example, HIIT using just your body weight can be done 3-5 days a week for 20-30 minute sessions.
A very long time ago, during cave-dwelling years, these areas of stored, stubborn fat in the thigh and hip area helped women survive without much food or water. The pear-shaped women were better-equipped to survive and have babies and pass down the tendency to store fat in a similar way. This is why, throughout most of their lives, females tend to have a higher body fat percentage than males.