This article is a collection of stories & advice different people have sent us on how they were able to lose weight, and the #1 things that helped them lose weight and keep it off. Please note that none of this is intended as professional health advice. Rather, my aim is to hopefully inspire you a little and perhaps give you some ideas that you could consider and research further if you are interested. And always make sure to consult with your doctor before starting any kind of radical new weight loss plan. 🙂
Here are the main points people have made so far, along with links to their submissions and/or stories:
- Take cold showers (link)
- Consider a plant-based diet (link)
- Focus on a shorter time period, such as only long enough to get your first compliment from someone (link) – then it’s easier to keep going
- Stop jumping from one quick fix to the next, and acknowledge that this is a lifestyle change (link)
- Consider intermittent fasting where you eat in an 8 hour time window, followed by a 16 hour fast (link)
- Deal with the issues that got you overweight in the first place (link)
- Set an alarm to start cooking (link) so you cook a healthy meal while you have plenty of time. This makes it less likely for you to succumb to rubbish fast food
- Log your food (link) – there are plenty of apps for this such as myfitnesspal
- Have a clear and detailed picture in your head of how you want to look (link)
- Eat fresh from ingredients you cook yourself (link)
- Get away from the “all or nothing” mentality (link) where you give up the moment you have the slightest setback (EDITORS NOTE: Also known as the what-the-hell effect)
- Eat food as close to its natural state as possible – no processed foods (link)
- Use a smaller plate, put your fork down after each bite, and close your eyes when you chew your food (link)
- Consider changing your goals more to “fueling and training” as opposed to “dieting and exercising” (link)
- Consider just eating less of what you’re already eating, rather than going on a diet (link)
- Make small changes and focus on being consistent (link)
- Learn the science behind weight loss (link)
- Incorporate strength training and weight lifting (link)
And if you have your own weight loss story to share, you’re welcome to submit it to us. Make a submission here and we’ll add it to this article.
Cold Showers! Wait, let me explain. There are several physical benefits to cold showers such as reduced inflammation, increased weight loss, reduced blood sugar and increased mental clarity. But on top of all of those benefits is something psychological, not physical. It's the art of keeping a promise to yourself. Despite the adversity, despite the challenge, it's the ability to enter into the cold each day which builds resilience in your mind. If you can master the cold first thing in the morning, then I would argue that is the hardest part of your day, done. Anything else after should be much easier to tackle and should make sticking to your weight loss plan much easier!
--Reece Mander, Reece Mander Fitness
To stay healthy and slim without having to spend countless hours at the gym, try eating a more plant-based diet. You don't need to go fully vegan in order to reap the benefits of eating healthier and more nutritious meals. When I switched to a more vegetarian diet, I felt more energy and able to be more active through the course of the day. This, in turn, caused me to gradually lose weight, as I had also cut unhealthy animal products from my diet.
The issue with red meat and dairy products is the amount of concentrated fat and cholesterol. Plant-based products are much cleaner and don't clog your arteries the way animal-derived cholesterol does. You can still get crazy amounts of protein from beans, lentils, tofu, and soja without having to worry about feeling hungry. In fact, that's what I love about plant-based food, which is that I can pig out on veg burgers without worrying about it affecting my weight!
--Marina Avramovic, CannabisOffers
The biggest hurdle I had to losing weight toward the beginning was keeping my willpower over the long term (especially when eating well and exercising weren't habits yet). It was daunting to imagine working out and eating healthily the rest of my life. I found reframing my thought patterns to focus on a much shorter time period was extremely helpful. This is what I did: I committed to working out and eating healthily for only as long as it would take to receive my first compliment on my weight loss from someone. The trick is that after I received a compliment like that it gave me a mental boost to keep going because I realized my habits were starting to have a noticeable effect on my physique!
--Adam W, Pleasure Better
My number one weight loss tip is to change your mindset around losing weight. If you look at it as a quick fix and not a lifestyle change you will not be able to keep the weight off. I know this since I did multiple diets and tried different things.
My story: After gaining 55lbs. with my youngest son I knew I had to do something to drop weight so I started working out and eating healthier. I got impatient since I didn't see the results and I decided to try the Paleo diet which lasted a few weeks then I tried Advocare then I tried the fasting diet, then the chicken and cabbage soup diet.
You can see the pattern here. I was jumping from one quick fix to the next and then I found counting macros which helped me drop weight and keep it off. The one thing I had to learn was this is not a quick fix and it is a lifestyle change. I had to rewire my brain and change my mindset to develop a lifestyle that was healthier for me. Later I started competing in powerlifting where I was even more thankful that I started eating healthier to help with training.
--Emily Adams, emilyadams.net
Since I used to be overweight, I have long been interested in healthy eating. I have tried a lot of diets already. Of course, not the warped and meaningless varieties, but those that had some scientific basis.
What I’ve noticed is that any diet can work if followed. This is mainly because from the moment we decide to follow one, we will eat less. This happens both consciously and subconsciously.
The diet that works best for me is intermittent fasting. The point is, I eat in an 8-hour time window. This is followed by a 16-hour fast. This only seems frightening at first hearing. In reality, it is much simpler. In my experience, it’s easy to skip breakfast and not eat until noon. After that, you can have up to 3 medium meals or 2 larger meals until 8 pm. If you’re doing extra sports, it’s simply impossible that you take in that many calories to gain weight. I lost almost 65 pounds thanks to this method.
--Peter Laskay, Petworshiper
More than two years ago, I began a journey to radically transform my life. I was 428 pounds, prediabetic, had PCOS, obstructive sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and could barely get through my day without being exhausted. I finally had enough and completely transformed my life! I've lost 235 pounds and no longer have any of the previously mentioned conditions. Through eating better, exercising more, managing my stress, sleeping better, and bariatric surgery, I have been able not only to lose 235 pounds and improve my health, but I also left an abusive marriage, moved, switched careers, started a business, and am happier than I've been in years!
My #1 tip to lose weight and keep it off is deal with the issues that made you overweight in the first place. Losing weight is a mental game. Sure, it is a physical journey of eating healthy and exercising more, but if you don't deal with the reasons you are overweight in the first place, you'll gain back all your weight. Learn to deal with your emotions and stress without food. If medical conditions caused you to gain weight, talk with your doctor about what you can do to combat it. Keeping a food and mood journal can help you realize when you're emotionally eating and can make a plan to stop it. Next time you feel an emotional eating binge coming on, set a timer for 30 minutes, drink a bottle of water, and distract yourself doing something you love - exercise, read, write, do a hobby, play a game, call a friend, pray, do a devotional, take a walk, practice self-care. At the end of the 30 minutes, see if you're still hungry. If you are, eat a portioned serving of a specific food, then put it away. Getting control of your emotions is the best way to lose weight and keep it off.
--Nicole Bicksler, Stop Weighting, Start Doing
I was born with Kidney dysplasia, which basically means I have one functional kidney. I've also struggled with my weight and confidence as well. Although I wish those things on no one, they gave me a true understanding of the importance of eating and the effect on the body.
Through a lifetime of experimenting, I was able to come up with a few simple methods that work no matter what diet you follow. Here's one that you can do right now that will seriously help you see results.
Set an alarm to avoid mealtime stress.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever had the good intentions to cook a healthy delicious meal, but then bam you look up and it’s already 6 PM. You were so caught up in your work that you didn't even realize that it's dinner time.
By this point you're already starving, your kids may be complaining, and you have no choice but to throw something together that may not be that healthy. Or worse, you decide to pop in a microwave dinner or give in to the pressure of fast-food. 🙁
If you do decide to cook, dinner won't be ready for at least an hour and you may have to run to the store for last-minute ingredients. . . and lord knows how long that takes.
By the end, both of your choices aren't looking so great and you're starting to feel defeated.
Avoid all that stress by setting a simple alarm that lets you know when it’s time to put down whatever you’re doing and cook.
Go into the clock app on your phone right now and set that alarm. One that gives you a few minutes to clean up your current task and start dinner.
This is one of those things that is simple to start, stick to, and carry some major benefits. In the health world, those are rare.
So, set your alarm now and eat a deliciously healthy dinner later.
--Shaila Anne, Easy Keto Menus
My go to for people that want to lose weight is start logging their food on myfitnesspal. I used this myself when I found myself 20 lbs overweight 8 years ago. Losing weight is all about creating a calorie deficit and most people do not know how many calories they are really eating!
In our insta society, it's hard to lose weight because it is a slow process. But logging day in and day out is the only thing I have found that works.
You cannot outrun a bad diet. Exercise is something we should all be doing because our bodies are meant to move!
Losing weight is all about the food!
--Pam Sherman, The Perfect Balance
I have personally lost and have kept off more than 180 pounds for many years. At my peak I weighed 360 pounds (I am only 5'6) and had a 56 waist...Today I weigh 175 pounds and have a 30 waist and at 57, I am in the best physical shape of my life.
I spent most of my life like most people. Getting disgusted with myself, losing weight and gaining it all back (usually more)
What was one of the keys to losing it and keeping it off?
Have a clear and detailed picture in my head of how I wanted to look, feel and experience life.
My tip to your readers is to write out exactly what they want to look like. Their physical characteristics, how they dress and carry themselves. How would they be emotionally, mentally and spiritually. What would their relationships would be like...The more detail the better...Think of it as you writing the novel of your life....Make it exciting...
Then every night when you are in bed, ready to fall asleep, read and visualize your new story and allow yourself to fall asleep thinking about it.
All night long while you are sleeping your subconscious mind will begin to process it and accept it. At some point your subconscious mind will accept this new image and story as your truth and it will start moving you physically toward that image.....
This is how your subconscious mind works... Change the pictures....You change your reality
--Scott Schmaren, UltimateVisionaryMind.com
We all learn unhealthy ways of eating. Things like fast food, food that is easy to fix. Food that is processed to the point where you are getting nothing but calories from it, making it so you have mineral and vitamin deficiencies.
The fix...eat fresh. Things that you fix from scratch. Things that contain foods that you need to cook. The fresher the better. If you can grow your own food, that is the ideal.
I lost 100 lbs and kept 80 of it off by changing to a healthier lifestyle. No diet although I did use the weight watcher points system to get a handle on portion sizes. I became a grazer. Instead of eating that candy bar, I would have a handful of grapes. Instead of having that loaded baked potato, I'd have a plain one with a small amount of butter. Instead of eating that bag of potato chips, I ate an apple. When I got hungry, I'd drink water, wait ten minutes and if I was still hungry then I'd eat raw vegetables, a small salad or a half a sandwich.
The last key is staying active. I made the changes needed to lose weight when I could barely move due to my weight affecting my knees and bad. Today, I can walk that five miles, climb stairs, ride horses, ride my motorcycle and dance for several hours. I went over some difficult trails hiking that a lot of younger people couldn't do while traveling. I'd still be able to do those trails, just a little slower. Building muscle helps to burn calories and keep your weight under control.
It all comes down to choices and changing your mindset. Diets, I don'd care what one it is, won't work. You have to change what you are currently doing while planning on doing it for the rest of your life. I've kept that 80 lbs off for ten years which is difficult if you are a post menopausal woman who has a sedentary job.
--Barbara Mealer, bamealer.com
The most important mindset shift for weight loss is to get away from ALL OR NOTHING THINKING.
The all-or-nothing mentality basically says that if you can’t be perfect, or if you regret a decision you made, then everything is ruined, the “good behavior is over, and you have to start all over again tomorrow. Or Monday. Or New Years…
This kind of all-or-nothing thinking will destroy your health and kill your motivation to lose weight, get in shape, or become healthier.
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably fallen victim to this type of thinking:
“I promised myself I wouldn’t eat any junk food, but I ate a cookie so I might as well eat the rest of these cookies. I’ll start my diet all over again tomorrow.”
“I want to quit smoking, but I caved and had a cigarette. Maybe I’ll try to quit some other time.”
“I don’t have time to go to the gym every day, so I can’t start an exercise program right now.”
The key to getting away from this mindset is to shift into NEXT DECISION mode. Here’s an example:
You’re trying to lose weight, so you intend to stay away from junk food. But you eat a cookie.
The all-or-nothing thinking tells you, “Well, I didn’t stay away from junk food, so I have failed. Therefore, nothing I do for the rest of the day matters, it’s already ruined. I might as well eat with abandon the rest of today, and then try to get back on track tomorrow.”
That line of thinking will never get you anywhere. You’ll stay on the weight loss rollercoaster for the rest of your life.
Next Decision thinking, however, says, “Oops. I shouldn’t have done that. I’m going to throw out these cookies so I’m not tempted again, and I have a healthy lunch planned next.”
Expecting yourself to be perfect will always fail you. If you’re banking on perfection in order to make any progress, you will never succeed!
Every decision matters, so make a good one next time. Focus on your food decisions one at a time. By the way, that, for the record, is the only option…
--Dan DeFigio, Beating Sugar Addiction
I was 43 years old and I weighed 231 pounds. I'd been drinking, smoking and eating poorly for many years. As a direct result I found myself in hospital with a lifestyle related problem. I was told I needed an operation that would require a surgeon to either open me up or go in with keyhole surgery. The latter was preferable in all respects but due to being significantly overweight might not be possible. That was all the motivation I needed to lose as much weight as possible as quickly as I could.
The operation was scheduled to take place in four months time. I hoped enough time to lose enough weight to allow for the keyhole procedure to be carried out. I took one simple step of cutting all processed food. I ate food that was as close to its natural state as possible. That was my only rule. My meals became oats for breakfast, salads for lunch and predominantly vegetables for dinner. Four months later I had lost 40 pounds..
At the start of the four months I also started walking. I made sure I hit at least 10,000 steps every day. I wasn’t fit enough to do much else at this stage. I was so unfit I would get out of breath walking up the stairs. However four months later, when it came time to go into hospital I could easily do the daily steps. That combined with the weight loss I knew I was on the right path. I weighed 191 pounds and much better.
I was able to have the keyhole surgery which came as a relief. It was very satisfying to know that I was able to change my habits and get a positive outcome in a difficult situation.
From that point it became something of a life mission to improve my health further and for the rest of my life. I started running and have become slightly obsessed. I still eat food as close to its natural state as possible but a lot more of it. I burn through the calories and my metabolism is on fire. Four years on with the eating philosophy and running I’ve lost another 23 pounds.
I would never have believed it possible if I hadn’t done it myself. I was a middle aged man who thought I would be overweight and unfit for life. I now love eating healthily and I love running. There are many benefits to both and both can be done at a level that is sustainable and enjoyable. I just wish I'd done both earlier before I needed a not insignificant medical procedure!
--Anthony, Rational Runner
It’s important for you to know that I am 3/4 handicapped. I have a total of six bad disks, scoliosis, stenosis, arthritis, 24/7 chronic pain and a host of other medical issues taking up a full page. Bottom line? Except for swimming, which is impossible given COVID-19; I can’t exercise.
What this translates to is easy weight gain and no way to exercise my way out of it.
Several years ago I lost 50 pounds and have been able to keep most of it off. In addition to eating intelligently, I have to recommendations that work for me:
(1) Use a smaller plate. It’s a psychological game that you play with your mind, because you can have a full plate of food and not feel deprived.
(2) Put your fork down after every bite. This can be hard to get used to it, because most people “gulp up and go.” When you set your fork it down after every bite, it forces you to slow down.
Slowing down allows your body to kick in naturally and produce a feeling of fullness long before you have to grab another big plate of food to feel full.
HERE’S THE CRAZY ONE:
(3) Close your eyes when you chew your food. This may sound absolutely bonkers to you, but when I close my eyes, and chew my food slower, I really get the chance to both smell and taste the food before I swallow it. Sure, it may be a little socially awkward, but you need to do it briefly to remind yourself each time until it becomes a habit.
A startling benefit? It makes the food taste better. Try it sometime, it really works!
--Damian Birkel, jobsearching.org
I've lost about 100 pounds and kept most of them off, going from a 233-pound couch potato to training for a Kilimanjaro summit for my 60th birthday this year. What worked for me was changing my mindset from dieting and exercising to fueling and training. I discovered this approach after a year of trying to stay at my goal weight when my food and workout programs stopped working for me.
I stumbled upon obstacle course racing and signed up for a Spartan Sprint. The seven months I spent training for this challenging event got me in even better shape than just cutting calories, lifting weights and walking had done. It also exposed me to a new circle of local athletes, so I now had people to train with, encourage me, and provide tips on meals, snacks, stretching and recovery. Community is a powerful force for wellness!
Once I realized that setting and achieving goals meant keeping active (with friends) and eating well toward fueling them, I had a formula that has worked for me ever since. As I mentioned, I'm now training for a Kili climb this year. I've also summited Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states, completed two marathons and one triathlon, as well as six obstacle course races.
--Jamie Gold, jamiegold.net
Truly, the best way I have ever been able to lose weight has been cutting out 15-20 percent of what I am ALREADY eating.
No diets or plans.
If I am having a burger, I eat 3/4 of it. And then give the rest to my dog LOL.
The word diet alone is intimidating. By eliminating a bit of what I was already eating, it felt more long term and sustainable.
It is said that effective results come from looking more at it like a lifestyle.
It kept me very conscious of what I was eating to, the amounts that is. I started weighing food more and using measuring cups.
It empowered me to master my good. Instead of mindlessly putting things on a plate.
The best part about it is that I have kept all the weight off.
And never had to diet to do so.
--Chris Cucchiara, personaldevelopfit.com
Health, fitness, and weight loss are highly overcomplicated nowadays. The reality is, it is far more simple than people realize.
Trying to do the hardest workouts or completely overhaul your entire diet is going to lead to failure 9 times out of 10.
Instead, try making a couple of small changes to how you live your daily life, and staying consistent, in order to see drastic results.
Some small changes like adding a walk or a small bout of exercise after your first and last meal of each day or using a timer while you work to remind you to get up, stretch, and do some bodyweight exercises every hour will lead to impressive results over time.
When it comes to diet, focus on just improving one of your meals, like breakfast, working to make it healthier over time. Or setting up a simple rule to counteract late-night eating such as no longer eating anything after dinner.
This may not sound like a lot but this is exactly how I lost 40 lbs in 2019. I started by investing in a stationary bike that I used to do light cycling for 30-60 minutes each morning while I started my work day.
Over the year, the amount of time, intensity, and duration slowly increased. After 3 months of focusing on building the habit of cycling daily, I began including intermittent fasting into my protocol by only eating between 11 AM and 7 PM.
After 3 months of including intermittent fasting, I invested in a software known as Stretch Clock, which I used to get me to do a series of stretches every 60 minutes while working.
That's all it took to get me back down to 165 lbs, what I weighed before going to college almost 10 years ago. With 2020, the focus is on including small amounts of kettlebell exercises into my daily routine such as kettlebell swings, squats, and cleans. Start small, stay consistent, and build from there.
--Nick Rizzo, RunRepeat.Com
I'm a health and fitness expert as well as a bodybuilder, but I wasn't always fanatic about staying in shape. I used to be your average, slightly-chubby-borderline-heavy guy who saw exercise as a chore and eating correctly as dull. What prompted me to take it seriously and eventually become passionate about nutrition and bodybuilding was getting into the science behind how stuff works. I found it fascinating to discover how my muscles would grow if I stuck to a weight lifting regiment, or how supplements could help me feel less fatigued over time. Understanding the facts behind how weight loss and muscle building works - and that it was a real goal I could achieve if I put the work into it - kept me motivated. Try to learn the science behind how weight loss works, understand your limits (for example, if you have a thyroid condition how this impacts weight loss) and learn the remarkable things good nutrition can do for your health beyond shedding pounds.
--Eddie J., Anabolic Bodies
When you work in the fitness field long enough, you start to learn valuable insight as to what works and what doesn’t when it comes to people’s bodies and weight loss. Many people try and overly cut back on their caloric intake, or run for an hour in the morning and then workout again in the evening for another hour – every single day – in order to lose weight. However, one of the biggest surprises that my clients encounter when sharing their goals regarding weight loss is this: that they need to incorporate strength training into their routine.
Granted, many clients think that lifting heavy will cause them to get huge…. however, the opposite is true! Lifting heavy weights helps to build muscle mass, which then boosts your metabolism, which then in turn burns more calories. It’s a win-win, especially if you are burning more calories than you’re eating. That in turn leads to weight loss.
--Cynthia Olson, Fitter Living