The One Thing That Helped Me Lose Weight

15 Best Weight Loss Tips from Real-Life Success Stories

Photo by Jeffrey Betts

Losing weight can feel complicated. After all, you’ve got thousands of diets competing for a spot on your plate, conflicting reports about what’s a superfood and what’s garbage, and your cravings haven’t budged since you put on the weight in the first place.

Or, maybe, once you cut through all of the nonsense, losing weight is actually pretty simple. Just ask someone who has succeeded in not only shedding pounds — but keeping them off. Here, 15 healthy-living converts share the one thing that helped them ditch the weight loss turmoil and find long-term success. Smart, sustainable changes that trump quick fixes — now these are tips we can get behind.

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The 15 Best Weight Loss Tips From People Who’ve Been There

The 15 Best Weight Loss Tips from Real-Life Success Stories: Dina Shingleton

1. Focus on Small Changes
“What has helped me has been making small, manageable tweaks in my daily routine, instead of undertaking a complete overhaul at once. First, I took control of my diet by making simple swaps from unhealthy to healthy — like green tea instead of coffee with milk and sugar; brown rice pasta instead of white pasta; sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes. Once I felt comfortable with those changes, I added in an exercise program. Too often someone who wants to lose weight makes too many changes at once…Life, and weight loss, is a once-step-a-time journey. Many little changes, when put together, make a huge change.” — Daily Burn user Dina Shingleton, age 40, 35 pounds lost in 10 months

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2. Pay Attention to Your Health
“The word ‘diabetes’ did it for me. I had seen my aunt lose both of her legs as well as my grandfather suffer from neuropathy in his feet due to type 2 diabetes, and I didn’t want any part of that. So once I found out that I too had diabetes, getting healthy became my number-one priority. Sure, I had dieted off-and-on for years, but now I was prioritizing my health, so I was eating healthy rather than following an unsustainable crash diet. And since being focused on my health was way more motivating than dwelling over my weight, my new approach made every food swap and healthy meal so much easier.” — Business owner and picture framer Debra Rolli, age 50, 38 pounds lost

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3. Take Control of Your Body
“Once I realized that I was in control of my own outcome, I was able to build momentum and create the body I wanted for myself. Before, I had thought that I was somewhat ‘special.’ That I came from a family of bigger people so having a great body wasn’t in the cards for me. And I think a lot of people go through that. But once I got over the victim mindset and stuck with it long enough to have some success, the results and the process became fun and almost addictive for me. And even though I’ve been in shape for over 10 years now and am focused on other areas of fitness, I’m still addicted to the journey and the success. It’s quite honestly the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.” — Personal trainer Dan Trink, C.S.C.S, age 43, 60 pounds lost (and has since regained about 30 pounds of lean muscle)

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The 15 Best Weight Loss Tips from Real-Life Success Stories

Photo by Jan Vašek

4. Track Your Food
“I lost the weight by using a food tracker called Lose It! I am a foodie at heart, so portion control is so important for me because I didn’t want to have to completely cut out the foods I loved. So, for me, tracking was important because it allowed me to have the best of both worlds. I could eat exactly what I wanted, within reason, while staying within my calorie-needs range. It also allowed me to see how much fat, protein and carbs I was putting into my body. Seeing these things laid out allowed me to make better decisions. When I don’t track I go off track!” — Bank of America VP Syreeta Abrams, 38 years old, 35 pounds lost 

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5. Ask “Am I Really Hungry?”
“The one thing that helped me lose weight: making sure I was only eating because I was hungry, and doing other things for comfort or fun. I realized I was making decisions on whether to eat or not based on thinking, ‘Well, I only had a light breakfast,’ or ‘I’m pretty low on calories so far for the day, so I can have that.’ But I wasn’t actually feeling physiologically hunger on many of these occasions, I was just eating because I love food and I had a justification to eat up! …At first it was tough to tell what hunger felt like, but even bringing awareness to my appetite signals instead of just calories started to change my body right away.” — Georgie Fear, R.D., C.S.S.D., author of Lean Habits for Lifelong Weight Loss, age 33, 35 pounds lost

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6. Become a Meal Prep Master
Meal and snack prepping on Sunday for the week has really enabled me to control what foods I’m putting into my body to help me lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way. When I cook, I can know exactly what I’m eating and how it fits into my daily nutrition goals. And when I prepare those meals and snacks in advance, it cuts down on the overall amount of time I spend in the kitchen while eliminating the chances that I’ll order delivery or head to the vending machine because I’m short on time or just don’t have the energy at the end of the work day to cook.” — Sales manager Carrie Dowling, age 30, 30 pounds lost

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7. Eat for Performance
The one thing that helped me lose weight was changing my focus from weight loss to performance. For 10 years, I struggled with losing weight and tried out at least a dozen different diets. Then a few years ago, I decided to do a triathlon. At first I thought, if I do this, I will lose weight. But after my first race, I joined a club and saw that people of all shapes and sizes performed better than I did. So I switched my goals from eating to lose weight to eating to fuel my training. This [helped me] hit my goals, not just running, but biking and swimming as well. The stress of losing weight vanished. And the weight actually started coming off.” — Student and part-time government employee Annick Desrosiers, age 37, 30 pounds lost

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The 15 Best Weight Loss Tips from Real-Life Success Stories: Kristen Bloom

8. Live Mindfully
“My mindset in the past was to either ignore that I had a weight issue, or try a fad diet for a few days and see how it went. It never went well. But when I made it my goal to become a healthy person, things changed. With that mindset, I simply focused on making healthy decisions. Do I want blueberries or a candy bar for a snack? Do I want to watch TV or go for a walk? Even where to park [my car] became a decision…Over time, those choices became second nature. With my new, healthy lifestyle, the weight just came off on its own. — Daily Burn user Kristen Bloom, age 37, 68 pounds lost in 16 months

9. Lift Heavy
“Before I started lifting, I tried many ways to lose weight. You name it — I’ve probably done it. But over a year ago, one of the personal trainers I was working with suggested I try to do a deadlift. Initially my mindset about lifting was, ‘Eh, looks easy enough. Don’t think I’ll enjoy picking something up and putting it down but whatever.’ I fell in love after struggling to pick up 90 pounds off of the ground. It challenged me. Then, as my lifts became heavier, the pounds started to melt away. It was easier for me to stick to my diet (about 80 percent clean) because I saw a difference in the way I lifted when I was eating better. I started hitting personal bests and the day I managed to lift 230 pounds, what I used to weigh, I told myself I would never let myself go again.” — Dumbbells and Dumplings blogger Sharina Shahmann, age 30, 55 pounds lost

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10. Ditch the Scale
“For years, I had told myself I’d be happy if only I were a certain weight, but I know now that’s not how to approach it. I’ve been really happy on the higher end of the scale and really sad on the lower end because losing weight doesn’t magically fix everything going on in my life. I’ve switched my focus to a healthy lifestyle without stressing so much about the weight. I feel so much better the way I’ve been eating and feel a great sense of accomplishment and an increase in my confidence as I make fitness goals I’ve set for myself. I’ve realized I’m a much better person when I’m healthy and happy. I’m able to be more efficient at work and be there in a better capacity for my friends and family.” — Software engineer Kristin Arora, age 29, 30 pounds lost 

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The 15 Best Weight Loss Tips from Real-Life Success Stories: Nancy Berry

11. Set Mini Goals
“When I began my weight loss, I had it all planned with the date to start and short-term and long-term goals that I wanted to try to accomplish along the way. I set a reasonable amount of time for each mini goal to help accomplish my task. It is a life-long commitment and my long-term goal is to have a strong body to play as hard as I can the rest of my life!” — Daily Burn user Nancy Berry, age 49, 35 pounds lost in 16 months

12. Allow Cheat Meals
“When I first started trying to lose weight, I bought into all of the fad diets…and all I ate for a long time was grilled chicken and brown rice. Obviously this was not sustainable. I craved a lot of restricted foods, and I just couldn’t stick with it. But when I let go of the diet dogmas, I found out that I actually craved bad foods a lot less. Since I wasn’t telling myself ‘no’ all of the time, and knew if I wanted something I could have it as a treat at any time, it made it less desirable. I guess this is the classic forbidden fruit syndrome. By following more of an intuitive eating style that pretty much consisted of whole foods, I feel like I can never ‘fail’ at my diet because I am not really on one.” — Safety specialist Daniel Purvis, age 31, 75 pounds lost

13. Eliminate Trigger Foods
“After years of yo-yo diets and numerous growing health concerns, I finally decided to address my trigger foods.,,,Surprisingly, it was not sweets but more salty-fatty foods like French fries and chips. I decided that these two foods needed to be out of my diet temporarily — at least until I could take control of my food intake. I focused on one trigger food at a time. I think that by addressing the foods I was overeating, I was better able to make my eating strategies fit my individual needs and make healthy eating a sustainable way of life. Almost five years later, I can now have those things and not overeat them. Actually, most of the time I really don’t want them at all. They just don’t have the same taste that they used to for me anymore.” Owner of FitPossibilities Kimberly Mills, age 53, 60 pounds lost

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14. Hydrate
“Even though I was working out on a regular basis and eating healthy, I was having a horrible time losing those last pounds. It was so frustrating. But then a janitor at the school where I worked recommended increasing my water intake and making sure to drink some first thing in the morning. I gave it a shot, and was shocked that it worked! My pants fit again! Now, every morning before coffee and breakfast, I drink a bottle of water. It sets me on the right foot and helps keep me hydrated throughout the day. I have more energy and I’m not overeating when I think I’m hungry, but I’m really just thirsty!” — School principal Amanda King, 28, 11 pounds lost

15. Forget Calories
“What finally got me rolling was ditching calorie counting and paying attention to what I was eating. Fewer processed carbs, less added sugar, no artificial sweeteners. It’s very little work, but leads to so much success.” — Government analyst Megan Sullivan, age 34, 19 pounds lost

Note to reader: Some of the content in this article relates to the core service offered by Daily Burn. In the interest of editorial disclosure and integrity, the reader should know that this site is owned and operated by Daily Burn. Always talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise or weight loss program. Daily Burn users who worked out for 30 minutes or more at least five times a week for 60 to 90 days reported an average weight loss of about one pound per week.