Diet Success Stories: How I Lost Weight

Get inspired by these real women who lost weight and kept it off, and learn their most effective diet tips and exercise advice.

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Christie Joyce Bautista


Home: Los Angeles

Age: 36, mom of one

Pounds Lost: 20 pounds

Weight Wake-Up Call: I saw pro boxer Manny Pacquiao step on a scale before a fight and realized I weighed as much as he did!

How I Lost It: My best friend asked me to do a POUND workout with her. It's a cardio class that uses weighted drumsticks. That session kicked my butt. Still, I couldn't stop smiling and was hooked. Eating six small meals a day, never skipping breakfast and logging workouts and snacks on the MyFitnessPal app also helped. In 10 months I was a new woman.

Favorite Workout Move: The back kick twist: It's an ab twist with alternating leg raises that works your entire core all at once.

Go-to Healthy Dish: Turkey meatloaf muffins: ground turkey mixed with seasonings and baked in a muffin tray, with veggies on the side.

Fun Thing I Can Do Now: I became a certified POUND instructor! I love seeing that I'm making a difference in my students' lives.

Stay-Motivated Mantra: Be an inspiration.

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Amazing Weight Loss Stories: Christie Bautista

Amazing Weight Loss Stories: Christie Bautista

Get inspired by Christie, who lost 20 pounds in under 12 months, and learn her most effective diet tips and exercise advice.

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Damaris Rivera


Home: Cleveland

Age: 44, mom of two

Pounds Lost: 61 pounds

Weight Wake-Up Call: While clothes shopping with my daughter, I didn't want to come out of the dressing room. My self-esteem was so low, and I regretted showing her how insecure I was.

How I Lost It: After seeing a Jenny Craig commercial, I picked up the phone. It took a year but I never felt like I was on a diet—I had Chocolate Cheesecake on my menu!—and my consultant, Amy, motivated me every step of the way.

Favorite Workout Move: Prasarita Padottanasana, a forward-bend yoga pose with legs spread wide apart. The breathing method strengthens my lungs for running, and the move stretches my hamstrings.

Go-to Healthy Dish: Grilled chicken with teriyaki sauce, brown rice and vegetables.

Fun Thing I Can Do Now: Wear dresses and 3-inch platform heels! When I was heavier, I always wore jeans with elastic waistbands and Crocs. Now my daughter and I share jeans and raid each other's closets!

Stay-Motivated Mantra: You've got to get up every morning with determination to go to bed with satisfaction.

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Amazing Weight Loss Stories: Damaris Rivera

Amazing Weight Loss Stories: Damaris Rivera

Meet Damaris, who lost 61 pounds in a year, and transformedher unhealthy lifestyle into an active, happy one. 

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Kathy Amrose


Home: Livonia, Michigan

Age: 39, mom of two

Pounds Lost: 30 pounds

Weight Wake-Up Call: I saw the most dreadful photo of myself wearing 2XL sweatpants.

How I Lost It: I've always wanted to work out with a trainer, but getting to the gym and paying for it seemed out of reach. Then I found, a website that arranges live workouts via webcam with personal trainers for about $20 per session. The appointments were a huge part of making me stick with it. I knew there was someone waiting for me! I also followed the Fast Metabolism Diet, an eating plan that alternates carbs, proteins and healthy fats on different days of the week. In six months I was slimmer.

Favorite Workout Move: Sit-ups with legs in the air while you reach for your toes. They really work your abs.

Go-to Healthy Dish: A sweet-potato hash (shredded sweet potatoes sauteed in coconut oil) topped with two scrambled eggs. Besides being delicious, it starts off my day with protein, a vegetable and healthy fat.

Fun Thing I Can Do Now: Go water skiing! I hadn't done it since I was a teenager.

Stay-Motivated Mantra: It's all about choices—like opting to get up early and work out or deciding to chop vegetables instead of reaching for a bag of chips.

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Amazing Weight Loss Stories: Kathy Amrose

Amazing Weight Loss Stories: Kathy Amrose

Kathy Amrose has a message for all parents struggling to lose weight: you can do it!

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Samatha Burns


Home: Cleveland

Age: 42, mom of three

Pounds Lost: 129 pounds

Weight Wake-Up Call: I'd bought a medical transportation company—driving elderly patients from nursing homes to their appointments—and realized I was taking some of the same medications my clients were. Plus, I could barely keep up with them.

How I Lost It: I dropped the first 100 very slowly (11 pounds a year) because I joined Curves to work out but ate poorly. Two years ago, I started Curves Complete, a program combining fitness, customized meal plans and one-on-one coaching. I lost 29 pounds in three months. Eating breakfast every day and giving up sweets, as part of the program, made a big difference.

Favorite Workout Move: The table sit, a core and upper-body strengthener. Your hands and feet are on the floor and you repeatedly lift your hips until your body is in a straight line from shoulders to knees, then lower hips until you're almost seated.

Go-to Healthy Dish: Grilled chicken Caesar salad with diced toast (instead of croutons), reduced-fat dressing and just two tablespoons of Parmesan cheese.

Fun Thing I Can Do Now: Play basketball with my 16-year-old.

Stay-Motivated Mantra: Every day I look in the mirror and say, "I am beautiful and anything I set my mind to today I can accomplish."

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Amazing Weight Loss Stories: Samatha Burns

Amazing Weight Loss Stories: Samatha Burns

Curious about Curves? Samantha's weight loss story is sure to inspire you. 

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Charlene Juliani


Home: Carmichaels, Pennsylvania

Age: 42, mom of six

Pounds Lost: 35 pounds

Weight Wake-Up Call: I was diagnosed with adult-onset asthma 13 years ago. The more pounds I put on, the more severe my attacks became. I was afraid that if I didn't slim down, I would need a breathing machine at night.

How I Lost It: When I turned 40, I decided to reinvent myself. I signed up for Nutrisystem, which, in addition to delivering food, taught me about portion sizes, combining protein and carbs with each meal and hydration. I couldn't even walk down my street and back, so I walked in place in my kitchen for 10 minutes at a time. When I could do that, I began walking outside. Suddenly exercising no longer seemed like a chore and I dropped the weight in 10 months.

Favorite Workout Move: Toning my arms with alternating push-ups and triceps dips on stairs or park benches.

Go-to Healthy Dish: A salad with three types of greens, lean meat, reduced-fat cheddar cheese, carrots, tomatoes, green peppers and a hard-boiled egg. I dip the salad in dressing instead of pouring it on.

Fun Thing I Can Do Now: Color Runs. They're 5Ks where runners are splashed with a different colored powder at each kilometer checkpoint.

Stay-Motivated Mantra: With a little hard work and determination, anything is possible.

Originally published in the May 2014 issue of Family Circle magazine.

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Amazing Weight Loss Stories: Charlene Juliani

Amazing Weight Loss Stories: Charlene Juliani

Charlene is a busy mother of six. Learn how she made the time to get healthy and lose weight. 

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Wendy DeMent


Home: Clinton, Illinois

Age: 40

Height: 5'6"

Previous Weight: 301 pounds

Current Weight: 165 pounds

Pounds Lost: 136 pounds

How I Lost It

Six years ago, I thought I was having a heart attack. It turned out to be a false alarm, but I wondered: What if the next time it's not? I was morbidly obese and diabetic. So I began counting calories with an app called Lose It! and The weight started coming off.

Eating six full meals a day—including fast food—was my old M.O. The new norm is typically a three-egg-white omelet with onions and fat-free cheddar for breakfast, a 3-ounce lean burger with steamed sweet potato for lunch, and spaghetti squash or BBQ chicken with salad for dinner. I'll snack on a half cup of trail mix or 3 cups of air-popped popcorn.

Before my kids wake up, I pop in an exercise DVD so I don't have to waste time getting to—or money paying for—a gym. A few of my faves are: The Biggest Loser's Calorie Knockout, Leslie Sansone's Walk Away the Pounds series and Billy Blanks' This Is Tae Bo. I also did the Couch-to-5k program.

My advice to other moms: Don't wait for your kids to be grown to get healthy. Don't wait for the new year and don't even wait for Monday. Do it today. It's hard to be fit, but it's hard to be fat too!

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Bonnie Rutherford


Home: Riner, Virginia

Age: 40

Height: 5'9"

Previous Weight: 302 pounds

Current Weight: 160 pounds

Pounds Lost: 142 pounds

How I Lost It

I booked a once-in-a-lifetime trip to France in 2009 that I wanted to be fit enough to enjoy. So I became a team captain for a wellness competition at my job that encouraged eating more produce and working out. I also started logging my meals and activity on After six months, I'd lost 70 pounds.

Buddying up for exercise changed everything. I'd walk with a friend, take Zumba classes and meet with a trainer every two months. Once his workout became too easy, we'd meet so he could show me a new one. Now I plan to start training for a marathon.

I never order out with my coworkers. I pack lunch, like a chicken sandwich on whole wheat and high-fiber cereal mixed into Greek yogurt. Dinner is salmon or a Boca burger with whole wheat pasta and veggies. Breakfast is high in protein, like eggs.

Don't let a bad day lead to a bad week or month. If you slip up on an exercise or diet plan, you can always turn things around.

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Susan Evans


Home: Chesapeake, Virginia

Age: 33

Height: 5'8"

Previous Weight: 300 pounds

Current Weight: 154 pounds

Pounds Lost: 146 pounds

How I Lost It

I know what motivates me. I'm not a yoga person—I need high-intensity workouts. Sometimes I run the bleachers at the park, doing 9 sets in 45 minutes. Other times I take a jog outside or do at-home DVDs like Insanity Workout and P90X.

I have a respect for food now. I eat until I'm full—instead of a bag of Oreos, I'll enjoy a couple cookies. I never let myself get too hungry. I have six small meals each day, including an Atkins bar as an afternoon snack.

I'm active with my kids. When my two sons were younger I couldn't do anything with them because I was so heavy. But now we love to spend time together outside. They go on runs with me and are even trying to teach me how to skateboard. They want me to be the cool mom.

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Meghan Cook


Home: Rome City, Indiana

Age: 31

Height: 5'6"

Previous Weight: 220 pounds

Current Weight: 133 pounds

Pounds Lost: 87 pounds

How I Lost It

I dusted off my running shoes. I love working up a sweat on the treadmill. By slowly increasing my endurance, I have completed two 5Ks with my oldest son. Now my husband is even running—he's my motivator when I don't feel like doing it.

I kissed carbs goodbye. On the Atkins plan, my diet is made up of lean meats—like salmon and chicken—and hearty vegetables. While I'm avoiding refined carbohydrates, I always keep a fresh salad on hand. On busy days, it's great to have everything chopped and ready to go without cooking.

I do double duty. I used to spend my boys' basketball and football practice watching from the sidelines. Now I head to the gym to get in my own workout: 30 minutes of cardio and strength training twice a week.

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Amy Garrett


Home: Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania

Age: 35

Height: 5'7"

Previous Weight: 260 pounds

Current Weight: 145 pounds

Pounds Lost: 115 pounds

How I Lost It

Walking changed my life. It's the way I shed the majority of my weight. I stroll around my neighborhood for an hour five days a week or do at-home DVDs—my favorite is Leslie Sansone's 5-Mile Walk. I even bought a treadmill for when it's too cold outside. I track all of my workouts on

I made healthier food choices. I cut out fast food, reduced my salt intake and started reading nutrition labels. Keeping a food journal on helped me realize how many calories I was consuming—especially in foods I considered healthy, like regular yogurt and wheat cereal. I switched to low-calorie foods and added fruits and veggies to my diet.

I move to the music. Listening to my favorite songs on my MP3 player motivates me to up the intensity of my workouts. I love anything with a good beat.

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Shelly Clement


Home: Reserve, Louisiana

Age: 39

Height: 5'5"

Previous Weight: 371 pounds

Current Weight: 195 pounds

Pounds Lost: 176 pounds

How I Lost It

I found support on the Web. I met some amazing folks on, a free online diet and fitness community. We start a group e-mail chain every Saturday morning to share our successes and setbacks and to offer each other support. At one point I hit a plateau, and a group member told me he was proud of my dedication and how far I'd come. It motivated me to keep going.

I do treadmill intervals. I shed 3.5 pounds in four days with this routine: I walk 3 miles an hour with no incline for five minutes. Then, I raise the incline to level two and walk 3.5 miles an hour for two minutes. Next, I run for one minute at 6.2 miles an hour and repeat for 25 minutes.

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Peggy Bradford


Hometown: Sewell, New Jersey

Age: 45

Height: 5'10"

Previous Weight: 216 pounds

Current Weight: 146 pounds

Weight Lost: 70 pounds

How I Lost It

I wrote my own weight-loss plan. I decided to create my own diet—and it worked! I read labels, counted calories and made sure I didn't fill up on junk (I used to drink a lot of soda). It's something I can follow for the rest of my life.

I don't sit to watch TV. Instead of relaxing on the couch when I enjoy my shows, I jog in place and pump my arms while holding 10-pound weights. I also wear a pedometer and aim to get in 20,000 steps every day.

I celebrate my efforts. While I've cut back on pasta, rice and potatoes—things I used to eat every day—I always treat myself to a scoop of my favorite ice cream at night.

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Molly Sholes


Home: Inman, Nebraska

Age: 38

Height: 5'4"

Previous Weight: 230 pounds

Current Weight: 130 pounds

Pounds Lost: 100 pounds

I was totally embarrassed. I got serious about changing my exercise and eating habits when an acquaintance thought I was pregnant!

I turned to healthy snacks. Between meals I eat apple slices or veggies. Small bags of peanuts or almonds are always in my purse and my desk for a quick source of healthy protein.

I made exercising a family affair. The gravel trails in the rural area where I live are ideal for walks with my kids and husband. When the weather's bad I work out to Leslie Sansone's exercise DVDs or use the stairstepper at the gym.

Check out Leslie Sansone's walking tips here

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Laney Solomon


Hometown: Stevensville, Maryland

Age: 42

Height: 5'2"

Previous Weight: 218 pounds

Current Weight: 131 pounds

Weight Lost: 87 pounds

How I Lost It

I eased into exercise. I started walking 20 minutes a day and slowly increased my pace until I could run 2 miles at a time. Now I'm training for my fourth 10K race. I've surprised even myself—I used to get tired just strolling around the mall.

I order smart at restaurants. When my family eats out, I get the sauces and dressings on the side. If something comes with french fries, I swap them for a salad or a baked sweet potato.

I set small goals. 1. Get below 200 pounds. 2. Buy clothes with no X (goodbye XXL and XL!). 3. Weigh less than my husband. 4. Finally, focus on toning my muscles (see ya, upper-arm jiggle!).

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Mother and Daughter Edition


Name and Age: Kathy Fendley, 61

Name and Age: Emily Jenkins, 27

Hometown: Knoxville, Tennessee

Previous Weight: 185 pounds (Emily), 179 pounds (Kathy)

Current Weight: 132 pounds (Emily), 126 pounds (Kathy)

Weight Lost: 53 pounds each. Both followed the LA Weight Loss plan.

How We Lost It

We motivated each other to get started.

"My mom and I both wanted to lose weight, so I suggested we do it together," Emily says. "We started walking and joined the same gym."

We cook together.

"I visit my parents' house for a healthy dinner at least twice a week. Our favorite dish is grilled chicken with couscous, zucchini and squash," Emily says.

We divide dinner in two.

"When we go out to eat, we usually split something low-cal like salmon, broccoli and a baked potato," Kathy says. "If we get our own dishes, half is put directly into a to-go box."