Whether you’re looking to shed five pounds or 50 pounds, losing weight is never easy. At times, it may seem impossible, but there are everyday people, just like you, who’ve had huge success slimming down and they have secrets to share. Of course, everyone’s weight loss journey and path is going to be different, but there are a lot of things that anyone looking to lose weight can learn from those who’ve already done it. Here are some of the best weight loss tips from those who’ve lost at least 50 pounds. So read on—and for more secrets to slimming down, read up on The Real Reason Weight Loss Is Hard After 60.
1.Make a food plan that works for you.
In order to lose weight and keep it off, you need to “make a permanent change in [your] eating habits,” writes Tom Dell’Aringa, who lost 50 pounds right around his 50th birthday. “No fad diet is sustainable [so] you have to craft your own eating plan.”
2.Develop good habits.
What helped Megan lose 50 pounds in less than year was consistency in her daily activities. “I remained consistent and the daily actions turned into habits,” she writes. “Ultimately I made… a major lifestyle change.”
3.Make the time.
“I started walking for 45 minutes during my lunch break,” says Melissa Leon in an interview with Health. By making time every single day to complete her workouts, Leon was able to lose 53 pounds and gain 100 percent more confidence. And if you need more reasons to turn your lunch break into a walking session, then read up on the 30 Reasons Why Walking Is the Best Exercise.
Weight “took time to come on and it will also take time to come off,” writes Amber Alexander, a weight loss warrior who lost 50 pounds in just four months. Though she had tried to lose weight several times before, what finally helped her be successful was taking things slow and realizing that “there is no quick fix” when it comes to losing weight. (Oh, and WW, formerly known as Weight Watchers. Amber swears by WW.)
5.Log what you eat.
Oklahoma City hairdresser Kay Franklin began logging her meals into Everyday Health’s My Calorie Counter and simply seeing the sheer amount of calories that she was consuming opened her eyes to the changes she needed to make. “The numbers really opened my eyes and it made it much easier for me to focus on my goal to lose 50 pounds,” Franklin said.
6.Treat exercise like a form of therapy.
Mother-daughter duo Jane Dent and Sarah Gallagher found weight loss success after learning how to use exercise as a stress reliever. “I’ve learned to exercise instead of eating when I’m stressed. I’ve started walking two to three miles outside two to three times a week. The fresh air instantly puts me in a good mood, and I think of it as time to unplug,” Gallagher tells Woman’s Day. And if you haven’t yet found a workout you enjoy, then try these 30 Workouts That Burn More Than 500 Calories An Hour.
7.Don’t eat emotionally.
Another one of Dell’Aringa’s weight loss tips is to “remove emotion from eating.” Not only does emotional eating contribute to overeating and weight gain, but it also “does not solve your problems,” he writes.
8.Bring your workout clothes everywhere.
“Every trip I have taken this year I have included my workout clothes and made time to get a sweat in,” writes Thomas LaRock about how he lost 50 pounds in five months. Since the IT professional is constantly away for work, always having workout clothes with him allows him to “work out when I’m on the road.”
9.Form a new relationship with food.
Writer Gary Drevitch didn’t want to subscribe to normal diet rituals. So, rather than keeping a food diary, Drevitch simply adopted a healthier lifestyle. “I adopted a low-carb, not no-carb, menu. I converted my breakfast to a bowl of bran flakes and dried cranberries. My lunches and dinners were plates half covered with vegetables and filled out with healthy portions of protein. My snacks: rice cakes with hummus, peanut butter or low-fat cottage cheese, or handfuls of nuts or raisins,” he tells Next Avenue. Instead of putting himself through a series of fad diets, Drevitch instead chose to change his entire relationship with food—and that ultimately helped him lose over 50 pounds.
10.Find a workout class that you actually like.
At the beginning of 2018, Megan Buchanan was able to successfully lose 50 pounds, and she attributes this to a combination of eating right and finding a workout that she loves in Orange Theory. “It’s the first workout I’ve actually enjoyed,” says Buchanan. “I like that it’s different every day, but is still a full body workout. I don’t have to worry about how long to run or which exercises to do when—I just do what they tell me to do and it gets me the best workout possible.”
11.Replace restaurant meals with home-cooked ones.
“I think what really kept my weight loss going was that I completely cut out national fast food and sit-down chain restaurants and started cooking for myself,” says New Orleans resident Taylor Bevilacqua. By making the foods that she loved rather than buying them, Bevilacqua was able to lose 60 pounds in just eight months! And if you’re new to cooking, make sure you avoid these 17 Ways You’re Using Your Kitchen All Wrong.
12.Make mental changes in your life, too.
Though David Ezell, CEO of Darien Wellness, tried many times to lose weight, he says that what helped him become successful was “focusing on my thoughts as much as exercise and diet.” When he realized that his thoughts were just as important in his weight loss journey as his body, he was able to lose over 100 pounds. “Once I broke the hold on my thoughts about food, hunger, and myself, I was able to take off and never look back,” he says.
13.Eliminate nighttime snacking.
“I lost 70 pounds in 2018 by doing little more than shifting my schedule to eliminate nighttime eating,” says Michael A. Liner, Esq., a lawyer with Liner Legal, LLC. “I was in a bad habit for many years of working until 12 or 1 a.m. and most of that work would take place in my kitchen. By going to bed at a decent hour—9 to 10 p.m.—and waking up early to do my work instead, I cut out the extra eating and the weight flew right off.” And if you want to stop being a night owl, then try these 17 Things Happy People Do Every Morning.
14.Be your biggest cheerleader.
At the end of her weight loss journey, Paige Jackson of New Orleans found herself at 155 pounds, down from 220. She tellsHealth she attributes her success in part to hiding motivational quotes and photos in places she knew she’d see. “I always have my phone background set to a motivational quote,” she said. “Words of wisdom, like ‘If you want it, work for it,’ offer a little pick-me-up every time I look at the screen.”
15.Use resistance training.
Gail Lind is a 70-year-old personal trainer at Anytime Fitness who lost 50 pounds. She says the best way to lose weight and fight aging is to head to the gym—specifically, Lind says resistance training helped her age in reverse. “Using resistance while working out can improve your balance and lessen the risk of heart disease,” she explains. “Resistance training also helps prevent the natural loss of lean muscle mass that can come with aging and lead to loss of mobility.” And for more anti-aging advice, check out these 100 Anti-Aging Secrets for Looking and Feeling Younger Than Ever.
16.Don’t avoid your favorite foods entirely.
When Bevilacqua was in the midst of her weight loss journey, she didn’t completely avoid her favorite sugary sweets—she just wasn’t overdoing it when she did eat them. “Making sure I can eat whatever dish I want is what stopped me from ‘cheating’ because there was essentially nothing I couldn’t eat,” she explains.
17.Make time to be active every day.
Especially for those getting older, finding the time to move your body each and every day can actually help slow down the hands of time and drop the pounds. “Whether it’s at home or at the gym, engaging in a small workout everyday maintains overall health and can slow the breakdown of tendons, ligaments, joints and bone density—which helps prevent or reverse osteoporosis,” Lind says. These workouts can be as simple as an afternoon walk, or as strenuous as an hour at the gym—both will inevitably benefit your body and make it easier to lose weight or keep off the weight that you’ve already lost.
18.Watch your portion sizes.
A common trend among people who have successfully lost weight is not watching what they eat, but how much they eat. When Harold T. Stokes, a professor at Brigham Young University, tried this approach to weight loss, he lost 50 pounds and six inches off of his waist in less than a year. By giving himself a 1,900 calorie cap every day, he was able to make more informed decisions.
“I didn’t want to reach 1,900 calories too fast,” Stokes writes. “I stopped putting syrup on my oatmeal for breakfast. It would save me 100 calories and allow me to eat a little bit more for dinner. I wanted to save the calories for the things I really liked eating.”
19.Take photos every single day.
“I started taking a picture a day without really planning to. In my first photo, I didn’t recognize myself, so I decided to take a picture every day until I saw a person I recognized,” Justine McCable tells Women’s Health about how she was able to shed 124 pounds. “I soon began tracking my weight loss through the pictures, and it was a great way to keep motivated.”
20.Make the decision and stick with it.
According to Dell’Aringa, a weight loss journey is only successful if you actually “make the decision” to lose the weight and decide that your health is more important than your cravings. “I wanted to be healthy and fit more than I wanted to stuff my face with candy, pasta, and pizza,” he writes. “You have to be all in.”
21.Measure your success in goals, not pounds.
“Throughout my journey, I have always relied on active goals, like running a 5K or building muscle, to measure my progress,” Jackson tells Health. “Working toward real-life results is way more rewarding than obsessing over a number on the scale.”
22.Focus on building muscle.
Lind also credits her weight loss to consistently building muscle mass through weight training. Doing consistent weight training improves your posture, ensures that your body retains a full range of motion into your golden years, and burns fat long after you’ve left the gym. And, because of this improved range of motion, working out on a more frequent basis won’t do as much harm to your body. If you’re new to building muscle, try these 40 Great Exercises for Adding Muscle Over 40.
23.Don’t feel guilty about a few slip-ups.
“A cheat day? What does that even mean? I’m not here to feel guilty about the decisions I make,” writes Suzanne Kvilhaug, who was able to lose 50 pounds and successfully keep the weight off. “If I eat something that isn’t the best thing for me, I move on. I don’t regret my decision or sulk in guilt.”
24.Find healthy foods that you actually enjoy.
“Success comes not from denying yourself pleasure and good food, but by forming habits that are more pleasurable with food that you really like that causes you to become healthy and fit,” writes William Anderson, LMHC, a licensed mental health counselor. Once he found healthy foods that he actually loved, he was able to overcome his battle with obesity and lose 140 pounds, bringing him down to a healthy 180.
25.Take your weight loss one step at a time.
For Shanna Fichera, losing weight was “a very gradual process.” “I began walking or jogging for 15 minutes a day,” she explains to Cosmopolitan. “I worked up to 30 minutes, and then increased it again.” When you’re on your weight loss journey, it’s important to realize that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.