"I wanted to lose weight for my wedding, but I also wanted to be sure that my weight loss would be a permanent life change. So, I promised myself that if I sustained my weight loss at least one month past my wedding day, I would reward myself with a ring to wear on my right hand. As the months leading up to my celebration went by, I'd often spend my lunch break browsing online jewelry collections, which I found to be a very powerful motivational tool. The result: I not only lost the weight and kept it off by eating healthfully and working out, but now I have a beautiful piece of jewelry that reminds me, every day, of what I accomplished.
—Jessica Burch, Silver Spring,Maryland. Lost 21 lbs.
"I started an online fitness journal. There, I documented what I ate and how much I exercised—seeing it in writing helped me become accountable. I also invited other women trying to lose weight to correspond with me. My ‘virtual' buddies were extremely encouraging: I couldn't wait to go online and report in about my workout progress, because I knew that they would respond to my posting with a bunch of happy, dancing icons. It sounds silly, but the fact is, having that group of supporters really helped."
—Lynn Renken, Dallas,Texas. Lost 10 lbs.
"About three months before my wedding, I heard about the American Stroke Association's Train to End Stroke program, which trains participants to complete a marathon and helps them gather sponsors for the event. I'd lost my grandfather a year earlier to a massive stroke, and since I wanted to lose some weight for the wedding anyway, this program sounded perfect for me. I began by running with the team three to six miles, two days a week, and working out with weights three days a week. In the meantime, I ordered my wedding dress from a bridal shop, which, coincidentally, was located along our running route. Just when the training started to get more difficult, a shop clerk called to tell me my dress was in. At that time, I had started doing 12-mile runs and was having doubts about whether I could actually complete a marathon. But running past the dress shop at 6 a.m. every morning with my friends from the team was inspirational. We would all wave hello to the gowns in the window."
—Devorah Holan, Pompano Beach, Florida. Lost 5 lbs.
"I created a chart to help me track my weekly diet and fitness goals. Each day, I'd check off boxes on my chart that corresponded to completing certain exercises or to eating healthfully at a meal. I found that there was always a direct correlation between how many boxes I checked off and how many pounds I lost that week. I also asked my superathletic coworker to sign off on my goal sheets each week. Knowing I had to report to him kept me going; I couldn't bear for him to find out what a slug I really was!"
—Diana McLaughlin, Fairfax, Virginia. Lost 30 lbs.
"I joined a recreational soccer league. I had belonged to gyms in the past, but I was never really able to summon the motivation to go. Joining the league was the best decision I've ever made in terms of getting my weight under control. I found that because I was playing a game, practice never felt like a chore, like going to the gym can. Not only was playing soccer really fun, but it definitely helped speed up my metabolism."
—Michelle Elliot, Tampa, Florida. Lost 34 lbs.
"On my refrigerator I taped a picture of a model stretched out on a beach, wearing a bikini. Whenever I got hungry for something fattening and unhealthy, I'd take one look at her and grab some celery."
—Sasha Collantes, Brooklyn, New York. Lost 70 lbs.