Nothing against uber-toned personal trainers or super-skinny nutritionists, but some of the best weight-loss advice comes from people who have been there before. Here, a list of tips and tricks to help you on your own journey, from those in the know.
Tracie Troha, 29, Americus, Georgia; lost 84 lbs.
Prepare for parties—"I usually bring food I've made to a party and stick with eating that."
Turn off the TV—"I hardly watch any TV anymore. I used to come home and turn it on, but now as soon as I get home from work I work out or go outside."
Don't workout alone—"Exercising with a friend is a big help– having someone else there really keeps me motivated."
Bill Anderson, 60, Sarasota, Florida; lost 140 lbs.
See yourself thin—"It may sound strange, but to help me imagine myself at my ideal weight, I cut my head out of a photo and put it on a photo of someone whose body I admired: Johnny Weissmuller, a former Olympic swimmer and actor. Just make sure you choose a healthy body– no runway models!"
Janie Dean, 32, Columbus, Ohio; lost 48 lbs.
Set an example—"Remember that you're a role model for your kids. I try to get my daughter out jumping on the trampoline, inline skating or walking in the park with me. She's learning from my example."
Goodbye comfort zone—"I was terrified to go to my belly dancing class at first, but now I love it. It's been a great confidence booster, and it's a good workout."
Michelle Mejia, 26, Eagle Pass, Texas; lost 55 lbs.
Think outside the fryer—"I'm from Texas, so of course I love chips and salsa. Instead of eating fried tortilla chips, I buy corn tortillas and bake them. They're just as good."
Roxanne Bowens, 42, Chicago, Illinois; lost 26 lbs.
Keep a list—"To stay on track, I made a list of all the reasons I wanted to lose weight and kept it close by. At the top of the list was 'get healthy.' It scared me that my cholesterol and blood pressure had started creeping up."
Rennie Carter, 59, Sarasota, Fla.; lost 53 pounds
It's O.K. to cheat—"I'm pretty strict with myself during the week, but weekends are looser. If you're craving something during the wee, tell yourself to wait until the weekend to have it. You may even be so proud of yourself for resisting that you won't want it come Saturday anyway."
Taylor LeBaron, 17, Cumming, Georgia; lost 157 lbs.
Get creative—"I would figure out how many calories I could have that day, then I pretended each calorie was worth a dollar and then I had to 'buy' my food. Once I got low on 'money' I knew I had to be especially smart about what I ate."
Watch what you drink—"I eliminated all liquid calories. My favorite drink was regular Coke; I replaced it with Coke Zero."
Kathi Bosilovatz, 44, Planinﬁeld, Illinois; lost 120 lbs.
Plan your meals—"I wouldn't be able to make it through the week if I didn't plan my meals ahead of time. I write out my menu and do all of my grocery shopping on Sundays."
Write it down—"I wrote down everything I ate. You don't realize how many calories you're consuming until you look at it. You'll be shocked."