Whether it’s five pounds or 150 pounds, losing weight is tough. It’s so easy to become overwhelmed by what diet to pick, how to exercise and if a rest day is needed. It’s all so confusing. Those who successfully lose weight often do so by taking things one day at a time and making gradual changes. These 10 people lost a combined 1,726.5 pounds and share what small changes worked for them.
1. Eat smaller portions.
After his grandfather underwent triple bypass surgery, Joaquin Rodriguez evaluated his own health and decided to lose some weight. At first, the 30-year-old from Corpus Christi, Texas was unhappy about adding in a bunch of vegetables or low-fat foods. So he simply started eating smaller portions.
“I tried dieting a lot before and that just never really worked out,” Rodriquez told TODAY. “So I figured it has to be (eating) less. I have to cut.”
Smaller portion sizes helped Rodriguez lose about 100 pounds.
2. Find exercise that you love.
When Bryan Hurley’s son turned one and started exploring, Hurley realized he wanted to be more active and decided to lose weight. He eliminated alcohol and added healthier foods into his diet, but finding Power Zone Training on Peloton really boosted his weight loss. The program encourages riders to bike at their highest possible output for an hour. While that might seem grueling to some, Hurley loved it and it helped him lose 185 pounds to weigh 180.
“I kind of overshot,” he told TODAY. “I was originally trying to get down to 250. Now I’m so addicted to cycling, it’s tough to gain anything back but I’m doing a lifting routine to try to get some of the mass back.”
3. Have the family help.
Prior to his 37th birthday, Josh Gretz reflected on his life and realized how he saw himself was not how he looked. He still thought that he was athletic but he weighed 350 pounds. He made some healthy changes thanks to a deal he made with his children. The deal? Gretz put money aside for a vacation and every day he didn’t exercise for at least 20 minutes, he took money from the pot.
“Having the support structure of family was amazingly important,” he told TODAY. “The kids were always reminding me that I have to go do something or they would lose money in the vacation fund.”
It worked — Gretz lost 190 pounds to weigh 160 pounds in a little over a year.
4. Reconsider your relationship with food.
At 65, Judy Wilson weighed over 431 pounds, her heaviest weight. After attending “Queendom Bootcamp,” a local 21-day eating program, she started incorporating healthier habits into her life. In four years, she lost 200 pounds. One thing that helped her was redefining her relationship with food.
“It starts with your thinking,” Wilson, 70 of Monroe, Louisiana, told TODAY. “Look at food not as a crutch, not as something to celebrate with. You can celebrate with a pedicure. You don’t have to go pig out.”
5. ‘Find your why.’
In 2018, Laura McNemee’s son Jacob, who has severe autism, ran away and McNemee worried she wouldn’t be able to catch him because she felt out of shape at 300 pounds. After that she promised herself to walk every day for two weeks, which started her weight-loss journey. Finding her motivation, helped her lose 137 pounds.
“You have to find your ‘why.’ In the beginning, Jacob was my ‘why.’ He’s still my ‘why.’ But it also evolved into finding myself again, wanting to be happier and wanting me to be the old me again,” she told TODAY.
While Frank Wells lost 200 pounds from diet alone, he wasn’t fit and he felt stuck at 220 pounds. After landing a job at Cyclebar, he started taking spin classes. It was tough, but he kept doing it. And, he found that skipping extra cocktails also boosted his weight loss. In total, Wells lost 240 pounds.
“You don’t realize how many calories … are in a whiskey and PBR,” he told TODAY.
7. Surround yourself with supporters.
After a bad breakup three years ago, Stephen Vysocky found himself hiding out in his apartment. At 480 pounds, he felt like he was too big to enjoy many activities. But then his roommate sat him down for a chat.
“We had a real heart-to-heart conversation where he was like, ‘Stephen, you’re pretty much going to die if you don’t make a change in your life … The only person that can make that change is you,’” the 34-year-old from Riverside, California, told TODAY. “He’s like, ‘I got a gym membership and I want to take you.’”
After going to the gym became a habit, his other roommate taught him to cook healthy meals. Their support helped him lose 240 pounds to weigh 265 pounds.
8. Follow a simple mantra.
When Alli Neff gained 15 pounds in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, she knew it was time to focus on developing healthier habits to lose some weight. She started posting on TikTok for accountability and recalled a mantra that she learned at Hilton Head Health, a residential weight loss and wellness facility in South Carolina.
“Unwise, better, best,” Neff told TODAY. “It’s basically looking at the options in front of you — maybe it’s a salad, a grilled chicken sandwich and a pizza — and you look at your choices and pick what’s maybe not the best option, but is at least a better option.”
Following “unwise, better, best” helped Neff lose 100 pounds.
9. Set goals that feel right for you.
When Roxanne Mullenberg started a walking challenge with her colleagues, she wanted to cultivate healthy habits. She had just received medication to help her underactive thyroid and hoped that walking more might help her lose some weight. But she never set a goal weight.
“I said, ‘My goal is to drop a couple of sizes and just feel better about myself,’” she said. “That was 100% my goal and it still remains to this day. It was never going to be about the number on the scale.”
She lost 149.5 pounds and shed a few dress sizes, too.
10. Saying yes.
So often people think of weight loss in terms of what they give up. But during Andrew Crockett’s weight loss, he considered what he gained.
“I didn’t focus on what I was giving up,” Crockett told TODAY. “I found myself focusing on what I was going to say ‘yes’ to. I’m going to say ‘yes’ to five more minutes on the treadmill … I’m saying, ‘yes’ to one more block as I walk the dog. I’m saying, ‘yes’ to this one healthy meal today.’”
Saying yes to more exercise and health foods helped Crockett lose 185 pounds in four years.