Changing eating and exercising habits to lose weight and bolster health is tough no matter what year it is. But 14 people, who shared their weight loss journeys with TODAY, succeeded in transforming their health and lost more than 1,087 pounds combined. Many found that little things like having a friend’s support or being patient helped them lose the weight and keep it off. They share their tips to help anyone interested in fostering healthier eating and exercise routines.
1. Weigh your food
Friends and former nursing coworkers Tara Simmons, 46, Lindsay Claxton, 37, Julie Sands, 29, and Kelly Fear, 31, all decided to lose weight together. They started WW (formerly Weight Watchers) and relied on one another for support to lose weight. While not having to lose weight alone helped, Fear realized that measuring her portions made it easier for her.
“If you just try to guess your portion size and then you go weigh it you realize how much (larger) it could be,” she said.
2. Eat a piece of cake
For Sands, making healthier eating choices also meant that she didn’t have to give up her favorite “comfort” foods. If she’s having a slice of cake after dinner, for example, she simply makes smarter food choices throughout the day. This helps her stick with her healthy habits.
“It’s just small little changes that make a difference,” she said. “I’m not missing out on cake or anything like that.”
Together the nurses lost more than 140 pounds. Simmons lost 41 pounds. Claxton shed 23 pounds. Fear lost 56 pounds. And Sands dropped 23 pounds.
3. Look for balance
When Christopher Huerta, 28, realized he needed to lose weight, he looked to his hero, Kobe Bryant, for inspiration. Bryant slowly recovered from an injury and Huerta thought he could lose weight by taking a similar measured approach. Following Bryant’s example— and having a friend support him — helped him lose 170 pounds in 9 months. While he felt better, he realized that sometimes being healthy could be too much of a good thing. That’s why he recommends that people look for balance in their lives.
“There’s stress eating and then there’s stress exercising. I was exercising a ton and I finally think I’ve reached a mental spot where it’s like I don’t need to obsess over this,” he said. “It was almost like I was running from something.”
4. Be patient
Jacki Roberts, 38, weighed 510 pounds and realized her weight was stopping her from enjoying life. While she wanted to lose weight quickly, she understood that meaningful lifestyle changes take time.
“Don’t look at those before and after pictures and think that it’s going to happen fast,” she said. “it took a long time to put that weight on and it’s going to take a while to take it off.”
5. ‘What do I want more?’
When Roberts thinks about eating junk food or having too many cheat days, she asks herself “What do I want more?"
“I say, ‘Do I want to eat this that’s probably really good but not great for me?’ or ‘Do I want to feel amazing?’ or ‘Do I want to get to my goal weight?’” she said. “You say, ‘Oh, it’s just one cupcake.’ But one cupcake adds up to 500 pounds eventually.”
6. ‘Taking a day at a time’
When Tim Adams, 34, was furloughed during the pandemic, he had a lot of time to think about his life and health. He decided to change how he eats and exercise more and lost 50 pounds. He made small changes that added up to a loss. He believes anyone can do it.
“This is an accessible dream that you can take over,” he said. “This is your health. This is just your body. This is not way out rocket science type s---. This is just zoning in on you taking a day at a time.”
7. Set a goal
Adams had an idea of how much weight he’d like to do and that kept him focused.
“You have to come up with a goal first and you have to say to yourself in the mirror what it is,” he said. “You’re already there in your head.”
8. Start with one change
All Georgia Malbrough’s life, she was overweight. When she had her third child in Feb. 2018, she weighed 231 pounds and wore a size 18. Malbrough, 27, knew she needed to become healthier. In just 13 months, she lost 100 pounds to weigh 128 pounds. But that big loss started with one small step.
“I baby wore my newborn and walked about a mile at first and then I graduated to two miles,” she told TODAY.
Soon she was scrolling through Instagram for new exercise routines and started kettlebell exercises.
9. Be consistent not perfect
Georgia Carlton, 42, thought she was destined to be overweight. But she began re-examining her health after a trip to Disneyland with her family. At 296 pounds, her body ached as she walked around the park. She worried she wouldn't fit on the rides. Soon after, she turned to WW and lost 122 pounds in her 40s. Part of her success was being consistent not perfect.
“We want to eat right. We want to exercise the right way, but it’s really the consistency over the long time,” she said. “That’s how I had success. I was obviously not perfect.”
So, if she skipped a workout or ate some junk food, she just returned to her healthy habits.
10. Don’t obsess over the scale
After moving to San Francisco four years ago, Ashleigh Brown started by exploring the city’s restaurants. Soon she noticed her clothes didn't fit as well and she wore the outfits over and over. When her boyfriend proposed, she thought she’d like to do something about the extra 30 pounds she had gained. She dropped four sizes thanks to a surprising motivator: Brown avoided the scale.
“I didn’t want to get on the scale. I wanted to see how I felt in my clothes — that is right up my alley,” she said. “I never actually weighed myself through the process because I really wanted to focus on how I felt in my skin and in my clothes.”
11. Find your why
When Mary Carney was 71, she felt disappointed by how she looked and that she had little energy to play with her grandchildren. So, she started a 21 Day Fix workout program from Beachbody trainer Autumn Calabrese and lost about 60 pounds in six months. Knowing why she wanted to lose weight helped the now 78-year-old succeed.
“When your grandchildren come up to you and ask, ‘Can you please get up? Can we talk a walk?' When you are heavier, you are sluggish and you just want to sit and color,” she said. “That woke me up again. I did not have the energy or the stamina.”
12. Be accountable
When Stephanie and Brandon Engblom woke in January 2020 both weighing more than 300 pounds and feeling just awful, they vowed to lose some weight. By making small changes, they lost more than 200 pounds combined and feel great. Having each other as partners in weight loss helped them succeed.
“It’s strengthened our relationship,” she said. “I feel like we’ve only gotten stronger together.”
Stephanie, 25, also keeps track of what she’s eating and how she feels when she wants to eat, which she feels everyone can do to help them reach their goals.
13. Mix and match
After turning 34 and deciding to make healthier choices, Lydia Bordo turned to two different programs to help her. She vowed to complete 300 Peloton bike rides while tracking her food with WW. Using two programs to manage her eating and exercising helped her lose 28 pounds.
“I’ve made these changes long-term,” she said. “Having the ability to view food differently has been the biggest challenge.”