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Four years ago, Diane Naylor, now 63, retired, moved from Fresno to Oakhurst, California, and was excited about all of the new activities her new location afforded her: hiking paths, biking trails in Yosemite and a great climate for being outdoors.
There was just one issue: She weighed more than 400 pounds and didn't want to go outside.
"I felt miserable and depressed because of my weight," Naylor recounted to TODAY. "I wasn't active at all and I couldn't do all of the things I wanted to."
Naylor had tried to lose weight several times before, but always gave up when whatever diet she was on ended. She was feeling hopeless until an episode of the TV show "Castle" inspired her to give it another try.
"One of the medical examiners was telling the lead actress she should follow her dreams," Naylor said. "He pointed to the corpses and said, 'All those people had dreams, but their time ran out, so don't let that happen to you.' It was like a light bulb went off — I had a lot of dreams, too, and I wanted to accomplish them."
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The next day, Naylor started her weight-loss journey and hasn't looked back since. Here, she recounts the steps she took to lose 225 pounds, and offers advice for people in similar situations:
1. Start NOW.
"Don't put it off," Naylor warned. "No one gets any younger, and the younger you are, the easier it is. I started at 59, which proves anyone can do it. Why start six months from now? Start today!"
2. Make small changes to your lifestyle.
Naylor started walking up and down her driveway. In the beginning, going to the mailbox was a challenge for her. Even though she felt unbalanced, like she was going to fall, she stuck with it. Once she lost 20 pounds (thanks to walking and a new eating plan), she started riding an indoor bike and taking longer walks around her neighborhood.
Today, she hikes 4-mile trails and does 20-30-mile bike rides with her niece. She doesn't stop moving until she hits 10,000 steps a day. Naylor stressed it's all about starting small, and increasing your movement as you feel stronger.
3. Find a support network.
Naylor joined the Taking Off Pounds Sensibly club, better known as TOPS, after she had lost 50 pounds on her own. The club provides accountability and constant support. Naylor attends meetings every Monday, and received calls, emails and letters of encouragement from other members when she first started.
"The Monday meetings help me keep myself in check during the weekends, when I'd be most likely to cheat," Naylor said. "If you don't have access to a similar group — start one yourself! Find similar-minded people who will understand and support you."
4. Try to eat something new.
"I learned how to eat fish. I didn't care for it before, but I bought an air fryer which helped me cook it without the grease and I actually like the way it tastes," Naylor shared.
5. Don't go on a "diet."
Before Naylor found TOPS, she had tried everything to lose weight, from Weight Watchers to Jenny Craig, and she always gained it back.
This time around, instead of viewing her lifestyle changes as a "diet," she simply approached it as small changes for a healthier and longer life. She started eating more veggies, less junk and moved more.
"I figured out what worked for me," she said.
6. Stick with it.
You will hit weight-loss plateaus along the way — it's inevitable — but if you stick it out, you will continue to lose weight.
"It might take six or eight weeks for the scale to move, but during that time, you'll see the inches coming off of your body," she explained and stressed the importance of not giving up!
7. Take it one meal at a time.
"Candy, popcorn and ice cream are all still temptations for me. Staying healthy is a constant, every day decision," Naylor said. Sure, that can feel overwhelming, but she suggests looking at it as just one decision, one meal at a time, and stresses that you need to be consistent.
Today, Naylor says she's 63 going on 45 and feels amazing. She can take advantage of all of the fun outdoor activities in her neighborhood and is even getting into public speaking on behalf of TOPS, the weight-loss club. Her motto: If she can do it, so can you! Start small, and just get started — don't keep putting it off until Monday.