Between navigating the supermarket aisles, vowing to steer clear of breakroom doughnuts, and finding a workout plan that’s not a nightmare to complete, losing weight can get pretty daunting. And if you’ve ever tried to drop a significant amount of pounds, you’re already familiar with the effort and dedication it requires.
But your weight loss journey doesn’t have to be turbulent—there are plenty of ways to slim down without feeling down in the dumps. To rev your efforts of finally shedding that spare tire, we’ve gathered 20 tips from people who’ve lost 100 pounds or more.
Check out their advice below, and if you want healthy recipes, supermarket shopping guides, and essential nutrition tips at your fingertips subscribe to the new Eat This, Not That! magazine now! For a limited time, you can save 50 percent off the cover price—get it here!
Hack the Menu
Fred lost 150 pounds by ordering smart when dining out. He suggests to “[ask] the wait staff about half-portions and [communicate] that you’re on a diet.” — Fred Bollaci, 150 pounds lost
Twenty-one-year-old Tanisha Washington weighed 276 pounds and woke up to three doughnuts a day for breakfast. Her newborn son influenced her to change her lifestyle, and so she cut her daily doughnuts and started following a low-carb, Atkins-style diet. As a result, she lost 103 pounds and overcame her risk of high blood pressure.
When in Doubt, Write It Out
“Stop focusing all your attention on diet and exercise. While they are important, they are not the keys to weight loss; they are tools. The key to permanent and lasting weight loss [is] the image you hold of yourself in your mind. If you have been overweight most of your life, the image of you being overweight is normal for your mind and it will hold that image as being true about you. When you try to lose weight, the diet comes into conflict with the image your mind has of you (being obese) and protects it by sabotaging your diet.
Write out how you want to look, feel, and dress, and how you would experience life at your ideal body weight. Create that image with as much detail as you can. Every night as you are falling asleep, review that image in your mind and fall asleep on it. This is powerful and it helped me transform my life.” — Scott Schmaren, 180 pounds lost
Believe in Yourself
“Over a period of 18 months, through rigorous diet and exercise, I lost 140 pounds [and kept it off]. I was 270 pounds at the onset, pre-diabetic, and having some hard conversations with my doctor [before] I decided that I was going to do whatever it took to get my life back. It all starts with believing in yourself and realizing that you are worth it, which is what I tell people every day. It’s about being better than you were yesterday and getting closer every day.” — Jenna Leveille, 140 pounds lost
Clean Up Your Diet
“I followed a clean diet and lost over 100 pounds by consuming only whole nutrient dense foods. I consumed mostly lean protein, vegetables, and healthy fats like avocados. A couple of times a week, I would have a sweet potato, brown rice, or quinoa with my meals. Water became my best friend. I also never ate after 7 p.m. and did a lot of batch cooking, so that I would be prepared during the week. I kept this regime going for pretty much my entire weight loss journey. It actually started to become a lifestyle change and a way of life rather than a diet.” — Nia Rennix, 120 pounds lost
Find New Pastimes
“Food was my addiction. I turned to it when I was stressed or depressed. After the [bariatric] surgery, I physically can’t eat as much, so I learned to find new coping mechanisms. Now I exercise instead!” — Rachel Lisner, 194 pounds lost
Add Variety to Your Workouts
“I love variety and I can get bored easily, so I like to work out in different ways. I enjoy swimming, pilates, spinning classes, and exercise DVDs at home. I especially like working out when I don’t even realize I am doing it—like walking to places or even [doing] adventure circuits.” — Fay Marshall, lost 120 pounds
Charlene lost 100 pounds and kept it off by avoiding “bites, licks, tastes, and sips,” which she terms “BLTs.” “Don’t think of food as a reward. You don’t ‘deserve’ a treat, and [you’re] not ‘depriving yourself’ if you don’t have it. It’s not about never having a cupcake, it’s about not always having a cupcake.” — Charlene Bazarian, 100 pounds lost
Enjoy Your Workout
“Exercise every day if you can manage it. Pick something you love doing. Some days it’s a couple of laps around the building during my lunch break; sometimes it’s 3 sets of 7 of a single lift. [And] sometimes it’s a 3-mile run or an hour of focused training.” — Reddit user cenosillicaphobiac, 105 pounds lost
Keep Healthy Foods on Hand
“I boil eggs and keep them in the fridge to snack on. Similarly, I do the same with chicken drumsticks. I always make sure I have low-fat cheese, fruit, yogurts, and vegetables available.” — Fay Marshall, 120 pounds lost
Shop the Perimeter
“Shop the outside aisles of the supermarket,” Charlene, who lost 100 pounds, suggests. Supermarkets often stock the outer aisles of the store with healthy, perishable items such as produce, lean meats, and dairy while packaged and processed goods often live in the inner aisles. Sticking to the perimeter of the store is just one of The 46 Best Supermarket Shopping Tips Ever.
Revamp Your Fast Food Habits
“It gets easier every day to make healthier food choices. My tastes have definitely changed, but I still eat fast food a few times a month. However, I choose to eat smaller quantities and plan my day around higher-calorie options. I personally skip the fries and focus on getting one to two items with protein, like a cheeseburger from Burger King (280 calories), two steak fresco tacos from Taco Bell (280 calories), or a chicken sandwich from Chik-fil-A (440 calories). Many local pizza places sell by the slice, and that’s a big help for me. If I have a whole pizza delivered and I can only eat two slices, I’m going to be thinking about the other six sitting in the fridge.” — Reddit user snail_lane, 156 pounds lost
Focus on the Victories
“No matter how many times you tried, treat this time as your first time. I found that helped as I wasn’t focused on all the negatives and the times it didn’t work—I believed I could do it. Take it one day at a time and celebrate the small victories—they all count! Find ways to incorporate the things you love into your new weight loss journey so that you never feel deprived.” — Fay Marshall, 120 pounds lost
Reduce Portion Sizes
“In the beginning, I mostly made small, manageable steps. My routine amounted to an hour of walking, five days a week, cutting out candy, and [reducing] my dinner portions. Most days I would only eat dinner and snacks (although there was a lot of dinner and a lot of candy; I did and still love chocolate), so that alone made a pretty big impact.” — Reddit user RobertGringoIsDead, 120 pounds lost
Count Your Calories
“I lost the weight in 50-pound increments but I had a couple times where I did gain back some weight. At least for me, it was all about measuring my intake. If I didn’t measure and weigh everything I was eating I would have never made it this far. I was making progress for a while with portion [control] and calorie tracking. I started to feel like I was counting too much and not eating enough. I thought I had control, so I stopped counting. Bad idea. If anyone here is counting and weighing and keeping track of intake, keep it up—it’s worth it.” — Reddit user Shocky_Jockey, 100 pounds lost
Combine Cardio and Weight Lifting
“I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app and began counting calories (I’m proud of my 576-day streak!) and then slowly started working out again. I was a member of the girls’ weightlifting team at my high school, so I had a good framework for creating my own exercise program. Initially, I was working out five days a week. I started with 15 to 20 minutes of cardio, alternating between the elliptical and walking on the treadmill [and lifting weights].” — Reddit user snogboxx, 101 pounds lost
Meal Prep Like a Pro
“I start with a meat, since that’s my favorite thing to eat. Do I want chicken, pork, steak, beef, fish or ham? Vegetarian? Beans and tofu are also great sources of protein. Once I decide on a protein, I’ll think about what cuisine sounds good. Chinese, Mexican, Thai, Greek, BBQ? Next, I select what veggies will complete the flavor profile. This is where you can get really creative. For carbs, I typically stick to sweet potatoes, brown rice, and quinoa, as they are complex carbs and keep you fuller longer. Honestly, meal prep can be as easy or as hard as you make it. If I have a busy week, slow cooker or frozen prep it is.” — Reddit user hxcjosh23, 130 pounds lost
Try Intermittent Fasting
“I don’t eat breakfast anymore. I prefer to only eat a light lunch and larger dinner. This was the easiest plan for me. I never go to bed hungry.” — Reddit user cajun9, 100 pounds lost
Spice Things Up
“Eating spicy foods can help boost your metabolism and burn calories.” — Fred Bollaci, 150 pounds lost
“I really believe our body goes into survival mode when we’re low on sleep and gets stubborn about releasing weight as a result. My first big win in my weight loss journey was developing an early to bed, early to rise lifestyle.” — Nick Wolny, 105 pounds lost
If you’re looking to lose weight at night, don’t miss these 30 Things to Do 30 Minutes Before Bed to Lose Weight.