A year ago, the woman you see above—Sarah—had just given birth to her fifth child, but was, in her own words, "depressed" and "felt hopeless." She then opened Instagram on her smartphone and started scrolling. That's when she finally found the motivation she needed to change her life. A year later, she's down 63 pounds from her starting weight of 215 pounds. And she looks amazing!
Stories like Sarah's show that social media can serve as an inspiring platform to track others'—and ultimately, your own—progress and weight loss transformation. What you'll soon find is that no one's journey is the same. Different methods work for different people and unique stories will relate to unique people. And whether or not you struggle with your own weight, these jaw-dropping transformation stories will be sure to inspire you to lead the healthiest life you can. If you're looking to lose belly fat and tone up, get inspired by these amazing stories—and then steal their secrets by following these 50 Best Ever Weight-Loss Secrets From Skinny People.
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When you're overweight, it's not just extra pounds that are the problem. According to a feature on Katie Bolden by GPS-watch brand Polar, the Chicago-area blogger had been overweight for most of her early life, was suffering from a variety of chronic illnesses, and was fraught with a potential diagnosis of MS in her early 20s. "I was so afraid one day I could be completely disabled and might not be able to do all of the things I have always wanted to do," Bolden told Polar. It was then that she decided to overhaul her life. She first started with 30-minute workouts four times a week and gradually increased the time and intensity as she got more fit. (On the left is Katie during an attempt to run three miles back in 2013). Three years later, Katie has lost a total of 143 pounds and is now tackling half marathons. Looking to slim down, too? Check out these 40 Fun Ways to Drop a Jeans Size!
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David's story began when he was assigned to produce an episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show that guest-starred fitness guru Richard Simmons. Upon meeting, Simmons offered to help David, and thus began David's successful weight-loss journey. He started (at 402 pounds) by writing down everything he ate in a food log. He brought his own food to work every day, gave into cravings occasionally, and started exercising. Two years later, he's lost—and kept off—over 160 pounds. A piece of advice from David? Because he knew that previous diets would fail when he made poor food choices (thinking "There goes my diet today, so I should eat whatever I want, and get back on track tomorrow."), he now eliminates temptation wherever he can by keeping healthy options at home and with him on the go. Find tips like this on our exclusive list of 50 Best Weight Loss Tips!
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After being in an abusive relationship for almost five years, this 25-year-old's weight crept up to nearly 258 pounds. After having a revelation that she should spend her time and effort creating a life that she could love and be proud of rather than hating herself, Megan Mcgee's friend happened to ask her if she wanted to join Slimming World—a UK-based weight loss program that helps members lose weight through a combination of group support, healthy eating, and daily activity. She agreed and lost over 70 pounds. "The physical changes are great, but the psychological changes I've had are the ones that have benefitted my life beyond anything I could ever have imagined; my weight loss has been an outward reflection of my healthier state of mind," the 25-year-old nurse told the Daily Star.
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Losing 154 pounds doesn't happen overnight. In fact, it took Mattie over five years to drop that amount of weight when she started at 331 pounds. After years of sweat and tears, Mattie says she loves the feeling of "being able to walk into a store and not worry that you won't fit [into] the clothes."
Photo courtesy of @join_jessica_xo.
Motivation was thrust upon Jessica when her boyfriend proposed to her and she wasn't 100 percent happy with how she looked. According to her Instagram bio, she's lost over 115 pounds naturally in anticipation of her wedding in March 2017. A piece of advice she gave her followers? "As you prepare to commit to changing your life, remember that change must first happen in your mind. If you don't believe you're capable, then you're not."
Photo courtesy of @JoSeeksAbs
Joanne is proof that the scale isn't the only measurement for good health (neither is BMI). Two and a half years ago, Joanne chose to change her lifestyle. She wasn't particularly overweight, but she saw an opportunity for growth after visiting a health and fitness expo. She started by exercising and began to see muscle gain and fat loss. When her progress started to plateau, that's when she knew she had to start changing her diet as well. Now, she eats a diet rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant foods (she eats turmeric and adds blueberries to her smoothies daily), cuts out refined sugar, chooses whole foods over pre-packaged, and has increased her protein intake. She started out at 133 pounds and 25.6 percent body fat and now weighs 126 pounds and is 19 percent body fat. Although there is a scale weight difference of only 7 pounds, she lost almost 10 pounds of fat—which also means she packed on an impressive 3 pounds of muscle! Joanne's tip for targeting back fat? "The short answer is, you can't. Unfortunately, you can't spot reduce any part of your body." However, Jo explains, "Unlike fat loss, you can specifically target different body parts to build muscle. Muscle is responsible for giving definition and shape and doesn't jiggle, sag, [nor] look uneven or dimpled the way fat does."
Photo courtesy of @djmog
Unlike other Instagram accounts dedicated to weight loss, DJ Mog's account depicts photographs of nature and his girlfriend. You'd never guess the popular DJ and songwriter ever struggled with his weight. After shocked responses to a progress photo, the 32-year-old commented, "This just proves that you can never truly know what people are battling behind all the smoke and mirrors that is social media and day to day life." He went on to explain his battle. He was eating "crap," had "no clue about food or respect for nutrition," and had a myriad of serious health problems. He asked Geoff Gates, a weight-loss mentor for help and after less than a year of following a revamped diet and exercise routine, the young DJ "went from a guy who couldn't even go shirtless on a beach to this happy (and not so fat) chap you see before you here at yes, that's right…a beach!"
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Weight loss isn't easy and it doesn't come quickly. Julie will be the first to tell you that, and that you shouldn't be afraid to start again. She's down 72 pounds from her heaviest weight, but it took five rounds of the same workout routine (Kayla Itsines' Bikini Body Girls). She still has a ways to go, but she's happy with her slow progress: "It's still progress," she says. A lot of progress Julie has made isn't even visible. In fact, she recently shared with her followers that she no longer has high blood pressure or high cholesterol!
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One year ago, Nancy weighed 140 pounds heavier. In her Instagram bio, Nancy details that the first 50 pounds she lost were merely through making simple diet changes. An extra 90 pounds off was a combination of diet and exercise. Now, Nancy does Zumba, works out regularly—lifting, abs, etc.—and eats healthy, like making cauliflower rice and Italian sausage stew!
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After dropping an inspiring 91 pounds, Hannah has her routine down to a science. Well, sorta. Her "basic system" is pretty general, which goes to show that the best "diet" is one that involves changing your lifestyle for the better: she eats whole foods, fills her plate with bright and varied colors, cooks from scratch to avoid preservatives, drinks water, tracks her progress, and sleeps 8 hours a night—all part of our list of 30 Healthy Habits Fit People Live By. Before, her exercise was "walking to the shop to buy cheese and onion pasties" but now she lifts weights and creates her own circuits!
The Iron Giantess
Photo courtesy of @theirongiantess
"There isn't an easy answer…. a quick fix… a magic pill…. a simple solution. […] I have the cold, honest truth. It requires work." By replacing junk food with real foods like chicken, fish, and whole veggies, adopting an intensive fitness program of simple weight lifting and cardio, and completely rejecting excuses, "The Iron Giantess" was able to drop a staggering 115 pounds over the course of two years without surgery or weight-loss pills. Ready to be inspired? The fit Instagram star shares a few words of wisdom: "There isn't a magic solution to which you're not privy. There's only hard work. And anyone can do that."
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You don't need weight loss surgery to lose nearly 200 pounds. And Jose Cabrera is proof. The 33-year-old started out at over 400 pounds and is currently at 228. When he began his weight-loss journey, his "ultimate goal was to never feel helpless ever again." After his transformation, he's found that he "gained so more than just reshaping my body. All I can say is that every sacrifice you make to become a healthier you is worth it." Looking to follow Jose's lead? Steal his go-to post-workout breakfast: 1 cup 1-minute oats, 2 servings peanut butter, and 1 scoop protein powder.
Photo courtesy of @indigoalicefit
Although Indigo grew up as an accomplished martial artist, golfer, and well-rounded athlete, she suffered from an undiagnosed fatigue disorder, gained quite a bit of weight, and was set back after having two heart surgeries. "I carried that extra 20kg okay, but I was so unfit that I couldn't walk up the stairs without getting out of breath!" Now, the 23-year-old regularly lifts, does kickboxing, and practices yoga. She attributes a lot of her success to Kayla Itsines' Sweat Guides: "That was the real catalyst for my healthy lifestyle change and I am so, so grateful for that!"
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It all started in February of 2016 when Gabrielle visited Brazil for Carnival. "I never felt more uncomfortable in my skin than that particular trip. I avoided pictures. My body lacked the love I put into my skin, into my hair and makeup," she commented on a recent photo posted to Instagram. Now, she works out three to five times a week (lifting weights and running), eats low-carb/low-sugar, and is alcohol-free (going on four months). She's lost a staggering 80 pounds so far! You go, girl! Follow this goddess' lead by stocking up on these 20 Best Packaged, Low-Carb Snacks for Weight Loss.
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After losing both her husband and mother within a short timespan, Justine struggled with "depression, a serious binge eating disorder, body shame, and body dysmorphia." She took her weight loss journey one step (and one selfie) at a time to rebound with a 124-pound weight loss.
Photo courtesy of @sarah_fitafter5
If anyone will tell you weight loss isn't a quick process, it's Sarah. The stay-at-home mom of five tried everything from Nutrisystem to Weight Watchers to calorie counting with no lasting success. Beginning back in January 2016, she weighed in at 215 pounds. She was depressed, had just had her fifth child, and felt hopeless. After scrolling through Instagram inspiration, she finally was motivated to make a change. She toned her body using a program called Beach Body On Demand, and rather than restricting certain foods, she opted to eat any food she wanted as long as it fit with the right macronutrients she needed—protein, carbs, and healthy fats—and is now down 63 pounds. Her top tip for weight-loss success? "One word … muscle!!! Yes, cardio will help you shed the weight but muscle makes you smaller, tighter, and leaner." Pump iron and pair it with these 25 Best Foods for a Toned Body to get fit like Sarah!
Photo courtesy of @ericafitlove
According to an Instagram spokesperson, Erica's weight-loss photos were the most popular posts for the hashtag "WeightLossTransformation." She started her journey at 320+ pounds when she recognized that she began to dread getting up off the couch to play with her young toddler. She also hated that clothes were becoming limited. In the end, she lost over 130 pounds in 15 months and went from being a size 24 to a size 8. We'd bet she also gave up most of these 40 Bad Habits That Lead to a Fat Belly!