Weight loss can feel pretty overwhelming, even when you're just trying to lose five or 10 pounds. But what about when you're trying to drop 20-plus pounds? Um, yeah, about that…
You'll probably be tempted to start obsessing over calories, macros, and the minutes you've spent at the gym. But that's enough to make you want to smash your head against your plate—and then look for crumbs because, well, you're hungry.
If you talk to women who've successfully lost 20 or more pounds, you’ll learn that their approaches are nothing like that. And studies and countless nutritionists have shown that extreme diets and workout routines are a recipe for failure. Six women share with Women's Health the super simple secrets that helped them lose 20-plus pounds. Put them to use to fuel your own success story.
1. Don't diet. "I keep it pretty basic. Green veggies are good, lean protein is good, and if I'm really craving something sweet, I go for fruit instead of a baked good. I think that's what I like best. I'm not on a diet, and I don't feel bad or guilty when I choose to indulge. I limit portions, and if I still feel hungry after I'm done, I'll drink a full glass of water and wait. A majority of the time I'm not still hungry after 10 minutes, but if I am, I'll eat a little more. If my body tells me it’s hungry, I eat!" — Lauren W., age 30, 42 pounds lost
>> Read more: 6 Ways To Get More Protein In Your Diet
2. Set a fitness goal. “The biggest game changer for me was discovering my inner athlete. I trained for my first triathlons and half-marathons, fell in love with weight lifting, and eventually began power lifting. I slowly learned to take pleasure in the progress I made with my performance instead of looking to burn calories. In short, I began to view fitness as something I could use to become more, instead of less. And with that came changes in my body that made me feel better and gave me confidence. Then, taking care of my body made me want to eat better. And the habits began to build and transformed my body, my mindset, and who I am today. Now I'm someone who uses fitness as the catalyst for feeling empowered in every aspect of life.” — Amy D., age 41, 100 pounds lost
3. Make tiny healthy changes. "I lost weight so slowly that I didn’t even notice until I easily slipped into a pair of pants that I hadn’t been able to wear in two years. But I think that’s made losing it and keeping it off doable. By making super-small changes, like increasing exercise, upping veggie intake, using the gym (instead of food) for stress relief, prepping meals, and not relying on takeout when I’m exhausted, I never felt like I was even trying to lose weight. I was just trying to make healthier decisions. Those choices became automatic and part of how I live my life." — Aleisha F., age 29, 22 pounds lost
>> Read more: 50 Small Changes That Can Change Your Life
To see three other women's weight loss advice, click here for the full story from Women's Health.