8 Body Transformation Photos That Prove You Don’t Have to Crash Diet to Lose Weight

| Before & After
before and after
(Photo: Image via Women's Health)

Sometimes, it takes a while to lose weight. But that can actually be a really great thing.

"Slow weight loss is a sign that you’re making slow and steady changes to your behaviors that are likely to stick for life," says Julie Upton, R.D., co-founder of Appetite for Health.

She says that losing weight slowly is also an indicator that you’re losing fat, not muscle. That’s especially good news since loss of muscle slows down your metabolism, contributing to rebound weight gain.

So how slow should you go? Ideally, depending on your size, weight, and how much body fat you have to lose, it’s best to lose no more than one to two pounds per week, Upton says. For most women, this requires eating about 500 to 1,000 fewer calories than you burn each day, which can be achieved through a combination of healthy eating and exercise, she says.

>> Read more: Exactly What to Eat in a Day for Weight Loss

Hitting that goal is all about building healthy habits into your daily lifestyle, using a slow and steady approach. "I have my clients focus on practicing one to two small habits until they become second nature, then they can add one or two more," she says.

No deprivation, no elimination diets, and no "quick fixes."

Here’s how eight women kicked crash diets to the curb and lost the weight for good.

1. "I practiced mindful eating."

"It was hard to quit dieting. I yo-yo'd ever since I was 13. But I knew in order to have a healthy relationship with food, I had to quit! So when I learned about intuitive eating, I decided to give it a try. I learned to listen to my body and focus on differentiating physical hunger from emotional hunger. I worked to put an end to mindless eating by eating at the kitchen table, rather than in the car, in front of the TV, or with electronics in hand. Bonus: I truly taste and enjoy my food, which is something I rarely did before. Now, bags of chips and candy can last for weeks in my house.

"It didn’t take long for me to start losing weight after I gave up dieting. And I never felt like I was restricting myself. I ended up losing 80 pounds over the course of 16 months. I’ve never had a better relationship with food than I do now!" —Katrina Buening, 30, lost 80 pounds

2. "I focused on nourishment, not results."

"I lost 35 pounds through restrictive dieting, then I gained about 10 back because I couldn’t handle the restriction and binged on the weekends. I realized I was a prisoner to my strict plan. I wanted to feel free to live my life and not obsess about food or my body all the time. I decided I was going to nourish my body, and it actually worked!

"Over the next year, with a more flexible approach, I got back to my target weight, in a healthier, more sustainable way. I stopped telling myself what I couldn’t have and focused on eating the foods my body needed. I eat nutrient-packed meals 80 percent of the time and enjoy other treats 20 percent of the time. Sustainability, to me, is all about including your non-negotiable food items into your diet.

"I do exercise, but I get bored easily. So I tend to mix it up a lot. I've done everything from body-weight circuits to high-intensity interval training to running outdoors to heavy lifting. I do whatever feels the most exciting in the moment." —Sheila Viers, 35, lost 35 pounds

Let today be the start of something new. Maybe you know you need to make a change. Maybe you’ve been putting it off for a while. But maybe, today… things are different. You’re ready. How do you get from where you are to where you want to go? You take the first step. And then another. You be realistic. You make a plan. You don’t expect overnight results. You focus on health over restriction. You look for things to appreciate. You stop complaining. You hold yourself accountable. You surround yourself with inspiring people. You talk about your goals. You clean up you environment. You get real with yourself. Transformation, in any respect, is a process. It’s a journey we have to be ready for. You have to want it. You have to be sick and tired of things being the way they are. And when that clicks, things just make sense. It’s that defining moment that ultimately changes your life. Abs and guns don’t come from a crash diet. They come from consistency and a commitment to creating a lifestyle that ultimately benefits you in so many more ways than just abs and guns.

A photo posted by Sheila Viers | Health Coach (@sheilaviers) on

3. "I tracked my meals and started running."

"I lost 160 pounds in three years. At first, I used MyFitnessPal to log my normal food intake and get an idea of how much I was overeating. Then, I cut my calories to maintain a 500-calorie deficit. When I felt like I had mastered my new food intake, I kept at it. For every 10 pounds I lost, I tweaked my caloric goals to build up to a larger deficit of 1,000 calories a day, which I was able to do because of my size at the time. Still, I never cut foods out of my diet. I simply pre-plan my meals and snacks so I know that my energy intake is on target.

>> Read more: The Best Apps to Help You Lose Weight

"After losing 100 pounds, which took me over a year, I began running. I went from couch to ultra marathoner in 14 months. In March 2015, I started running by doing run/walk intervals for about 30 minutes a day, four to five days a week. I kept building up my distance until May 2016, when I ran a 34.18-mile race. Now, I run six to seven days per week for 30 minutes to four-plus hours, depending on the day. —Kae Jones, 27, lost 160 pounds

4. "I picked up weights and threw out the scale."

"I started my journey about a year ago and lost 20 pounds over the course of four or five months. However, the more I got into weightlifting, the less I cared about the number on the scale. I actually threw my scale in the trash. I prefer to use my clothes and progress pictures as signs of change!

I weight train five to six days a week, working a different body part each day. I lift for about an hour per session and do cardio two to three days a week for about 15 minutes.

"I've learned that putting 100 percent into every single workout helps me get closer to where I would like to be." Katherine Salom, 22, lost 20-plus pounds

For the rest of the body transformations, click here to see the original article from Women's Health!

>> Read more: How This Mom Lost Over 100 Pounds and Looks 20 Years Younger

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