Barbara Delamarter, 38, 5'7"
Before: 185 lbs. (size 14/16)
I never had a weight problem—in fact, I was always active. All that changed, though, when I went from stay-at-home mom to special-education teacher in the summer of 2010. The shake-up to my daily routine wreaked havoc on my eating habits. I reached for anything that was convenient. Instead of cooking, I took my family out for fast food at least three times a week. And the weekends weren't complete without pizza, breadsticks, wings and soda (often all in one meal!). Within a year I'd outgrown my clothes and was carrying about 50 extra pounds.
Not the picture of health
My wake-up call came in the form of a holiday card from my mother, which included photos from a recent family trip. When I looked at the shots, I was mortified! Those images were all I needed to get serious about my health. After New Year's, I downloaded the free app MyFitnessPal and began tracking everything I ate. I also measured my portions to help curb overeating. I cut out soda and made sure I had a veggie such as broccoli or peas with each meal. By the end of the first month, I had knocked off 12 pounds. The initial weight loss completely energized me, and for the first time in over a year I was excited to get out of bed in the morning.
One step at a time
Still, I knew I needed to exercise if I wanted to lose more. So I started walking two miles around my neighborhood every day, and I even ran-walked a 5K. By May I was a full-fledged runner, logging four miles daily. And I was down another 36 pounds! My calves shrank and I finally fit back into the boots I'd thrown in the back of the closet. Even the fat that had settled around my lower back melted away! Almost a year later, I've kept the weight off and am still running. My next challenge? Conquering the Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon course. It's a hard one, but I know I am up to it.
After: 132 lbs. (size 6)
Total weight lost: 53 lbs. (sizes lost: 4/5)
Steal Barbara's top three strategies:
Make fitness fun. I love running, but it can get monotonous. To beat boredom, I sign up for wacky races with friends. I've done several mud runs, and I just completed a "color run"—a 5K race where you get spritzed with colored powder at each kilometer. The more fun I make exercise, the more likely I am to keep doing it.
Bring snacks: I don't like too much time to go by without eating, which can be tough with my jam-packed schedule. So I keep light bites on hand, like Special K Sea Salt Cracker Chips.
Have your guilty pleasures. I've learned not to deprive myself, because all that does is make me gorge. So I eat what I want—even Double Stuf Oreos—just in smaller portions. Three cookies and I'm totally satisfied!