About: Sometimes, it’s okay to take a helping hand when it comes to weight loss. That’s exactly what the author of Banded Carolina Girl did. In 2012, she had lap band surgery and dropped from a size 30 to a size 12 and saw her BMI drop from 62 to 32. Two years later, she started a blog to talk about “the good, the bad and everything in between.” On her blog, you’ll find quick-hit posts offering inspiration and encouragement to not just lose weight, but also to learn how to love and accept yourself.
About: It may be tough to tell by looking at her photo (complete with a very toned tummy), but Hannah’s no stranger to gaining weight. She packed on about 50 pounds each time she became pregnant with her two kids until she eventually went from a size 4 to a size 12-14. The pregnancies also changed her body and made her unhappy with the way she looked. Ready for change, Hannah created a fitness and food plan for herself, stuck to it and noticed she slowly but surely lost weight and started to look more and more toned. Now she’s studying to be a personal trainer, and her blog is a place she shares all her fitness tips, nutrition ideas and motivation to help others lose weight too.
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Cut back on calories. The most important part of losing weight is not working out until you collapse — it's your diet. If you burn 500 to 750 more calories than what you eat every day, you will lose 1–2 pounds every week (any more than that is considered unsafe weight loss). There are tons of little changes you can make to cut calories from your diet, from replacing high-calorie dressings with vinaigrette and asking for all dressings/sauces served on the side, eating at the table instead of in front of the tv, skipping cheese and other fatty additions to your salads and meals, using smaller plates, leave off the whipped cream on your coffee drink, and on and on.[2]
When you're at your heaviest, it can be intimidating to step into a gym and begin running or lifting among the spandex-clad. Working out in your own space is also simply easier to schedule—you can lift weights while the baby naps or first thing in the morning without dragging yourself out the door. "I bought an exercise bike so I can work out whenever I want," says Sarah DeArmond, who lost 100 pounds.

To drop serious lbs, you need the one-two punch of aerobic exercise plus strength training. Resistance helps build and preserve metabolism-boosting lean muscle while burning fat and is especially key when you hit a plateau. Amanda Green lost 15 pounds in two months doing hour-long cardio DVDs, but it wasn't until she started running outside and lifting weights three times a week that she was able to ditch the last 15 of her 30-pound goal.

Why does this popular plan work? For one thing, it pushes wildly healthy staples to the forefront (think: nuts, vegetables, fruit, olive oil). For another, it's simply delicious, thanks to it's focus on fresh, simply prepared dishes like grilled fish with lemon and whole wheat pita with hummus. Science agrees: One meta-review of 16 studies, found the eating M.O. helped those on it lose an average of 8.5 pounds.
Getting enough protein every day, whether you’re in a quick-fix or long-term mindset is important for keeping your muscles and metabolism healthy throughout weight loss. Make sure you’re having some chicken breast, lean ground turkey, fish, seafood or tempeh that’s the size of a deck of cards at every meal. When snacking, have 2 eggs, 1/4 cup of nuts, or 3/4 cup of Greek yogurt or cottage cheese to meet your protein needs and stay full and feel slim.
Choose Liquid Calories Wisely. Sweetened drinks pile on the calories, but don't reduce hunger like solid foods do. Satisfy your thirst with water, sparkling water with citrus, skim or low-fat milk, or small portions of 100% fruit juice. Try a glass of nutritious and low-calorie vegetable juice to hold you over if you get hungry between meals. Be careful of alcohol calories, which add up quickly. If you tend to drink a glass or two of wine or a cocktail on most days, limiting alcohol to the weekends can be a huge calorie saver.
It's not just what you eat that can make you pack on pounds—it's also how much. Before dropping 102 pounds, DeGennaro did not have a grip on proper serving sizes. "Sitting down to dinner with my husband and three kids, I'd scarf down mounds of pasta and endless rolls," she says. "Adjusting to smaller portions was tricky at first; I'd round out meals with extra veggies to keep from getting hungry."

Andie is a healthy recipe developer and New York Times best-selling author. She shares some of her most delectable food ideas on her blog. She’ll tell you right up front: She believes in balancing health and happiness. And it was through that balance that she lost 135 pounds — a journey that can also be found in her memoir, “It Was Me All Along.” Visit the blog.
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