How You Can Get Started*
Q I NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT. HOW CAN I GET STARTED?
"Just take it day by day. I didn't set a goal that I was going to lose x amount, because if I didn't achieve it, it would have been one more thing to bring me down. I just said, 'I'm going to get healthier.' It's not about losing weight quickly; it's about changing your life."
"I recommend that you start seeing a psychiatrist, because you don't realize the baggage you've been carrying around. [You have to] let that go."
"Rid your kitchen of everything [bad] you've eaten before, 'cause you can't have that tempting you, and then fill up your fridge with lots of chicken, fish and vegetables."
Q I HAVE SUCH A SWEET TOOTH! HOW CAN I SATISFY IT WITHOUT BREAKING MY DIET?
"Sugar-free ice cream—it's like 90 calories per serving."
"The 100-calorie snack packs of Keebler shortbread cookies with fudge are small, but they're enough to get that sweetness you might want."
"My mom came up with this great recipe: You make two packages of sugar-free gelatin, then get either an 8-oz. tub of sugar-free or fat-free whipped topping and let it thaw out. Then you take that and an 8-oz. container of fat-free cream cheese—let it soften first—and 5 to 10 packets of Splenda and beat them together in a mixer; use the mixture as 'frosting' for the gelatin. I take this dessert to all the potlucks at work, and it's a big hit."
"I carry around sugar-free caramel pecan candies. If you're at a party where there's cheesecake staring you in the face, it helps to grab one of those things instead. Or chew gum!"
Q WHAT IF I CAN'T RESIST A CRAVING?
"If I want a cookie, I'll eat a cookie, because if I don't, I'll feel like I'm depriving myself—and I'll end up eating more than one! But if I eat it, then, say, I won't eat any bread that day, or maybe I'll have mustard instead of mayo on my sandwich. You have to be sure to compensate."
"Anybody can walk, and there's no cost. You have no excuses!"
Q WHAT'S A COMMON DIET MISTAKE YOU SEE OTHERS MAKE?
"The idea that you can give yourself a day to eat whatever you want. I'm not going to tell you I'm never going to have a piece of cake. But I can't have the mentality, 'Oh, Saturday is my day off, and I can eat what I want.' It's like a functioning alcoholic who says, 'Hey, I just drink on Friday and Saturday night, and then I'm fine.' It doesn't work."
"Not being prepared, because that's when you're more likely to indulge. I try to carry snacks in my purse like a cheese stick or a protein bar."
"Breaking their routine. Once you break it, it's hard to get back into it. A lot of people say things like, 'Oh, I was sick for four days,' or 'I have a lot going on so I can't make it to the gym for three days.' I know life happens, but you have to try to stick to your routine."
Q I'M SOMEONE WHO EATS FOR EMOTIONAL COMFORT. HOW DO I HANDLE FEELING STRESSED OR SAD WITHOUT FOOD?
"What helps me is a journal. So if I start thinking, 'Oh, my gosh, I want to eat this block of cheese,' I write in my journal what I'm feeling and what's going through my mind, and it really helps, because you're like, 'Wait a minute. I can't do this. Look how far I've come.'"
"When I realize I want to overeat, I replace that with something healthy. I go to the gym, I go running; it can be music or a movie. You have to find something else."
Q I HAVE A HARD TIME LOSING THOSE LAST 20 LBS.—THEY JUST DON'T SEEM TO COME OFF! WHAT CAN I DO?
"Shake up your exercise routine. I ended up adding Pilates to my cardio workouts, and it helped a great deal, especially when it came to getting the inches off."
"When I go to family parties, I bring my own food to eat"
Q I HATE TO EXERCISE! WHAT KIND OF WORKOUT MAKES SENSE FOR ME?
"The stationary bike is something anyone can do. You just sit there and move your legs! And you can read a magazine."
Q I DO WELL ON DIETS FOR A WHILE, BUT WHEN I HIT A PLATEAU I GIVE UP. HOW CAN I HANG IN THERE?
"I tried to reward myself with one favorite food, like calamari, every time I lost 10 lbs. When I hit my 50-lb. mark, I went out and ate whatever I wanted. And at 100 lbs., I promised myself a vacation: I went to the Philippines for two weeks!"
—MARY JANE SEKITO
"I carry around old pictures of me at my heaviest. They're a reminder of where I came from."
"Do a lot of exercising!"
Get more diet tips—or share your own!—at PEOPLE.COM/LOOKGREAT
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