weight loss plan

In our April 2016 issue, we featured nine women looking to make bold changes. Each had a different goal, but there was one common denominator: Everyone in the group felt her weight was holding her back from realizing her dreams. That's where we came in. We set them up with professional guidance to help them chart a new course to a better life. Follow along.

Meet the Experts

Clinical psychologist Camilla Mager, who specializes in treating women with disordered eating, provided one-on-one phone counseling.

Registered dietitian Marissa Lippert, who founded the New York City nutrition-counseling firm Nourish, analyzed each woman's food diary.

Rachel Mariotti, a personal trainer at Equinox, evaluated the women's fitness assessments. She shares the best no-weights-required moves our ladies can do on the go.
weight loss plan

Princess Gardner

AGE: 15

GOAL: To have a healthier relationship with food. Princess enjoys exercising—she goes to a workout class with her mother five days a week—but she has a hard time resisting sweets and processed food.

Emotional Check-in: "Part of what Princess is dealing with is that what worked for Mom, who lost 160 pounds, may be harder for Princess as a teenager," says Mager. "Princess's mom wants her to bring a healthy lunch to school, but most students don't do that, so Princess feels different—not something most adolescents like to be. If Princess doesn't feel positively about the changes she's making, she's not going to keep them up. I think Princess and her mom need to work together to find a more realistic meal plan."

Nutrition Advice: Eat smaller meals with protein and complex carbs more often. Lippert suggests that Princess eat every three to four hours, incorporating a snack on most days, which will be easier to fit into her schedule. "I'd also like to see her add in more filling carbs, like quinoa, at dinner most nights," says Lippert. "She'll have greater energy and feel satisfied—both of which will help her body burn calories effectively."
weight loss plan

Carolyn "Cookie" Minick Mason

AGE: 50

GOAL: To find balance. Cookie is great at caring for others, but she's ready to put herself—and her health—first.

Emotional Check-in: "Cookie is a strong woman who has a tremendous amount going on," says Mager. "She's the mother of two kids, and she pursues a lot of activities. She's not great at taking things off her plate." As a result, Cookie barely sleeps, averaging only two to three hours per night. "Her body is struggling just to get its basic needs met, so it's harder to lose weight," says Mager. "Plus, Cookie is more likely to reach for sugary foods when she's sleep deprived. She should set a goal of at least six hours each night."

Nutrition Advice: Build a better breakfast and cut back on dessert. "Cookie can still enjoy dessert, but she should limit the banana pudding to only a few nights a week and save the morning cinnamon rolls for a special occasion," says Lippert. "She needs to start her day with better-quality fuel." Lippert suggests two scrambled eggs with cheese, avocado, and fruit, or old-fashioned rolled oats made with almond milk, fruit, and cinnamon.
weight loss plan

Bobbi Allison

AGE: 49

GOAL: To love herself more. Bobbi wants to travel, play with her grandkids without losing her breath, and be in pictures instead of always taking them. She's ready to be seen.

Emotional Check-in: In November 2015, Bobbi underwent a lap band revision and gastric sleeve surgery, in which part of her stomach was removed. The procedure has very strict post-op rules, including no sugar or alcohol. "Much to Bobbi's credit, she has been able to stick to the diet," says Mager. "My concern is that at some point, she may begin to miss the foods she used to love. I suggest Bobbi work with a therapist who specializes in food and weight issues, so she can conquer any emotional eating that may be lingering."

Nutrition Advice: Stop eating the same foods all the time. "Variety is a must," says Lippert. "It's what provides us with different nutrients and keeps our metabolism on its toes." Her tips for Bobbi: Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables she's taking in. Try putting bananas and berries into Greek yogurt, or adding seasonal veggies to a salad—with a scoop of the chicken salad and hummus that Bobbi already eats. At dinner, have complex carbs like whole grain farro, brown rice, or roasted sweet potatoes.

Cheer on our women! Follow their progress on Instagram @oprahmagazine.
weight loss plan

Lindsay Gutierrez

AGE: 25

GOAL: To land her dream job with the Department of Homeland Security. But first, Lindsay must pass the required fitness test.

Emotional Check-in: "Moderation, in general, will be huge for Lindsay," says Mager. "She's exercising two and a half hours a day, but her weight loss has plateaued. What she doesn't realize is that she's eating too little and exercising too much, which sets her up to overeat when she does have meals. I encouraged her to find a more moderate form of exercise that's sustainable when she has a full-time job. Food is also a very big deal in her culture, so she has to find a way to embrace the things she values without feeling deprived."

Nutrition Advice: Consume real food in place of her regular protein shakes. "Lindsay needs to focus on eating a well-rounded dinner," says Lippert. An easy breakdown for meals: 50 percent of the plate should be veggies or salad, 25 percent protein, and 25 percent healthy carbs.
weight loss plan

Jenny Hutt

AGE: 46

GOAL: To lose five to ten pounds and conquer her body issues. Jenny has lost and gained major weight before, but she's eager to "be free of this body stuff."

Emotional Check-in: "Jenny's mentality is one where food is the enemy, and that's a very difficult place to be because it sets her up to be constantly in a fight with what she's eating," says Mager. "She also weighs herself every day, and when a person does that, there's a real tendency to associate the number on the scale with personal value. That's why I want Jenny to focus on finding a sense of worth that has nothing to do with her weight."

Nutrition Advice: Drop the protein shakes. "They can be full of fake stuff that's not nutrient rich," says Lippert. "Jenny will reach her goals more efficiently with real food. She can make a smoothie with fruit, almond milk, nut butter, and some cinnamon or vanilla extract and a date for flavor and sweetness. It will be much more filling. I also want her to add in at least one or two servings of real fruit—not just juice—per day."

See what our other four women are doing on their weight loss journey.