weight loss story

Photo: Courtesy of Katie Foster

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1. Commit to Small Changes

After successfully losing weight, studies show that up to two-thirds of dieters gain it all back—and then some. Here, what four women did to beat those odds.

Katie Foster
Weight lost: 125 pounds
For how long: 7 years

After more than a decade of yo-yo dieting, Katie Foster, age 35, decided to take a more moderate and doable approach. "I wasn't going to make any changes that I wouldn't be willing to stick with for the rest of my life," she says, focusing instead on healthy-lifestyle tweaks that she could follow long-term.

For Foster, that meant cutting down portion sizes of her regular junk food and making manageable food swaps, such as subbing in apple slices for potato chips. Over time, she was able to add more changes to her daily routine, including walking for exercise and, later, running. Those small but lasting changes resulted in Foster not just losing 125 pounds the first time around, but also her being able to keep them off for seven years—even while eating one treat every day.

And there's science to explain her success. According to a meta-analysis in JAMA, researchers found that different popular diets led to relatively similar levels of weight loss in the short term. However, the findings suggest that diets people can actually stick to may lead to the greatest sustained weight loss.