maintaining weight loss

Photo: Courtesy of Arielle Calderon

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3. Get Cooking

Arielle Calderon
Weight lost: 100 pounds
For how long: 1 year

When Arielle Calderon, 28, set out to lose weight, her main goal was to get healthy. "I would get spotty vision for about 30 minutes per day and had trouble seeing. I was so scared," she says. So, in the name of health (and at the recommendation of her optometrist), she knew she had to start by improving her nutrition. Until then, Calderon ate mostly processed convenience foods and cooked virtually none of the food she ate. For her, "cooking" had always meant microwaving mashed potatoes.

"I started YouTube-ing things like 'How to properly cut an apple' and 'How to roast Brussels sprouts,'" she says. "I legitimately had to start at the beginning. But it helped give me an overall sense of the basics." After learning to master meals such as canned black beans, instant brown rice and baked chicken breasts, she took on full-blown Pinterest recipes such as spaghetti-squash boats and zoodle bowls and made them her own.

"Now, I prepare about 90 percent of my meals," says Calderon, who regularly shares her healthy-meal ideas and cooking endeavors with her 180,000 Instagram followers. "I created a habit around cooking and love it." With that healthy habit in tow—one research has found to be common among those who successfully keep the weight off—she has lost more than 100 pounds and kept it off for a year.