Exactly How I Exercised To Lose 50 Pounds
We asked 7 women who to share their go-to , and the results were surprisingly varied. You don’t have to fit one specific mold of exercise—you just have to find something that sticks. Here’s how they found long-term success. (!)
helped Jolie cut back from nearly 400 pounds. About 10 years ago, she had plateaued at 200, but she wasn’t satisfied. “I had never worked out, but I love to dance,” she says. A friend recommended the , a hip-hop cardio dance class for women, and it was love at first sweat. “I became a total groupie,” Jolie says. She started going daily, sometimes twice a day, and limiting her calories, and in 4 months she had dropped 60 pounds. “I feel the best I’ve ever felt in my life at 42,” she says. “I used to think I’d never be successful with exercise until I found dancing. It’s about finding what you love and being consistent. I’m living proof. It’s the best thing I ever did.”
60 minutes of dance cardio, 7 days a week
When Alina, now 39, was diagnosed with and told it could make it difficult for her to have kids, she decided it was time to make some health changes. “I had always wanted to be a mom,” she says. “I’d been larger my whole life, but I realized my weight wasn’t just affecting me but affecting my future.” At 300 pounds, she felt too embarrassed to exercise in public, but her parents had a in the garage. “I would wait until everybody else went to sleep,” she says, before she’d sneak into the garage . Progress was slow, sometimes painfully so. “I was losing 3 or 4 pounds a month and wondering if it was even worth it,” she says. But she stuck with it, and about a year later felt comfortable enough to check out aerobics and Jazzercise classes at a local gym. Over 10 years later, she’s now a muscular 190 pounds and even became a Jazzercise instructor. She’s tried pole dancing, , kickboxing, obstacle races, and more. “I have defined myself as an athlete,” she says. “Before, I felt like I wasn’t invited to the big fun party that was getting in shape. Now, my body isn’t perfect, but I feel like part of the club.”
on the treadmill, 5 days a week
Darcey, now 44, was hovering at about 190 pounds when her mom passed away. “I kind of hit rock bottom both in terms of my weight and ,” she says. She also moved to a new town around the same time. “I was approaching 40, profoundly unhappy, and alone in a brand new community.” But she also felt like she had been handed a chance for a new start, so she downloaded a app on her phone. “I wasn’t a runner prior to using the app,” which tells you when to switch between walking and running over a 30-minute workout, she says. “I thought I’d never be able to do a 5K, but you build each day from a small success the day before. You’re training your mind at the same time as you’re training your body.” She found running helped with her grief, too. “Just as the pain of the run ended at my finish after 30 minutes, I also felt just a little bit better emotionally at the end of a run, and each run that feeling grew.” And grew: She 2 years after picking up the sport, and today she’s maintaining a 50-pound weight loss and .
30-minute run/walk, 3 times a week
In April 2013, it dawned on Lareen that her daughter was going to be heading off to college soon. “I had focused all this attention on being a and a great employee and I hadn’t spent any time on myself,” she says. At 341 pounds, she decided one way to give herself some special attention was to . Around the same time, she came across a video detailing the benefits of a daily . It was still chilly outside in her hometown in Utah, so she hopped on a instead. “I only wanted to do exercises I could commit to for the rest of my life,” she says. Starting out, she was lucky if she could pedal for 12 minutes with zero resistance. But she worked her way up to 30 minutes, and by April 2015 she was down to 150 pounds. Now, at 56, she’s maintaining by , walking as much as she can, and spending summer weekends hiking.
30 minutes on the stationary bike, 7 days a week. Plus, take extra steps wherever possible: Park in the farthest corner of parking lots, walk during lunch breaks, drop the car off with her daughter at work and walk home.
The 47-year-old from Atlanta, who blogs at used to be almost completely . “I was what you could call a pure couch potato,” she says. “I had no , fitness, or sports background. I thought people who exercised were crazy.” But seeing the number on the scale creep up past 240 made her realize it was time to make some changes. She started small, with on a home treadmill, adding a minute every day until she could walk 30 to 45 minutes at a time. By then, she’d lost enough weight to feel comfortable trying some classes at the gym, and after 14 months she’d lost 90 pounds. But, as she says, “life happens,” and 50 pounds eventually crept back on. She started taking note of the fitness habits of a football player who lived in her apartment building, and he introduced her to a trainer. (Here are .) That was about 3 years ago, and today she weighs 155 pounds. “For me, ,” she says. “My workouts are moderate, consistent, and specific, and now I’m stronger than I’ve ever been.”
30-minute walk, 5 days a week. Strength-train with trainer 40 minutes, twice a week.
“I’ve always been active, I just love to eat a lot more,” says Luz, a 60-year-old attorney, but when she started feeling sluggish and achy at 57, she knew something was up. At 322 pounds, she cycled through a handful of doctors who didn’t take her seriously because of her weight. But when she finally found someone willing to give her the care she deserved, she was shocked by the results: stage 1 . Chemotherapy led to an 80-pound weight loss, and that’s when she decided to join Retro Fitness Gym, conveniently located in the same building as her office. There, she spoke with trainers about her goal to complete the Avon 39 breast cancer walk in honor of her aunts who had died from the disease.
Today, Luz is down 152 pounds and has been chemo-free for a year. She’s looking to lose about 20 more pounds to reach her goal weight of 140. “These have been the hardest to lose,” she says. “I keep a picture of what I used to look like to motivate myself. It’s gonna happen.” She’s added and to her routine, and she’ll complete the 39-mile walk for a second time this October, with her eye on running the 2017 New York City marathon.
45 minutes to 1 hour of either a walk/jog on the treadmill or , 5 to 6 days a week, and 1 day of circuit training with weights
The 53-year-old founder and host of Functional Fitness on PBS and president of expected her fitness background would come in handy after giving birth in her 30s. “I was 186 pounds, and since I’m only 5’2″, I was uncomfortably large,” she says. The extra from those added pounds made every step excruciating; walking to shed pounds was out of the question. “A physical therapist helped me realize that exercise was the one thing I needed to do to get rid of the pain,” she says, and she promptly designed herself a . “It wouldn’t , and I could gradually progress to a more challenging standing level,” she explains. “Little did I know I was designing the context of my future PBS series!” She also credits meditation with her 60-pound loss. “The first step to weight loss begins in your mind,” she says.
daily for 10 minutes, visualizing herself at her goal weight, plus 30 minutes of chair exercises daily, incorporating weights 2 to 3 times a week.