If you're trying to lose weight, health experts recommend writing down what you eat. Why? Because it works! A Kaiser Permanente study found that those who jotted down their intake lost twice as much as those who didn't. The following eight people not only started a food or exercise journal, but did so for the whole world to see, sharing all or a portion of their weight-loss journey online. Read their powerful stories and check out the drastic transformations.
Roni, 34, from Baltimore
Blog: ; Total Pounds Lost: 70
How I Did It: I finally realized that not everything revolved around how I looked in a bathing suit. I stopped seeking some insane vision of skinniness and joined with the intent of learning how to eat, not reaching a certain size. The small shift in focus made all the difference for me.
How My Blog Helped: I decided to post a weekly update on my blog to report my progress. This small commitment to post the good, bad and ugly was a huge part of my success. It gave me a place to face the emotional side of weight loss: I celebrated my losses, cried about my gains and vented when I felt like whining.
Top Tip: Set non-weight-related goals to build your confidence. Sometimes the scale will not be your friend, so you should set goals that are within your control: Sign up for a 5K, start a food journal or blog and commit to it, ditch the diet soda, have a four-day-a-week walking goal. Declare the goal, reach it and then set another.
Theodora, 27, from New York City
Blog: ; Total pounds lost: 55
How I Did It: I started working out with a trainer twice a week and doing cardio three or four times a week on top of that. I cut way back on fried food, refined carbs, dairy and red meat, and added in lots of fruits, veggies and lean protein. After a few months of being a gym rat, I took up running so that I could work out outside. A little over a year later, I've run three half-marathons, a marathon and countless other shorter-distance races.
How My Blog Helped: I started my blog for two reasons: to hold me accountable and to help me professionally. I was as unhappy with my career at the time as I was with my body. I started taking pictures of all of my meals and blogging about them, which kept me on track and helped me connect with other supportive, health-focused people. My blog also helped me land my current job as a social media specialist.
Top Tip: Remember that you don't have to be perfect to lose weight. If you get off track, you just get right back on. Don't let yourself sabotage the rest of the day or week or month. It's like getting a flat tire—you fix it and move on, you don't poke holes in the rest of your tires.
Ben Davis, 24, from Little Rock, Arkansas
Blog: ; Total Pounds Lost: 120
How I Did It: I went from 15 hours a day of computer games to running, running and more running (short distances at first, then building up to miles). I also started applying healthy eating principles that I already knew but didn't practice. I would walk in the grocery store and head for the fruits, vegetables and whole-grain breads rather than the frozen pizza section. Simple choices like that really put me in the mindset of eating smarter. I switched out Pop-Tarts and cereal for whole-grain English muffins and smoothies. I switched out McDonald's for sandwiches and soups.
How My Blog Helped: I started the blog after I made a Christmas promise to my grandmother to get a grip on my life. It served as an easy way for her to keep up with me from New England on a day-to-day basis. Over time, I began to accumulate an audience, so it really kept me on track and helped me stay motivated. I didn't want to let myself down; I didn't want to let my grandmother down; and I didn't want to let the Internet people down, either.
Top Tip: No matter what life change you need to make, do it publicly. Obviously you don't have to start a blog for the world to see, but make sure you're sharing your struggles with people who care about you. The natural thing for us to do is hide our vices and try to fix them in secret because we're ashamed. But I've found that, more often than not, people are excited for you, and will be there to support you and help you in any way they can.
Lori, 42, from Fort Edward, New York
Blog: ; Total pounds lost: 105
How I Did It: Basically it came down to calorie counting. Since I had so much weight to lose, I actually worked my way through a few different programs like . During that time, I picked out the things that I liked in each program and figured out how to make it work for me. It took me four years to lose 100 pounds, but I also knew that the changes I was making were changes that I could keep going with and love. I eat a diet that consists of whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats—with the occasional cupcake in there!
How My Blog Helped: I started blogging my daily eats and exercise instead of writing it in a physical journal to stay on track. When I began taking pictures of my food, I then began to plate it better and make the food look appetizing before I even sat down. I've also met some of the most wonderful people online that I would never have met had it not been for my blog.
Top Tip: Speak kindly to yourself. Expecting perfection is setting yourself up for failure. When you allow yourself to be imperfect and not beat yourself up, you will find it easier to make the right choices.
Katie, 22, from Charlotte, North Carolina
Blog: ; Total Pounds Lost: 50
How I Did It: Through portion control and exercise, I slowly lost 50 pounds over the course of about 14 months. Prior to starting my weight-loss journey, I had no idea what proper portions were. My idea of what was "right" was distorted because I was never educated about it. Once I started to pay attention to how many servings I was actually consuming, my body also learned what it really feels like to be hungry and full. I still eat the same foods as before, but less of them.
How My Blog Helped: My blog came after the weight loss as a means of maintaining. After reading several food blogs and being intrigued about the concept, I decided to start my own. It has evolved into my take on healthy living, which involves healthy eating, exercise, indulgence in moderation and spending time with family and friends. Through sharing my daily ups and downs in a public way, I have learned not only how to maintain my weight through exercise and healthy eating, but also to live life without fear.
Top Tip: Step off the scale! Judge your weight loss on how your clothes fit, how you feel both inside and out, and the choices you make. The scale is only a small indicator of what weight loss really means. Being healthy means living the life you've always dreamed of!
Lynn, 47, from Pittsburgh
Blog: ; Total pounds lost: 168
How I Did It: At first, I lost all of my weight through online (I never attended a meeting). Only after I lost 110 pounds did I start exercising by walking with a friend at our local track. We started with a mile, and every week added a quarter-mile. I eventually built up the strength to walk a 5K in 38 minutes.
How My Blog Helped: I started my blog after being on Weight Watchers for 6 months (I'd lost 50 pounds by then) to get a big monkey off my back: my scale number. All my life I've been afraid to tell anyone what I weighed. What if someone found out? What would they think of me? But it's not like you can hide 300 pounds, so by "telling my secret," I found freedom and support from a number of people who were on the same journey.
Top Tip: Never, ever start "dieting" until you've done the inside work first. You've got to answer these questions first: Why do I want to lose weight? Is it out of self-loathing or self-love? If the answer is self-loathing, a diet won't work. If you don't love the "you" that's 200, 300 or 400 pounds, you can't take care of yourself the way you need and deserve to as you're losing weight. Learning to love yourself—or at least care enough to work toward loving yourself—is key to successful weight loss.
Erika, 26, from Miami Beach, Florida
Blog: ; Total Pounds Lost: 163
How I Did It: I lost my weight by dropping processed foods, cutting down on sugar, lifting a few weights, embracing yoga and becoming a runner!
How My Blog Helped: I began my blog as a way of keeping myself accountable for the things I was learning on my journey toward better health and a more fit body. I could never say "I didn't know that" if I knew I could turn around and read my own words, where it was essentially me writing and explaining it to myself.
Top Tip: Take stress management seriously! When we feel stressed out, it becomes more difficult for our bodies to burn fat. Find an outlet to relieve stress such as kickbo, yoga, journaling or sports. Basically anything that will help you relieve pent-up tension and energy.
Amanda, 29, from Troy, New York
Blog: ; Total pounds lost: 107
How I Did It: Ditching fast food and becoming active. After I had my daughter, I had takeout almost every night. I had no concept of portion control and often ate until I felt sick. I started to pay attention to portion sizes and weigh everything that I ate. It's so easy to overestimate a cup of cereal, and if you overestimate 100 calories five times a week, that's an additional 500 calories! Once I lost about 50 pounds, I started running and eating more veggies, proteins and healthy carbs to fuel my body.
How My Blog Helped: I started my blog when I was already down 70 pounds to keep myself accountable. I was at a standstill with my weight loss and thought that recording what I ate as well as my thoughts would help keep me on track. Eventually my blog took a turn toward a running blog. I started to train for my first half-marathon and documented each milestone. I want people to know that if I can go from being 276 pounds to running marathons, they can too!
Top Tip: Add exercise to your life. Not only does exercise burn calories, but it also makes you feel good. There are so many times that I am in a bad mood and I lace up my sneakers anyway to go for a run.