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Resolving to lose weight? Take these tips from readers who did

Ask anyone who has successfully lost weight and you'll learn two things: it's no easy feat, and it demands a permanent change in lifestyle. We've received 163 stories from Globe readers about their weight loss journeys this year, and we've shared our favourites in a regular feature called How I Lost It. In the spirit of actually sticking to our resolutions this year, The Globe caught up with five of readers for some healthy words of wisdom.

Jeff Day, Calgary

Total pounds dropped: 45. I’ve consistently stayed under 200 lbs. My doctor says I could lose another 10, but she’s obviously a sadist. After reaching my first goal of losing the extra weight, I didn’t want to stop there: I signed up to run a 10-mile race this past October. Preparing for this race kept me focused and motivated. I’m still working out four days a week for an hour at a time. If it’s not the best part of my day, it’s close.

My biggest challenge since being featured: The claustrophobic Justin Bieber-like fame. … No, the hardest thing for me was what to do next. After running the 10-mile race, I was left a little discombobulated. A bit of fire had been run out of me. Briefly, I took solace in the cool arms of vanilla ice cream again. But my will was strong and I kept at my routine.

My proudest accomplishment this year: Having my wife and children come to the run and see me accomplish that race. It was a big deal for me. I was sedentary for 17 years.

My health resolution for next year: I really want to develop a huge intimidating muscular neck. The kind of neck that is almost a second torso. I think big necks will be all the rage in the coming year.

My advice for people resolving to get in better shape in 2014: You need to build a routine around healthy eating and being active and adjust your behaviour to it. Treat your exercise times as meetings. Listen to the voices in your head. If your mental talk is about how crappy you look or feel, chances are you look crappy and feel crappy. When you get active, those voices go away, or at least get quieter. At that point you have to learn to listen to your body. (Also, if you run with your phone, never answer it while running. It’s just awkward.)

Veronique Desjardins, Montreal

Total pounds dropped: 80. I’m proud to say that I have stayed on track. I’ve lost an additional 10 pounds since being featured – not an an enormous amount but I have really toned my body. And, as if it were possible, I developed an even healthier lifestyle. Since March, I have been receiving a weekly basket from a local farm that specializes in sustainable agriculture. It allows me to try all kinds of vegetables and experiment in the kitchen.

My biggest challenge since being featured: I have started working in the music industry, and I need to be flexible about my workouts and disciplined about my food and alcohol intake. Going to events and concerts, I am faced with drinks, appetizers and all sorts of temptations. I always try to eat something before an event, and I allow myself to enjoy a drink here and there. And I practise multiple sports a week, so I can mix and match my workout hours to make I get the burn in every week.

My proudest accomplishment this year: I cycled to work almost every day from March to November, which added up to a bit more than 20 km a day.

My health resolution for next year: My good friend completed her first marathon this fall, and has challenged me to do a triathlon with her. I’ll start my training in January. She would like us to complete an Olympic distance triathlon in September. I will build my way up to it – I just need to train on a regular basis and get in the pool!

My advice for people resolving to get in better shape in 2014: Take it one step at a time. Start with one simple thing: Bring a healthy lunch to work, or take a 15 to 20 minute walk during your lunch break. You will see even if it’s not much, it will make a difference. Eventually you will want to do more. That 15-minute walk will become a 15-minute jog, and then the sky’s the limit!

Rob Callard, Beaconsfield, Que.

Pounds dropped: 70. I feel great – I’ve maintained the same weight for more than two years now. I have kept right on track since being featured in The Globe, and still use the index cards to track my daily eating habits. This is part of my ritual now and I feel guilty if I don’t fill out the cards.

I cycled more than 8,200 kilometres this year, and continue to do a 60-km round trip to work nine months of the year. The other three months, I do intensive spinning sessions at the gym. I said it before: The bike saved my life.

Doctors continue to monitor my blood every four months, and encourage me to keep doing what I’m doing. They love that I have kept up the cardio aspect of my exercise.

My biggest challenge since being featured: I embarked on a 160-km ride in one day in upstate New York, which featured a three-mile average grade climb of 10-15 per cent (Tongue Mountain). It was quite the challenge: a steady climb, all day with the wind in my face most of the time. At the end of the day, the feeling of accomplishment was amazing – a metaphor for my entire weight loss journey: It’s hard, but the payoff is worth it.

My proudest accomplishment this year: Participating in three charity rides: the Ride to Conquer Cancer (Montreal to Quebec City), Team Ian 2013 (Kingston to Montreal), and the 401 Bike Challenge (Toronto to Montreal). I’ve raised more than $115,000 for cancer research in two years.

My health resolution for next year: I want to expand my core training, in order to complement and improve my endurance on the bike, especially for long sportive rides.

My advice for people resolving to get in better shape in 2014: Write everything you eat on an index card, which you keep in your pocket. It’s amazing how much we eat without realizing it.

DJ Austin, Caledon, Ont.

Total pounds lost: 35. My weight has fluctuated a lot due to competing in my first ever body building show. My weight when I appeared in The Globe Life was 165 lbs, I weighed 148 lbs at the body building show in November, and now I’m holding around 160 lbs.

I have fallen in love with competing. I’m very happy to report I am more on track than ever before.

My biggest challenge this year: By far it was “dieting down” for my show. It took a lot of mental strength, way more than the physical strength involved in training. As my body fat dropped lower and lower, calories dropping every few weeks, and cardio sessions becoming more intense. I learned how to dig deep for something I really want: I just went for it, and never looked back.

My proudest accomplishment this year: By far it was the body physique show: It was the most amazing feeling stepping on that stage, showing that crowd what I’ve worked hard to achieve and taking my body where I thought it could never go.

My health resolution for next year: I want to keep motivated and on track so that I can take the stage again and be better than ever.

My advice for people resolving to get in better shape in 2014: Pick an action plan and stick to it: Consistency is key. Don’t get down on yourself if you don’t see changes right away – there is no magic pill. It takes time, dedication and faith in yourself.

Janine Scott, Grand Prairie, Alta.

Total pounds dropped: 60. My life has been busy and challenging since I was featured in The Globe – and giving birth to a beautiful boy has led to unavoidable weight gain. (I was actually unknowingly pregnant in the after picture I provided for the article!) I gained 40 pounds while pregnant and am working on shedding the last 10, to get back to my prebaby weight.

My biggest challenge this year: I had to work hard at not letting myself fall into the “eating for two” mindset, and not cave to all my evil cravings. For the most part, I was lucky: the foods I craved most were fresh fruit and veggies. (A sign of a health-conscious little boy, I’d say.) I stayed very active my entire pregnancy: cross-country skiing, and walking at least 6 km a day, right up until the day I gave birth. Knowing I’ve once allowed myself to get to 250 lbs, I couldn’t let myself put on a bunch of unnecessary weight.

My proudest accomplishment this year: By far, my proudest moment was giving birth on June 5. He is beautiful and healthy.

My resolution for 2014: I’ve never been a big gym girl, but winters in northern Alberta make it tough to do many outdoor activities with a six-month-old. So my resolution is to hit the gym often, and tone up. I’ve done it before and know I can do it again!

My advice for people resolving to get in better shape in 2014: Stay focused on your goal – once you lose the first five pounds, it will motivate you to keep going.

These interviews have been edited and condensed.

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