When it comes to weight loss, most experts agree a healthy diet is more effective than exercise. People often work out more and more, desperately hoping they can eat whatever they want. But it’s a balanced diet that makes the real difference with your waistline.That’s why people who successfully lose weight — and keep it off — adopt lifelong, healthy eating habits.“I wish I hadn’t tried all the gimmicks and spent thousands of dollars on fad diets that never worked,” Heather Crockett Oram told TODAY, via email. Oram lost 82 pounds by changing her eating and exercise habits. “I wish someone would have told me it’s not an all-or-nothing type of thing.”Oram and nine other women share what they wished they knew before changing their diets.When people first adopt healthy eating habits, they sometimes think they can never eat a slice of cake or a piece of pizza. Then when they do, they feel like failures. But people who succeed know one mistake isn’t the end of the world.“The times when … my treat day turned into a treat month, I wish I had someone to tell me that it is OK and just get back on track,” Patricia Wilson told TODAY. Wilson lost 100 pounds.“It is OK to fail,” she said via email. “As long as you fail forward — don’t give up, keep pushing through.”LeAnne Manuel thought buying healthy foods cost more money. That was one of her excuses to eat processed and junk foods. But soon after changing her eating habits, she learned she was saving dollars.“We actually spend a lot less now. For one, the amount of ingredients has cut back. I eat about half the volume that I used to eat,” said Manuel, who lost 165 pounds.
In the past when Jenna Winchester tried losing weight, she cut all bad foods from her diet at once. This made weight loss challenging because she craved so many unhealthy foods at the same time and felt overwhelmed.But when she started on her recent successful weight-loss journey, which led to a 210-pound loss, she did it with little changes.“Start out small. Don’t go crazy and cut out every single bad food all at once. Start out by cutting one thing out, like soda or sweets, and then slowly add on to that,” Winchester said.After exercising with a trainer for a month and losing 17 pounds, Lydia Dziubanek decided to introduce lean protein, fruits and vegetables into her diet. She began losing weight quicker, but she also was shocked by how she felt.“Changing my diet brought many surprises, but most significant was the realization of how much better I felt once initial headaches went away from my body breaking free of the sugar cravings. I felt lighter and more energetic,” she told TODAY.When Jordan Kohanim once thought of diets, she thought she had to restrict what she ate. During her 70-pound weight loss, she realized she could add foods and still lose weight.“I added more fruits and veggies,” she said. “Make yourself eat two cups of veggies before you eat that sandwich.”When she added more nutritious foods, she found her cravings for unhealthy foods disappeared.When Amy-Jo Reid first started losing weight, she thought she could only have protein shakes or chicken breast. But then someone gave her some advice and eating became more exciting — and fulfilling.“Someone told me to start looking at food as ‘fuel for my body.’ That was a huge help,” she said. “Mix it up and try new foods. You will be surprised.”Like many people, Dziubanek ate when her moods shifted. It took a while for her to realize that she used food to soothe her emotions….