Sometimes the hardest part of the journey to any aim is keeping motivated. Whether you’re trying to get fitter, gunning for a promotion, or on a mission to finally quit using your floor for a closet, staying on course can be tough. When the goal line is appearing fuzzy in the distance, it can be super inspiring to revel in other people’s successes and be reminded that, yes, like them, you can accomplish this.
Here at SELF, we love to celebrate the successes of women who have opted to place their health and happiness first. Here we have gathered together some of our favorite stories from the last year showing how women, armed with determination, self-love, and motivating communities, set, reached, and often exceeded their goals to lead healthier, fitter, more satisfying lives. In such cases, weight loss was the intention, but by devoting themselves to healthy habits every girl got so much more than that. Because that’s the thing: Weight loss is not just about hitting a certain number on the scale.
As these women demonstrate, losing weight takes a whole lot of work, including eating and exercising in a way that works for your body, handling life’s stressors, engaging in healthy habits such as getting enough sleep and keeping a reality check on what is sustainable and what is not.
And an important note before we get into it: Healthy habits are for everybody –but weight loss is not. In case you have a history of disordered eating, you should talk to your doctor before going after any weight loss targets. Sometimes the healthiest habits you can adopt are not to think about your weight in any respect. It’s different for everybody and deeply personal.
Even if your goals have nothing to do with weight at all, seeing what people can accomplish when they set their minds to it can be a powerful boost if ever you feel your motivation. Let the stories of these 12 total strangers motivate you to move toward that thing which will make you feel happy, healthy, and fulfilled.
Kassidy Linde was inspirational to shed 100 pounds after having her daughter.
New mother Kassidy Linde, 25, felt tired, unhealthy, and uncomfortable in her own skin, so she turned into a sustainable weight loss regimen. She’s beginning to see nutritious eating as a lifelong habit, and she introduced weekly cardio workouts. Within a year and a half, she lost 130 pounds. She’s now far stronger and confident, and she’s got more energy to play with her daughter.
Lobke Meulemeester lost 72 lbs with the help of Instagram.
Lobke Meulemeester, 35, shared pics of her healthy meals on Instagram, and she also posted screenshots of her FitBit stats as she amped up her fitness routine. The encouragement she received from her followers–all 87,000 of them–kept her motivated through it all.
Amber Johnson lost more than 40 pounds by doing the Whole30 program and working out.
Amber Johnson, 21, gained 30 pounds after her wedding, leaving her feeling uneasy. So she switched things up: She started doing the Whole30 program, and she started a consistent at-home fitness routine. She lost 30 pounds in seven weeks, leaving her feeling more comfortable and confident.
Pasquale “Pat” Brocco lost 200 pounds by amping up his daily steps.
Pasquale “Pat” Brocco, 31, lost weight literally one step at a time. He threw his unhealthy eating habits and committed to walking to Walmart every time he wanted a meal. Soon, he had been walking six miles each day. Then he added incline walks on the treadmill and weightlifting to his exercise regimen. His new pattern helped him drop from 605 pounds to below 300 pounds in three decades.
Helen Woldemichael lost 45 pounds by making workouts a regular part of her life.
Helen Woldemichael tried different quick-fix workout programs and diets to no avail. What finally helped her shed a few pounds: Adopting healthy, sustainable habits, like getting outdoors and cooking for herself more. She started making trips to the gym a normal part of her week and committed to consistency.
Amanda Kurtz lost 30 pounds with the help of weight-loss surgery.
Amanda Kurtz, 29, struggled with her weight for most of her adult life, even after making major lifestyle changes. So Kurtz chose to experience weight-loss surgery, getting a vertical sleeve gastrectomy in May. The significant surgery was anything but easy, and Kurtz had to re-learn how to eat after the procedure. But she is stuck with a healthy diet and a new exercise routine.
Kathryn Dickie lost 40 pounds by hitting the gym and cutting back on excess sugar.
A couple of simple modifications helped Kathryn Dickie accomplishes her weight-loss goal: She started walking home from work each day, exercising with a private trainer, monitoring her carbohydrate intake, and cutting out the excess sugar she used to add to her everyday cup of tea. She stuck with her new habits, and her hard work paid off.
Haley Smith lost 110 pounds by cutting out late -night snacks and cooking for herself more
The bride-to-be changed her eating habits for the better, and she began working out three times a week. A year and a half later, by her wedding date, Smith had lost 110 lbs.
Rebecca Grafton lost 100 pounds after she learned to love running.
Blogger Rebecca Grafton, 26, absolutely hated running, but she adopted the workout for a way to shape up prior to a holiday in Jamaica. She started running three times per week, increasing her length on the treadmill because her stamina increased. And she combined her workouts with a healthy, balanced diet, also. Grafton stuck with her healthy habits long after her Jamaican vacation, and in two years she lost 100 lbs.
In 2011, Katye Hennick started feeling insecure about her size. She decided to take her weight-loss aims seriously and dedicated to working out six days per week (first thing in the morning!), drinking more water, and eating smaller, more regular balanced meals. In five years she lost 90 pounds, and she’s fitter, happier, and stronger than ever.
Kerry Swift lost 84 pounds by using Instagram as a food diary.
Kerry Swift, 27, began taking pictures of the healthy, balanced meals she was eating, and she shared the pictures with her thousands of followers. The”public” food diary kept Swift committed to a healthy diet, and she lost 84 pounds in 19 months.
Lauren Hayden shed the Freshman 15 by being more aware of her eating ans exercise habits
Lauren Haden, 22, made a few small, strong changes to shed the Freshman 15: Exercise became a regular part of her life, she started making conscious choices about what she ate, and she focused on building a healthy support system. From the time she graduated from school, Haden had lost 36 pounds.