Inspired by the popular TV series “The Biggest Loser” and staying accountable to her Facebook friends has helped Dana1956 lose 40lbs.  With ten pounds to go, she doesn’t plan on stopping what she’s doing anytime soon.

1. What made you decide to lose weight this time?  There were many things that were going on in my head about losing weight. I have always taken after my grandmother, and I loved her dearly, but I kept seeing her in my mirror more and more. I was having problems with aching knees because I am on my feet a lot, and I just didn’t like that I had to keep getting bigger and bigger clothes.

A Facebook friend kept posting that The Biggest Loser was going to be on and he encouraged everyone to watch it. I had never seen it before so my first episode was in January 2010. My husband watched it with me. We saw people who were much bigger than we were doing things that we could not do. I was ashamed. I decided that night that only I could change the way I was. The next day was the beginning of my new life.

2. What other “diets” (programs, products, plans, or services) had you tried in the past?  I had been on all kinds of things. Got the books to prove it! Atkins, South Beach, the DASH diet. A long time ago I even belonged to TOPS and lost some weight, but after a while I’d lose my motivation and slack off.

3. What changes did you make to your usual diet, activity, lifestyle, and attitude?  The most important change was getting off the couch and moving. I had gotten an exercise bike from my brother as a graduation gift from barber school. I used it for a while, but never managed to get past program #1. I reasoned that if the contestants of Biggest Loser could pedal a marathon, that I could get on the bike and do it too. I did about half of one, but it showed me just how out of shape that I was.

However, for a few months most of my lifestyle change involved getting up earlier in the morning and mastering the programs on that exercise bike. Then in May a friend of mine had a really good treadmill for sale and we were able to buy it for a great price. It has been used every day since by either myself or my husband.

4. How did Calorie Count help you to lose weight?  On one of the Biggest Loser episodes there was a guest there who said that the most successful losers were the ones who counted their calories. Up to that point I had been trying to watch what I was eating, but not counting. So I went on to a search engine and typed in “calorie count program”. Calorie Count came up as one of them so I explored it. First of all, it was free! And I found all kinds of information on there that has helped me make decisions on what to eat either at home, or in restaurants. I like the weight progress charts. I like that I can post things on Facebook for my friends to see, and I have asked them to hold me accountable. Calorie Count is an amazing site and I am still finding things on it that I didn’t know were there.

5. What was most challenging about losing weight?  So far, the most challenging thing for me has been trying to lose this last 10 pounds. We are also in the holiday season where I am eating different things at other people’s homes then I would normally not eat.

It is hard to keep track of the calories when other people cook things and you don’t know what the ingredients are. I just have to be careful to eat these things in moderation.

6. How long did it take you to see results?  I probably started seeing the results of my weight loss in the first 20 lbs. I was wearing size 16 in jeans and they started getting baggy on me. People were beginning to make comments that I was looking thinner.

7. When did you realize that you were a success?  There has been several “successes” in this journey. Many of them came in the way of compliments from friends and customers at the barber shop. I have posted things on Facebook, and several of my friends have said that I had inspired them. I hope I have, as I know this is possible and I want to see them succeed. I had a few personal successes as well. For the first time in my life I can say that I am a runner. I ran in 2 5K’s this year and came in 3rd place in my age group in both of them. I’m looking forward to running in a few next year and beating my personal records. Just competing was big for me!

8. How do you prevent relapse?  I try not to get discouraged. I have gone from a size 16 to a 12. I have gotten rid of my fat clothes. I look in the mirror and I see a new person who is thinner than I can ever remember being. I tell myself, “It took a lot of time, and a lot of work to get where you are today, and you can’t go back there”. I like who I am, and I like hearing people tell me how good I look. I don’t mean it in a vain way. It’s been work, but it has been worth every drop of sweat.

9. How has your life changed now that you’ve lost weight?  I feel great! I used to suffer from sinus headaches that would destroy me, especially through seasonal changes. The exercise has helped that tremendously. My knees don’t ache any more from carrying around that extra weight. I feel more positive about things in general. I don’t have a problem telling people that I am 54 years old and that I am running in 5K’s. I want them to see that it doesn’t matter how old they are, they can make a change in their life too.

10. What five tips do you have for other dieters?

  • Read the Success Stories and read things that inspire you. Talk to people who inspire you. Did you know that an 84 year old woman ran in the New York Marathon this year for the 23rd time in a row? That is inspiring!
  • Getting your life back is a commitment.  You are the one who gained weight, and only you can lose it.  Depending on others to support you, push you, tell you what to eat is only going to last so long.  It’s you who has to take responsibility for yourself.
  • Making a time to work out is as important as making time to sleep, going to work or any other life choice.  I love to sleep in but I had to make a firm decision to get up earlier to work out for 30 to 45 minutes a day.  I can’t work out in the evening because I don’t get out of work until later so mornings work for me.  And the benefit of working out first thing in the morning makes me feel good the rest of the day.
  • Count your calories.  Make it an important part of your day to sit down with Calorie Count and log everything you eat.  It teaches you amounts that you need if you are eating too many carbs, not enough protein.  It helps you to maintain a healthy balance of what you eat.  As they said on  The Biggest Loser, a person who counts their calories has better success in weight loss.
  • Find something that keeps you motivated.  Who would have thought that I would ever run?   In a 5K no less?  Give yourself goals to work towards.  For me, it’s getting that run t-shirt.  It can be getting a new dress.  How about the comments that you are going to hear from others about how great you look.  You are going to find that your life has changed, and hopefully you will be able to motivate others.   Nothing is impossible… including weight loss.  No matter how old you are, what kind of shape you are in – you can do it if you set your mind to it.