Weight Loss: What Works for Me

Key points

  • For many people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, weight loss is part of their treatment plan.
  • People respond differently to eating plans.
  • Experiment to find the best combination of food and activity that works for you.
woman high fiving an exercise partner

Set yourself up for success

If you're like many people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, weight loss is part of your treatment plan. It sounds so simple: eat less and move more. But if weight loss were that easy, millions of people wouldn't be struggling right now to do it. And you've probably noticed that even people who take the weight off have a hard time keeping it off.

More and more studies show that people respond differently to diets. For example, some lose weight on low carb; some gain weight. The same goes for other plans.

So how do you find your secret sauce for weight loss? Make sure to focus on healthy, nutritious food. Then experiment with eating, activity, and setting goals until you find a method that works for you. Here are a few success stories to get you started.

Brooke's story

"Life is an adventure, and I want to be ready for it."

Brooke is very active but has always struggled with her weight. Each time she tried to lose the extra pounds it got harder. But this time something clicked.

It was all about timing. Her youngest child had left for college, so she had more time to focus on her own goals. And she had just hit an important milestone: turning 50. "I figured at this point in life, getting in shape is only going to get harder," she said.

Having a clear goal helped. She didn't want to miss out on a long bike ride or hike because she wasn't fit enough. To jump-start her weight loss, she cut out all sugar and most carbs. She lost 15 pounds quickly, but the diet wasn't sustainable.

She then went on a commercial diet plan that provided portioned meals and snacks. "I liked all my meals being measured for me," she said. "It gave me permission to relax about food."

To support her weight loss and get fitter, Brooke stepped up her activity. She went to the gym, rode regularly with a biking group, hiked, and took the stairs instead of the elevator at work.

One of Brooke's biggest challenges was visiting her parents' house. "Food is everywhere all the time, on countertops, in cabinets, in the freezer. Even the second refrigerator is full." But Brooke knew her triggers. "I'm an all-or-nothing kind of person. As long as I didn't touch any of it, I was OK." For meals together, she brought her own prepared food.

Two years later, Brooke has reached her 50-pound weight loss goal. She knows she can keep up her healthy habits for life. It doesn't hurt that people who haven't seen her for a while say, "You look great!"

What's ahead for Brooke? A whole bucket list of places to go and mountains to climb. She's fit for adventure!

Nadia's story

"My doctor said something I never want to hear again."

Nadia has been on many different diets and has lost weight, but she always gained it back. "I have a shelf full of weight loss books," she said. "They make really good paperweights."

She was concerned about her health. She had sleep apnea, and type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke run in her family. But she had given up trying to shed the pounds. Then came a wake-up call during a checkup with her doctor.

"He started a sentence with 'At your size . . . .' That's when it really hit home that I needed to do something about my weight," Nadia remembers. "It wasn't a good moment, but looking back I'm grateful."

This time instead of trying a specific diet, Nadia focused on healthy eating and activity that fit into her life. She ate home-cooked food, like grilled chicken and veggies, in smaller portions and began to walk every day. She applied what she had learned over the years about dieting to her own needs, and the weight started coming off. "None of this is new, but it's working for me now," she said. Some of Nadia's tried-and-true tips:

  • Walk longer if you're going to a party to make up for anything unhealthy you may eat.
  • Stay away from dinner salads when you're eating out; the calories are surprisingly high.
  • Check the restaurant menu and plan your meal ahead of time.
  • Take half of your meal home.
  • Eat slowly. It takes 20 minutes or more for your brain to know you've had enough.
  • Drink water if you think you're hungry. You may just be thirsty.
  • Eat some protein at every meal and try to include fruits and veggies.
  • Write down everything you eat and drink. It keeps you accountable to yourself!

Physical activity makes Nadia feel great. She actually looks forward to it, getting up extra early to walk before work. "There's always time to watch TV. You have to carve out time to be active," she said.

Nadia still has a few pounds to lose, but the weight she has lost so far has stayed off for 2 years. The closer she gets to her goal, the slower the numbers on the scale go down, but that's OK. Her cholesterol and blood sugar levels have improved, and her sleep apnea? Gone. And there's the added benefit that now she can wear anything she wants.

This tip from Nadia may be the most helpful of all: "If you regain weight, just start over. There's nothing you can't undo."

Daniel's story

"Let's get in shape together."

Between working and raising a family, Daniel couldn't find the time to exercise and fix healthy meals. By his mid-40s, he had gained 40 pounds. With the weight came high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and loss of energy. He knew being overweight raised his risk for other health problems, like type 2 diabetes. He decided to take action.

Daniel's first move was taking the stairs at work to get more fit. He was surprised how quickly his blood pressure came down. But after seeing a photo of himself on Facebook, he decided he needed to lose the weight too. He downloaded an app on his phone and started tracking food and calories. He quickly discovered he was eating more calories at a single meal than he should in an entire day.

Daniel started a Facebook group called "Let's get in shape together." He invited friends who were having similar weight and exercise challenges, as well as those who were successful. He then made a list of obstacles and how he planned to face them.

One trigger was fried food. Daniel had to find a way to quiet the inner voice that whispered "fried chicken." He posted a contract on the group page, committing to change.

He began an eating plan based on lean protein, beans and other legumes, and veggies. He could eat unlimited quantities of some veggies, including broccoli, asparagus, and cauliflower. The plan also called for zero-calorie drinks only, water preferred. There was a cheat day each week when Daniel could eat anything he wanted. It was easy for him to fit the plan into his life, and most importantly it worked.

After he began losing weight, Daniel started getting even more active, working out at the gym and running. The exercise made him feel terrific. All along, he continued to post his progress on the Facebook group page. For him, making it public made the difference.

"The tools are out there," he said. "We just need to find what works for us. For me, it was dealing with one challenge at a time. Change isn't easy. But when you can count on family and friends for support, online and off, it can be done."