If you're a DailyWorth reader, you've probably got at least one money-related resolution on your list this year. Kudos to you! Now come the hard part: sticking to it. Only 8 percent of Americans who make resolutions actually stick with them, according to statistics from the University of Scranton.
In 2013, I was one of them, accomplishing my goal (and the No. 1 most popular New Year's resolution in the U.S) of losing weight. I lost my last 60 pounds (of 130!), and in the process, learned to trust my gut on my own health, career and happiness. I stopped listening when people told me what I should or shouldn’t eat, especially if it was to indulge more often. I knew the only way I would lose weight is by staying disciplined, which is exactly what the eight women profiled here learned as they strived to achieve major health goals.
Collectively, they lost more than 500 pounds and enjoyed several side benefits as well, from overcoming depression to cutting the risk of a heart attack by half. Even if you don't need to slim down, their stories and strategies should inspire and motivate you to pursue whatever goals you have for the year ahead.
Kristin Booker, 42, New York, NY, Lost 80 Pounds
Goal achieved: Kristin Booker dropped 80 pounds of excess weight and overcame severe depression.
Her motivation to make a change: In 2008, Booker’s doctor told her that if she was lucky, it’d be five years before she had a stroke. And if a stroke didn’t happen, he said the other option was a heart attack. The prognosis wasn’t just about her weight — she had a lengthy history of family members dying young from heart disease. (Her grandmother and uncle died from heart disease at 48 and 42.) Knowing she wanted more out of life than just five more years, Booker got serious about dropping 100 pounds.
How she accomplished her goal: In 2011, she started to look at food differently and eliminated one vice at a time, starting with high-fructose corn syrup. Next up: alcohol. Then white flour and sugar. Working out, however, proved tougher for her than making food changes due to prior injuries. She called her friend Fred DeVito, who co-owns and teaches at Exhale Spa in New York, who encouraged her to return to exercise classes at the gym. Core fusion barre classes helped her shed pounds while focusing on her form to avoid irritating old injuries or cause new ones.
Booker’s resolution for 2014? To lose the last 20 of 100 pounds. Her doctor is thrilled and says her chances for a heart attack or stroke were cut in half.
Her life lesson: “Be kind to yourself. You will get frustrated, and you may gain some of the weight back. But if you continue to value yourself and your own body, you’ll accomplish your goals,” Booker says.
Photo courtesy of: giafrese
Kati Ianello, 34, Flagstaff, Arizona, Ran a Half Marathon
Goal achieved: Kati Ianello trained for and ran a half marathon in August 2013.
Her motivation: After losing 100 pounds between 2010 and 2012, Ianello sought a new challenge that would keep her motivated to stay healthy.
How she accomplished her goal: She started by downloading the smartphone app, Couch to 5K, which outlines a nine-week running program for beginners. During the first week of the program, she alternated walking and running for one-minute spurts three times per week. At first it was hard, but then she started to enjoy the private time away from the responsibilities of being a mom of three kids. After she finished the program, she thought, why not keep going and run a half marathon?
She ran by herself and slowly built up her mileage. She didn’t have a time goal. Her goal was purely to complete the half marathon. And though Ianello’s knee almost gave out at mile nine, she was determined to finish the race and achieve her goal. She thought, “They’re not pulling me off this course.” And finish, she did.
She plans on completing another marathon, and now follows her chiropractor’s advice to stretch immediately after every workout to relieve soreness.
Her life lesson: Always have a new goal to strive for, but remember to take care of your body, too. Don’t go overboard, and always stretch.
Michelle Wojciechowski, 45, Baltimore, Maryland, Lost Weight to Stop Taking Medication
Goal achieved: Michelle Wojciechowski lost 22 pounds and got off her triglycerides-lowering medications.
Her motivation: After a routine checkup, Wojciechowski’s doctor prescribed medication to reduce her triglycerides. But she didn’t want to be on pills for life. In order to stop taking them, Wojciechowski’s doctor told her that she had to lose weight or the three-month prescription she gave her would turn into a life-long responsibility.
How she accomplished her goal: Wojciechowski thought if she could lose five or 10 pounds, her triglyceride numbers would drop. So she jumped to action by modifying her diet to exclude many processed foods. Her plan worked: Three months later, after she lost the weight the doctor requested and was given the good news that she was able to stop taking the pills.
Wojciechowski knew that nutrition alone wasn’t going to cut it if she wanted to keep her triglycerides under control for the long haul. She worked with a trainer for three months who helped her with routines combining balance, core work and cardio. Now, she can touch her toes, squat correctly and bend over to pick things pick things up without experiencing leg pain. Her total loss by her December 2013 doctor’s visit was 22 pounds. She’s continued to keep up her exercising routines, and has been focusing on ways to have fun with it, too.
Her life lesson: Wojciechowski says she’s never going to become a triathlon competitor, but she can ride a recumbent bike and play dancing video games. Moderation is key: Wojciechowski learned that the journey to improving your health isn’t an all-or-nothing path. You can still eat a cookie every once in a while without guilt!
Mary Geerlof, Bronxville, New York, Dropped Two Sizes Before Her Wedding
Goal achieved: Mary Geerlof lost enough weight to fit into the designer weddress dress she bought that was two sizes too small when she purchased it just a few months before her wedding.
Her motivation: Her bridesmaids didn’t approve of her throwing down thousands of dollars for a too-small wedding dress, but Geerlof knew looking beautiful on the day she married the love of her life was all the motivation she needed to drop 20 pounds.
How she accomplished her goal: At first, weight loss was slow when trying to stick to low-calorie diet, Realizing she needed more structure, Geerlof tried the Atkins Diet. To stay energized while eating a low-carb diet, Geerlof carefully studied the nutritional content of every morsel in a way she never had, and was able to eat enough nutrients to give her body the fuel it needed to get in shape without feeling sluggish (now she can rattle off the fiber counts in cumin or thyme without a second’s pause).
She also bumped up her workout schedule. She credits her new body to spin classes and jack-knife crunches, a special kind of abdominal exercise that works the upper and lower abs by raising both arms and legs while sitting up. By the time the final dress fitting came around, she actually needed to tailor the waist in by two inches.
Her life lesson: Geerlof still makes sure she eats enough veggies, limits complex carbs such as pasta and works out several times per week to maintain her weight. She also keeps a NutriBullet in her kitchen to grind up fresh juices every morning. Today her motivation is to live a healthy, happy life.
Katy Crumpton, 31, Abilene, Texas, Lost 50 Pounds
Goal achieved: Katy Crumpton lost 50 pounds in 11 months and inspired her husband Philip to do the same.
Her motivation: Crumpton met Kelli Calabrese, a personal trainer and nutrition coach, at a Christmas party. She heard a lot of wonderful things about clients losing over 20 pounds and thought Calabrese might be able to help her figure out why, despite running more than 20 miles per week, she was only able to lose five pounds in a year.
How she accomplished her goal: It turned out that nutrition was holding Crumpton back. She ate organic foods but wasn’t balancing protein, carbohydrates and fats in a way that promoted weight loss and good health. Both Crumpton and her husband committed to a structured meal plan that involved Isagenix shakes and one meal a day. Now, both Crumpton and her husband have the shakes once per day and eat balanced meals such as fish, veggies and quinoa for the other two meals. Crumpton still wants to lose another 15 pounds, but she’s focusing on fat loss instead of just weight this time. Philip is focusing on maintenance and building muscle.
Her life lesson: Eating organically itself doesn’t promote weight loss or indicate good nutrition. To continue to improve and then maintain her new body, she looks at each food she eats for both how it makes her feel and the nutrition it provides.
Ally Bonoit, 34, Dallas, Texas, Lost 70 Pounds and Ran a Sub-Eight-Minute Mile
Goal achieved: Ally Bonoit lost 70 pounds in 27 weeks and can run a mile in under eight minutes.
Her motivation to make a change: After gaining about 90 pounds during each of her two pregnancies — and nearly dying of congestive heart failure during both childbirths without her doctors understanding why — Bonoit knew she had to change something about her health quickly if she was going to ever have a third child.
How she accomplished her goal: A former professional soccer player in Germany, Bonoit was no stranger to hard work. Though she was able to lose some weight on her own, the amount of weight she had left to lose felt too overwhelming to handle by herself. She sought help.
She wanted to train like an athlete again, so she hired Jay Johnson, a retired Army drill sergeant and the head trainer for the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, to work with her twice a week. She performs workouts that include interval training, running, squats, pushups and ab exercises. She sprints on a track and wants to eventually achieve her next goal of running a mile in 6.5 minutes. Nutritionally, she’s on a Paleo diet where she avoids processed foods. Her hard work paid off. In 22 weeks working out with Jay, she lost about 40 pounds to complete the 70 pounds she’s lost overall.
Her life lesson: She’ll never give up on herself again. If she and her husband decide to have another baby, she’ll have a cardiologist monitoring her beforehand and throughout the pregnancy.
Dashama, 32, Miami Beach, Florida, Relieved Neck Pain Through Yoga
Goal achieved: Personal trainer Dashama was able to relieve neck pain while progressing toward her ultimate goal of realigning her spine.
Her motivation to make a change: One of Dashama’s personal training clients, a chiropractor, gave her a free X-ray to see why she was experiencing neck pain. The result: Dashama discovered that three vertebrates were out of place in her spine, likely the result of three separate car accidents from high school. She worked with the chiropractor twice a week for 18 months with little success. Feeling the need to try something new, Dashama went to a yoga workshop with Anna Fuller, a creative yoga teacher, where she learned she may be able to realign her spine through consistent yoga practice.
How she accomplished her goal: She got her yoga teacher certification and began to practice and teach yoga with an emphasis on form. Many of her own private personal training clients also switched to yoga instead of traditional exercises because of her suggestions. Today, Dashama doesn’t do strength training outside of yoga, and her only form of consistent exercise outside of yoga now is cardio. She also utilized massage therapy to recover from her spinal and muscle injuries. She now is certified to teach Thai massage.
Her life lesson: “Don’t ever let you let anyone tell you don’t know your own mind or body,” Dashama says. Chiropractic treatment didn’t help her as much as taking control of her own body and exploring alternatives.
Tara Young, 46, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Lost 100 Pounds and Gained Self-Worth
Goal achieved: Tara Young lost 100 pounds over several years and rediscovered her self-worth.
Her motivation to make a change: For more than 20 years, Young devoted herself to her husband and her now-grown sons. Though she’s a vegetarian, Young would cook meat for the family and then eat only the side items. When their dinners consisted of hamburgers and fries, Young’s meal would consist of just the fries.
Young struggled with a real lack of self-esteem, which only continued to plummet. She would rarely go outside because she felt too ugly for anyone to look at. But fortunately, a few years ago, when a friend begged her to go to yoga class for exercise and to get out of the house, Young agreed. There, she was inspired by the yoga teacher who gave her permission to focus on herself for a while. She finally took time to think about what she wanted for herself and not just what her family needed.
How she accomplished her goal: She continued studying yoga for both body change and introspection. She learned at one of Dashama’s retreats about healthy eating as a lacto-ovo vegetarian (someone who doesn’t eat meat or fish but does have dairy and eggs). She started to look toward quinoa, eggs and chia seeds for protein.
Yoga continued to empower her and give her mental and physical strength. Enjoying a new sense of life balance that she wants to share with others, Young’s new goal is to one day put on her own yoga retreats. She is also striving to rebuild and strengthen the strained relationship she has with her eldest son as a result of her recent divorce.
Her life lesson: “Happiness is not found in chips and Oreos. It’s found in self-respect and striving toward and achieving goals.”