Real Simpleasked women to share the ways that dropping a dieting mind-set changed their bodies.

By Real Simple
Updated February 09, 2009
Lucy Vigrass

“I lost 58 pounds last year by eating real food. For me, what worked was to moderate my white foods, like sugars and starches, but not deprive myself of the things I enjoy, such as dark meat from chicken or turkey and the occasional piece of cheese. This also works well for my job, as I travel a lot. And when you have to limit yourself to only diet foods, it makes travel and entertaining clients at dinner very difficult. I aim for a 90/10 balance: If 90 percent of the time my eating is right on, it's OK to indulge a little 10 percent of the time. This also makes my family life easier. My husband loves barbecue and steaks, and we can still eat out together, and I have part of his entrée. It’s about a lifestyle of being healthy―not dieting.” ―Naomi Moneypenny-Ammons, 32, Houston, Texas

“I’ve lost 10 pounds since quitting a no-carb diet that I was struggling to stick with. Now, instead of constantly worrying about what I'm eating, I eat what I want in moderation. I had a Happy Meal yesterday instead of the combo meal, for example. I'm originally from Texas, and I love southern food. I realized that how much I eat is more important than starving my body of necessary nutrition.” ―Kristen Kouk, 23, Carlsbad, California

“I find that real foods fill me up faster than diet foods, therefore I eat less. Not too mention that when I eat real foods in moderation I feel satisfied, like I’ve indulged in a treat.”―Christy Oberley, 26, Indianapolis, Indiana

“The thing that has made the biggest difference for me is to eat what's available in moderation and mindfully―no special diet foods. I also use small bites. I may take eight small bites from a single potato chip instead of eating eight potato chips. And when I make a delicious seven-layer cookie desert, I enjoy it for 8 to 10 bites instead of gulping it down in three. I eat everything more slowly, and so I felt satiated and eat less.” ―Susan Tordella, 50, Ayer, Massachusetts

“After struggling with anorexia and then bulimia for 18 years, I was the queen of diets. And then I became the queen of getting my body back to normal. I’ve found that any diet that tells you what to eat doesn’t work. Today I eat whatever I want in moderation, and I have never, ever looked better or been happier.” ―Bridget Livingston, 31, Santa Monica, California

“After having kids, I put on about 40 extra pounds. I tried all kinds of diets. I read anything I could get my hands on regarding nutrition and weight loss, but no weight loss. So a few years ago, when my youngest started school, I was able to stop the food and diet obsession. I shifted my focus off food, and I lost weight. I follow an 80-20 rule, where 80 percent of the time I eat well-balanced meals and exercise. The other 20 percent of the time, I indulge a bit. And if I miss a walk, it’s no big deal. Obsession over! I will never be 120 pounds again, but I do weigh 140-ish, have a super job, and a great family. I also feel great.” ―Susan Toalson, 41, Philo, Illinois

“I lost 40 pounds and have kept most of it off for a year. I just removed fried foods from my diet but kept all my other favorites. I’m a baker. I make cookies, cakes, pies, and brownies, and I like to taste my products. Cutting out sugar and all fat was not an option. Moderation of that type of intake was key for me―and to equalize the bad foods with good foods. I have a light salad and then a chocolate-chip cookie for dessert.” ―Hope Jones, 44, New York, New York

“I love French fries. I've lost 25 pounds and still enjoy them once a month at my favorite French bistro.” ―Susan Harrow, 52, San Rafael, California