Like most women on their wedding day, I felt as though I was the most beautiful bride…despite the fact that I didn't reach my weight-loss goal prior to the big day.

During the flurry of wedding planning, I visited bridal boutiques and was shocked to discover that based on my measurements, I had to try on gowns from the plus-sized department.

I quickly began a fad diet and a few months later became ill. My doctor told me that I had developed a kidney stone that could very likely have been caused by the diet I was following. I decided to forgo the diet and concentrate on wedding plans.

Even though my weight wasn't where I wanted it to be on the big day, it was a glorious summer wedding nonetheless, and I couldn't have been happier.

As autumn quickly approached, and I settled into marital bliss, I decided it was time to revisit my goals and take off those extra pounds. I wanted to do this not only for me, but also for the family my husband and I planned to have.

I work as a psychologist at a middle school, and when a coworker proposed a weight-loss competition for the staff, I jumped onboard. I knew the friendly wager was the exact shove I needed to start shedding pounds.

Like the TV show, "The Biggest Loser," each participant was matched with a friend. Everyone weighed in with his or her partner weekly, and after 3 months the pair who lost the most pounds and percentage of weight won a monetary award.

I was motivated to win that prize, but knew the pounds weren't going to simply melt off. I recalled having some success in the past using food journals to track what I ate and count calories. By logging my food intake, I became much more aware of what I ate every day as well as the portion sizes.

I combined journaling with meal planning and drinking eight glasses of water daily. I also started walking 15 minutes a day, and it was much easier than I imagined. Eventually, I worked my way up to a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio activity every day in addition to strength training exercises three times a week.

My attitude, however, was the most challenging obstacle I faced. You see, I am a perfectionist by nature, and because of this, I quickly became disappointed in myself when I overindulged or skipped a workout. Instead of pushing myself harder the next time, my self-criticism would set me back, and I would ignore my goals for days.

Eventually, I realized that one of the most important factors in weight loss is consistency. It dawned on me that when I strayed too far from the path, I undid several weeks of weight-loss success. I quickly learned that humans make mistakes, and that I needed to let them go in order to move forward.

I began following an 80-20 rule. By this I mean that I ate healthy 80% of the time and indulged the remaining 20% of the time. This truly helped me as I became less flustered and found it easier to stick to my goals. I found that maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle isn't as challenging when you treat yourself occasionally, hold yourself accountable and forgive yourself for any mishaps that might occur.

Since I work in a school where tempting snacks, such as birthday cakes, muffins and other sweets, make regular appearances, I began taking healthy snacks to work. Low-fat string cheese, light yogurt, apples and bananas helped me avoid all of those enticing treats found in the teachers lounge. I also began eating every 3 to 4 hours in order to control my hunger and curb any cravings.

Whenever I felt like giving up, I reminded myself of the reasons I wanted to trim down in the first place. Besides needing a healthy body to carry a child, I also wanted to be able to teach my family how to stay healthy.

I was determined to gain the skills and confidence I needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle before my husband and I had children and started our own family. And the best way to do that was to lose the weight and understand what it takes to eat right and live well.

Three months later the contest came to an end, and my partner and I were announced the winners…we lost the most weight! I was 50 pounds lighter and I was thrilled to win the award. I realized, however, that my greatest prize was gaining the skills I needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle for myself.

Currently, I am down 60 pounds, and I couldn't feel better. While my journey began as a plus-sized bride, today I am a happy, healthy wife, ready for anything that comes my way.


The Secrets to My Success

While on my weight-loss journey, I relied on a few secrets that helped me shed pounds and stay motivated.

  • Plan, Plan, Plan. Every weekend, my husband and I plan our meals for the upcoming week and then do our shopping. All of the recipes from the Comfort Food Diet Cookbook have been a huge help!
  • Check In or Check Out. Don't be afraid of the scale. Weekly weigh-ins are great. Losing 5 pounds gained over the holidays is significantly easier than losing 25 pounds gained carelessly by not keeping track of your weight.
  • Do Some Surfing. The Web is a great place for information and interactive tools on weight-loss. If you have plans to go out to dinner, you can even check the menu online and plan your order in advance.
  • Downsize Dinnerware. In order to keep myself from feeling deprived, I ate dinners off salad plates. This made me feel as though the portions were larger, and I felt fuller quickly.
  • Treat Yourself. I love desserts, so eliminating them from my diet was not realistic. Instead, I found low-calorie alternatives and allowed myself indulgences.
  • Stir It Up. Mixing up my exercise routine is motivating and keeps my body in fat-burning mode. My exercise routine includes hiking, biking, jogging, using an elliptical trainer and following a few exercise DVDs.


Jumpstart Your Weight-Loss with More Tips from Christy

  • Set a streak. Set mini-goals and commit to engaging in these activities every day. Promise yourself you'll drink eight glasses of water or work out for 15 minutes. After a few weeks, these mini-goals will become habits intrinsic to your daily routine.
  • Reward yourself! Give yourself small rewards along the way for achieving your mini-goals. For example, I rewarded myself with a new bottle of bubble bath after one week of exercising every day, and I bought myself a new iPod Nano after completing the entire 3-month workout program.
  • Buy a food scale. Being aware of portion sizes and measuring my portions using measuring cups and food scales has been a huge factor in helping me reach my goals.
  • Inspire yourself! Make a vision collage that reflects your personal weight-loss goals as well as your reasons for getting healthy. Fill it with inspiring quotes and photos. My collage includes the words "TRIATHLON," a photo of a baby to remind myself of the healthy lifestyle my husband and I want to create for our family and a photo of my husband, who is one of my greatest supporters!
  • Enjoy the ride: While losing weight, I enjoyed finding lightened up recipes online and in cookbooks and magazines. I now subscribe to Taste of Home Healthy Cooking magazine to keep me inspired to create low-calories meals at home.
  • Thank you, ma'am. Learn to accept compliments graciously. Family and friends are bound to notice your weight-loss. Thank them and relish your time in the limelight.


Christy's Favorite Taste of Home Comfort Food Diet Recipes!

Here's a few of my all-time favorite dishes from the first edition of the Comfort Food Diet Cookbook:

Fudgy Chocolate Dessert

Special Brunch Bake»

Pumpkin Pancakes»

Spicy Buffalo Chicken Wraps»

Fudgy Chocolate Dessert»