One note about this diet plan before we dive in. A personal trainer by profession, Jillian Michaels’ weight-loss plans are not for the fainthearted. She’ll take you on a journey, transform your body, and make you reach the fitness goals you’ve been craving…but it won’t come easy. Go into this plan with the determination and awareness that you’ll be working hard, and the results will really amaze you.
About: Caitlin’s approach to healthy living is three-pronged: mind, spirit and body. She believes that finding true health means finding balance in all three, and her mission with her blog is to take people along the way as she figures that out. She’s a self-taught yogi with a passion for natural, balanced food and fitness — all things she shares exponentially in her blog to help others figure it out too.
If you constantly find that there’s not enough time during the day to squeeze in a workout, it might be time to jumpstart your day with one. Getting exercise in the morning has a variety of perks: You’ll be energized throughout the day, unexpected time commitments won’t jeopardize your fitness plans and you’re more likely to make healthier choices.
The plan promotes long-lasting, sustainable changes, and undoubtedly a bounty of research backs this up. In fact, one December 2013 study in the American Journal of Medicine shows that people following Weight Watchers were close to nine times more likely to lose 10 percent of their body weight, compared to people following a self-help diet plan. (20)
Powell was overweight as a child, eating a diet full of processed foods and little water and vegetables. In college, Powell says she dramatically gained more weight. “I walked into my apartment, stared at my reflection in the mirror and asked, ‘Who is that?’ It was a defining moment for me,” says Powell, 38, who is now a holistic health practitioner and fitness trainer who has founded the company Black Girls Nutrition.
Lifestyle fit: Figure out whether a plan is compatible with your lifestyle before committing. Some meal plans are very simple; others require more work. Think about how much time and planning goes into each weight loss program. Some people find that meal planning and preparation takes up too much time, while others enjoy planning meals and spending time in the kitchen. 
Yes whey: the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that high-protein shakes are a vital part of a weight loss plan, so don’t hold back – especially at breakfast. According to research from the University of Bath, eat 700 calories before 11am and you’ll have better blood sugar levels than those who skipped the most important meal of the day. It’s the best excuse you’ll have of sticking with a morning fry-up and avoiding a costly Starbucks lunch.
Scott Leopold attempted his first diet at 19, when he weighed 438 lbs. He was in college and often drank alcohol and finished the night off with fatty foods such as chicken wings or sweets and chips. “I wouldn’t think twice about eating two whole pizzas,” he tells PEOPLE. After he lost his first 100 lbs., he and his friends “celebrated” at a buffet. 

You have to sign up, and they come at a cost -- some higher than others depending upon the program -- but commercial diet programs offer a lot of tools for the dieter. These may include in-person and online support, smartphone and tablet apps, journaling and record-keeping programs specific to the diet, pre-calculated calorie counts, guides for eating out and plenty of proven recipes for any cooking skill level. They also provide the most support, both in person and online.


I love this study because it examined a realistic lifestyle change rather than just a fad diet. Both groups, after all, were labeled as healthy diets, and they were, because study investigators encouraged eating high-quality, nutritious whole foods, unlimited vegetables, and avoiding flours, sugars, bad fats, and processed foods. Everyone was encouraged to be physically active at a level most Americans are not. And — this is a big one — everyone had access to basic behavioral counseling aimed at reducing emotional eating.

“I felt ashamed of how I had changed from a veteran Army soldier into someone who I wasn’t proud to be,” Root, 35, tells PEOPLE for the 2018 Half Their Size issue. “When I transitioned out of the military, I was pregnant with my son, and that loss of structure meant I was eating what I wanted to with no regard, and being pregnant I just found myself eating a lot more than usual.”
“The weight starting coming off,” she says. “I remember I lost 9 lbs. my first week. After I had lost 100 lbs., I started trying more adventurous exercise. I became fascinated by fitness and seeing what new things I could accomplish with my body. I do things that I never dreamed were possible like running races, lifting heavy weights, and completing a sprint triathlon.”
About: Brian’s struggles with weight are some we can all relate to — the need to get healthy, fit, you name it. But what makes his blog particularly interesting is that his studio apartment doesn’t have a kitchen. That forces Brian to get creative, and all he has to work with is a mini-refrigerator and a Big Boss Rapid Oven. His blog is a way to stay accountable and share recipes that are about as creative as you can get.

If you can keep up motivation and accountability without the assistance of an app or a like-minded community, the book should give you all necessary tools. While we weren’t floored by Mayo’s online offerings, the app does have one cool feature (if you can get it to work): Enable your camera to eyeball the correct size of any food item in comparison to a virtual baseball, hockey puck, set of dice.
The Mayo Clinic Diet is a long-term weight management program created by a team of weight-loss experts at Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic Diet is designed to help you reshape your lifestyle by adopting healthy new habits and breaking unhealthy old ones. The goal is to make simple, pleasurable changes that will result in a healthy weight that you can maintain for the rest of your life.
About: Lisa hails from the United Kingdom — a long way from the U.S., but with a touching story of strength that is impossible to ignore. Lisa suffers from Chronic Fatigue, a debilitating condition that’s slowed her down significantly in life, and one that she’s also managed to fight back from. Lisa started her blog about a year ago as a way to lose weight in the hope that it would help improve her disease — her fight is definitely an inspirational one to follow.

The best diet is the one we can maintain for life and is only one piece of a healthy lifestyle. People should aim to eat high-quality, nutritious whole foods, mostly plants (fruits and veggies), and avoid flours, sugars, trans fats, and processed foods (anything in a box). Everyone should try to be physically active, aiming for about two and a half hours of vigorous activity per week. For many people, a healthy lifestyle also means better stress management, and perhaps even therapy to address emotional issues that can lead to unhealthy eating patterns.
Are you like Old Faithful when it comes to your morning walk or evening jog? Know this: The more you do an activity, the more your body adapts to it, so you burn fewer calories. If you want to light a fire under your metabolism, consider cross-training. For example, if you normally walk, try biking instead. "Since you're not used to working all those different muscles, it's a more intense workout, which can translate into a greater metabolic after-burn because your body is working harder to recover and get oxygen to all your tissues," says Carol Espel, M.S., an exercise physiologist for Equinox Fitness Clubs in New York City.
Studies show that eating breakfast plays a part in successful weight loss — almost 80 percent of people who successfully keep weight off chow down on this meal, according to a study published in Obesity Research. "Your metabolism slows as you sleep, and the process of digesting food revs it up again," explains Heller. Aim for a 300- to 400-calorie breakfast, such as a high-fiber cereal (another metabolism booster) with skim milk and fruit.

About: Brian’s struggles with weight are some we can all relate to — the need to get healthy, fit, you name it. But what makes his blog particularly interesting is that his studio apartment doesn’t have a kitchen. That forces Brian to get creative, and all he has to work with is a mini-refrigerator and a Big Boss Rapid Oven. His blog is a way to stay accountable and share recipes that are about as creative as you can get.

Known as the carb-hating diet, the South Beach diet is a weight-loss food plan centered around low-carbohydrate meals. It’s important to note that the South Beach Diet doesn’t forbid carbohydrates, unlike many fad diets out there, instead, this healthy weight-loss system understands the intrinsic benefits of healthy carbs and builds them into your meal plans to maximize those strengths for optimal health and weight loss.
Consider a weight loss program’s overall approach to food. What will you be eating every day? Does the meal plan react poorly with your food allergies or intolerances? Does the program cater to your special dietary needs, for example, if you are vegan or diabetic? If most (or even some) of the foods are not enjoyable to you, within your budget or readily available, you're going to find that plan tough to stick with.
About: Loretta’s certainly no stranger to blogging — she been sharing her weight loss journey since 2009. But the thing that caught our eye most about Loretta’s blog is that unlike most long-time healthy living/weight loss bloggers, her website’s not chock full of product reviews and recommendations, links to goods, etc. It’s very authentic, as is Loretta. Loretta started at 460 pounds. Now, she hovers around 199. And she does it “one good choice at a time.” Her style of writing is engaging and real — the kind of blog that you read and finish thinking, I really know this woman in a deep way. Bravo.

Getting up early for an a.m. workout is always tough, especially as you slog through getting dressed before the sun rises. Leaving your sneakers out within view of your bed will make it easier to get out of bed, and remind you of why you’re waking up early in the first place. Plus, setting out your entire workout ensemble will cut down on getting ready time, so you can get dressed and leave the house before you have time to change your mind.

About: Christie literally just got going (her first post was in March). But she didn’t waste any time putting it all out there. Her goal is to lose more than 100 pounds and beat a lifelong struggle with depression and anxiety. Her openness caught our attention immediately, and we can’t wait to follow along with her as she takes each and every step.
I think we can all relate to this feeling, because, let’s face it—losing weight is hard AF. It takes a lot more than just a spurt of motivation and a trip to the produce section at the grocery store to really see lasting results. And thankfully for us, the internet has helped us all obtain the information we need to lose weight by the simple click of a button.
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