It’s a familiar story: You pledge to honor a daily elliptical routine and count every last calorie. But soon, you’re eating cupcakes at the office and grabbing happy hour mojitos, thinking, Oops, diet over.
There is a better way: Swap the all-or-nothing approach for one or two healthy switch-ups in your daily routine. “Doing this can lead to more weight loss than you ever imagined,” says Marissa Lippert, RD, author of The Cheater’s Diet.
In fact, we talked to readers who knocked off 10, 25, even 60 pounds with some easy tweaks. Borrow their slim-down secrets to transform your body the real-world way.
Swap your go-to order
“I used to eat out at restaurants up to nine times a week! By cutting back to just once a week and ordering a grilled chicken salad instead of a large bowl of pasta, I’ve lost 20 pounds in one month.” —Kerri Butler, Joplin, MO
Skip the salty aisle
“I reached my goal weight after I stopped routinely buying snacks at the grocery store. If I wanted a bag of chips or a candy bar, I had to walk to the store to get it. That inconvenience usually made me ignore my cravings.” —Heather Del Baso, Worcester, MA
Have a 300-calorie breakfast
“I used to skip breakfast, but now I never go without. I always eat about 300 calories of a healthy mix of protein and whole grains. My go-to meal: a sandwich with natural peanut butter and apple butter. It keeps my hunger down so I snack less throughout the day. In a little over a year, I’ve shed 65 pounds.” —Bo Hale, Tulsa, OK
Get fit in five
“I try to fit in small bouts of exercise whenever possible, like doing jumping jacks or crunches during television commercials or dancing while washing dishes. This burns extra calories and keeps me from mindlessly munching in front of the TV. Now my clothes fit way better, and I’m more toned than ever.” —Megan Tiscareno, Hammond, IN
Kick the habit
“I quit smoking, and right away joined a gym and started working out with a personal trainer. There was no way I could exercise and feel healthy if I kept lighting up. I’ve already dropped 37 pounds in three months!” —Leila Fathi, Memphis, TN
Do a purge
“I totally cleaned out my pantry. Once I replaced the foods I used to overindulge in, like ice cream, with lower-cal snacks, such as roasted sunflower seeds or Special K Chocolatey Delight cereal, I began making better choices automatically. Now, I’m slimmer than I was before I had my two kids!” —Lori Feldman, Coconut Creek, FL
Healthy up your happy hour
“After work, my colleagues and I always grabbed dinner—and it was usually deep-fried. Then we changed things up. Instead of nights out, we started walking and running around a local track. A year later, I’m down 40 pounds.” —Ellen Setzer, Cleveland, OH