HER STORY: Debbie Lazinsky was a chubby kid who grew into an obese adult. "It was a combination of things: ignorance of proper nutrition, a sedentary lifestyle and I was also a really good cook," Lazinsky says.

Although her doctor recommended she have gastric bypass surgery, she resisted. "I needed to find a way to get control of my food, because I didn't want to eat the way people have to eat after surgery," says Lazinsky of the three to six small meals a day the surgery dictates. "I wanted to have a big, indulgent meal once in a while if I wanted."

The turning point for Lazinsky was a prediction from her doctor that she wouldn't live past 60.

"My heart was OK, but I was pre-diabetic, on blood pressure medicine, and I'd had a knee replacement," says Lazinsky, who took 18 months to lose the weight.

She started by educating herself on good nutrition. Then, she stopped going out to dinner, didn't watch the food channels and discontinued the activities that encouraged her to overeat.

She also visited an acupuncturist and had a tiny staple inserted in her ear that was designed to help her control her cravings and her hormones. "It doesn't make you lose weight," Lazinsky explains of the unconventional practice. "It helps you resist the urge to eat inappropriately."

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DIET: Previously, Lazinsky ate primarily unhealthy carbs, too much fat, fatty proteins, and too few vegetables and fruits. Now, she carries healthy food around so she isn't tempted to skip meals. She starts the day with fruit and yogurt. She has a snack of whole-wheat toast or a cereal bar. Lunch is either a salad or wrap with a grilled protein. Dinner always starts with a salad with oil and vinegar or lemon, followed by a lean protein with vegetables.


EXERCISE: Lazinsky, who became a health coach after she lost weight, exercises five days a week at the gym and bikes and walks outside in nice weather.


ADVICE: "You need to take a look at what your life is today and find ways to maintain your obligations to family and your job, but find ways to do healthy things for yourself. You have to do it a little bit at a time."