With the new year almost upon us, it's time for a new round of Times' weight-loss contestants. And the Lose 17 in '17 have a lot of lessons to share for the next crop of participants. Here are nine pieces of advice for the class of 2018 from the class of 2017:
1. Old habits die hard. "Even after almost a year of reasonably healthy eating and exercise, those old binge desires still creep in from time to time, especially in stressful situations," said Lose 17 in '17 contestant Barb Swanson, who has dropped 30 pounds so far this year. "Gotta always be on guard."
2. Don't be an all-or-nothing person. "I was that person, so that if I could not do a full hour workout I did none," Swanson said. "If I slipped and ate something unhealthy, then I ate everything I could find, since I had already blown my day.
"This year, I have learned that I still like my 60-minute workouts, but 30 minutes is better than no minutes. I have learned that when I slip up, enjoy the slip, but immediately return to my healthy eating rules. I even plan slip-ups once in awhile, which makes healthy eating the rest of the time much more doable."
3. Losing weight is easier if you do it in a group. Swanson said interacting with her fellow Lose 17 in '17 participants on Facebook helps keep her accountable. She said she hopes to stay connected with them as she continues her weight loss journey.
4. Don’t beat yourself up over mistakes. "They’re bound to happen," said contestant Eric Melnyczenko, who has shed 88 pounds in 2017. "It’s how you rebound from them that matters."
5. Live each day for that day. "Don’t plan your meals or exercise for the week or month," Melnyczenko said. "Make each day your best day, and if you can do that, then you have your best weeks and months."
6. You might not always lose weight. "But don't give up, find out the reason," said Lose 17 in '17 participant Jim Sharp. "For me, my metabolism is messed up. So nutritionists are working with me to get it back on track. The struggle is real. And it is harder, because you can give up alcohol or a drug, but we need food. And society has made it three times cheaper to eat unhealthy than healthy."
7. You're not alone. "Without this group and support, I would have never continued to pursue seeing a nutritionist, getting healthy and losing weight," Sharp said.
8. Maintain. "I have always been a quitter and I hate commitment and I despise fad diets," said contestant Traci Hanley, who has lost 56 pounds this year. "I've learned that if I put my mind to something I can do it. Never felt that way before. I have fun on weekends eating whatever in moderation and I've learned it's OK. I've maintained and that's all I wanted."
9. Be yourself. "I've learned I will never be a bodybuilder or Victoria's Secret supermodel because I like food too much," Hanley said. "Seriously though, I've always been self-conscious and I've learned that I can feel confident now and be proud of what I've accomplished and be open to help other people who are struggling just like I was.
"I have been hunted down by so many people asking how I did it. I have no magic answer. It's gotta come from you. I had enough, I saw my daughter go off to do the most challenging thing I could imagine (enter the military), and I said to myself, I'm not sitting on my (butt) moping and watching her make such a lifestyle change; I gotta do something, too.
"This contest was the best thing that has happened to me in such a long time. We all need to be proud and learn to be proud of ourselves."