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For the first 4.5 months of this year, Andy Tylka worked out four days a week, tracked his meals, cooked overnight oatmeal for breakfast, read a daily fitness tip on a smartphone app.

Then one week, bored with the redundancy of it all, he stopped.

But he still attended his monthly weigh-ins for The Times' Lose 19 in '19 weight-loss contest. He would just go to Franciscan Health Fitness Centers Schererville — where he is a member — step on the scale, record his weight and leave.

This month, however, he brought his workout clothes. And he stayed. He's back on track.

"It only takes that one time, which is great," said Tylka, 36, an auto body shop owner from Dyer. "I think everybody can relate to that. It's that one time of jumping back in. It's like, 'OK, I remember how to do this.' I started getting the motivation again, and the eating habits just kind of come with it."

Some of Tylka's fellow 18 contestants — like many people trying to stay in shape — also have fallen off, and gotten back on, the fitness wagon, on their way to losing 380 pounds in 2019.

Lisa F. Crowder, a personal trainer with Franciscan Health Fitness Centers Schererville, recommends that if people in a weight-loss or fitness program take a few weeks or months off, to start slow when they resume it. She said it can often take weeks to start a new habit.

"For example, if someone is not used to eating breakfast or snacks but understands it is important to keep their metabolism going and correct calories in alignment throughout the day, they should begin by introducing one snack for a couple weeks," she said. "Then once their system gets used to that, maybe add a light breakfast for a few weeks. In other words, don't try to introduce a bunch of new habits all at once.

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"If someone is just getting back to an exercise program, perhaps after an illness or injury, they shouldn't introduce seven hours of exercise all at once the first week," she added. "Begin with a light workout two to three days the first three weeks, then gradually introduce an additional day or more intensity or more time dedicated to each workout.

Contestant Steve Clark, a Merrillville product specialist, has said he slacked off on his diet back in May, but has been able to remain consistent lately because of the accountability from his partner.

"Having my wife join Weight Watchers with me has been such a blessing," said Clark, 46. "We have been cooking more and eating out less. We’ve been enjoying the meals you can buy at Whole Foods that come with all the ingredients in one box."

Rachel Leep, a contestant from Crown Point, said she also has been able to get her diet in line with the help of Weight Watchers.

"I've definitely been discouraged on how slow my weight loss has been," the 22-year-old secretary said. "The thing I learned at Weight Watchers is 'progress, not perfection.' That really resonated with me. Every day I'm getting a little closer to a healthy lifestyle."

She has stayed steady with her exercise routine, working out with a personal trainer once a week and on her own the rest of the time at a local gym.

She has learned that she doesn't have to deprive herself of the things she likes but, rather, has to control her portions (she has given up high-calorie specialty coffee drinks at McDonald's and Starbucks, however).

"Staying motivated has been hard," she said. "I tell myself almost every day: progress, not perfection. I don't have to work out super hard every day and work out every day, just get a little bit better every day, just work toward the goal."

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Health Reporter

Giles is the health reporter for The Times, covering the business of health care as well as consumer and public health. He previously wrote about health for the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World. He is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.