Tracey Wygal's success strategy

1. Keep a food diary. Write down everything you eat and drink. Calculate total calories at the end of the day. Be consistent in your diet.

2. Be consistent in your exercise. Create a set gym/workout schedule. Vary only when absolutely necessary.

3. Find a gym that accommodates your lifestyle (hours of operation, day care options, equipment, classes offered, etc.).

4. Change your outlook on food. Instead of equating food with happiness or enjoyment, view it as purely as nourishment or fuel for your body to function.

5. Be realistic in your goals and program. Know that it will take time to make considerable change, and don't give up!

6. Stop making excuses and make it happen! Make YOUR health a PRIORITY in your life.

"I was amazed by how many calories I was eating," Wygal said. "The food diary showed me that I really needed to get my food intake under control and helped me maintain my diet realistically."

She also started exercising.

At first, Wygal says, she was too embarrassed to go to a gym, so she bought an elliptical machine and started working out 15 minutes a day in her apartment.

"It was all I could do at first. I didn't give up, though," she said. "Gradually, my endurance improved. After losing about 30 pounds, I decided to join a small gym."

Several months later, Wygal was ready to take the next step. She hired a trainer and began a short strength-training program.

That's when something clicked.