Special Report: The diet gameplan

CREATED Nov. 13, 2013 - UPDATED: Nov. 13, 2013

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FORT MYERS, Fla. - Frustrated by your lack of progress is losing weight?

You may want to consider some advice from a Southwest Florida mother of two, Natalia Harvey.
 
She lost 62 pounds! The 5'3" 46 year-old went from 182 pounds down to 120 pounds. 
 
Natalia also shrunk from a size 14 to a size 2.
 
She says one of the big breakthroughs for her was to eat more often!
 
"Five times a day versus the three meals," she says.
 
She also got help from personal trainer Ray O'Kelly 
 
"That (eating more often) actually helps, " says Kelly because they're spacing their meals out.
Natalia took Ray's suggestion to keep her meals small and convenient.
 
Under Ray's plan, that can be something as simple as microwaving a half of a sweet potato or microwaving some non-breaded, non-fried fish.
 
"I started to limit the size of my meals to about no larger than palm of my hand," says Natalia.
 
Ray says a lot of people make the mistake of only counting total calories for the day instead of how many they're having in one meal sitting. 
 
"Generally, an average woman can only digest 280, maybe 320 calories a meal," he says.
 
"So even if they only have 900 calories the whole day - but eat almost all of it in on meal - that's more than their bodies can handle at one time."
 
"That means 'storing' it in the thighs, hips, buttocks and so on," says Ray. 
 
Natalia also worked to get her cravings under control.
 
"A lot of women especially are carb addicts, " she says.
 
"They just have to have their sugar, their carbs, and I was one of them. "
 
Ray's first recommendation is to drop what you think is not sugary!
 
He says the fake sweeteners in diet soda, crystal light and other similar drinks can actually increase your sweet cravings and make you eat more. He says he knows from his own experience as well as that of his clients. He's an amateur bodybuilder who knows just want to do when he wants to get more "cut" before a competition.
 
"When I drop the sweet and low and artificial sweetener, pounds fall off because I'm not craving as much food," says Ray.
 
Natalia has learned to go for naturally sweet, fiber-filled options.
 
"More fruit versus refined sugar ," she says.
 
A key part of her weight loss was exercise. Starting such a program could be daunting for many of us.
Natalia began with something she already liked to do - riding a bike. 
 
"I started with the spinning ," she says.
 
Your first step could be as easy as a walk through your neighborhood or a leisurely swim. The key is start by doing something - anything - that gets you moving more. If there's a secret weapon to Natalia's program it's probably the one thing Ray surprised her with - that simple balance exercises can help you lose weight! 
 
"Balance works so many more muscles which burn more calories for you," says Ray. 
 
Natalia now does simple exercises (like standing on one leg) throughout the day - even at work - that help her fire up her metabolism while toning her body. 
 
If you're struggling to lose weight, Natalia recommends you remember that eventually we can all figure out what our bodies need - to get healthy and stay that way.
 
"It's really effortless for me to maintain the 120 pounds i'm at," she says.
 
"I'm happy there and it's been that way for a quite a while."