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Getting Down To Size And Keeping It Off

The Early Show's week-long series "Early Gets Down 2 Size" introduces you to some people who have not only lost significant weight, but more impressively, have maintained that weight loss for two years.

One of them is Krista Vernoff, a new mother who after her pregnancy gained a beautiful baby girl, but couldn't lose the post-baby weight.

"I gained fifty pounds with my pregnancy, I lost 26 pounds with my birth and then I didn't lose any more weight. It wasn't a self esteem thing. It wasn't 'Oh, I'm less of a person because I'm heavy.' This body made a beautiful baby. Why am I going to love that baby and then turn around and beat up on that body?" Vernoff said.

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"I loved my baby," she said. "I was happy. I was digging it. But I also became acutely aware that I needed to lose some weight to feel well and to keep up with my daughter and to live a happy and healthy life. I was too big."

"When it was 40 or 50 pounds, then I was really struggling physically. I couldn't catch my breath. I couldn't keep up. That's when it was really a problem for me," Vernoff said.

"I had sworn off dieting when I was 19 years old. I wanted to feel well. I wanted to have a ton of energy. I did want to shop in regular clothing stores. I pretty much had myself convinced that I could shop in those stores but I was choosing not to because the plus-size clothes were more comfortable but, yeah, I wanted to get back into some of my old clothes for sure," she explained.

Vernoff, head writer and executive producer of "Grey's Anatomy," and Az Ferguson, her friend and trainer, stopped by The Early Show to talk about her weight loss success.

Ferguson developed the plan that has kept Vernoff's weight off, and they've written about the experience in a new book called "The Game On! Diet."

The Game On! Diet The Game On! Diet

To help Vernoff lose weight, the plan was actually a game.

"It's basically a game that's developed around healthy habits. There's a point system and structure and you get points for eating the right way, five small balanced meals, for sleeping the right amount of time, for drinking a certain amount of water, for being in communication with your teammate and opposition for taking on a new habit and giving up an old one," he explained.

The goal is to earn as many points as possible, and you can choose who you compete against.

"It's like a support structure that you're going to compete with and against," he explained.

The score is tallied once a week, but the game goes on for four weeks.

Asked how many people Vernoff competed against, Ferguson said, "Initially we had a game of six people and because so many people were interested, the next game we played was about 60 people and after that it was like 200 people and we said, 'Look we'll write the book.'"

"And this is good for people who are competitive?" co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez asked.

"For competitive or as Krista likes to put it, co-depend," Ferguson said. "A lot of people tend to focus on others and making sure that they're a priority rather than their own health. So we tried to at that time focus off yourself and off weight loss and put it on earning points and being part of a fun competitive game."

Vernoff's weight loss was dramatic, dropping from 204 to 161 pounds - a total of 43 pounds shed.

She told Rodriguez it took her about five months to lose the weight. "Just played the game over and over and I'm really competitive and it was really fun, so it wasn't hard. It was easy."

Asked why she thinks this game worked when other diets had not, Vernoff said, "Well, it was fun and you got a meal off every week and you got a day off every week. So I didn't feel deprived. Diets had always failed me. I always gained weight with diets because it was all or nothing and with the game, if you slip and you lose some points, you recover instead of throwing the whole diet out the window because you slipped. So that was a big difference."

"What would you, Az, say is the biggest mistake people make?" Rodriguez asked Ferguson.

"I think they try to lose weight too quickly and the other thing is that you have to make sure that what you're doing is fun and enjoyable. Otherwise you just won't do it for very long," he explained.

As for Vernoff, whenever she gains a little weight, she plays the game again. "Now I'm working out with a trainer. But without a trainer, just playing the game, I lost 40 pounds. And I've kept it off playing the game. If I get on the scale and I've gained a few pounds, I play the game again. And we put a prize on the line and I play with my friends and it's really fun and easy."

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