Ana Calderone, Liza Hamm, Catherine Kast, and Raha Lewis
January 13, 2014 12:00 PM

LOST 136 LBS.

Kaitlyn Ekstrom

LOST 131 LBS.

Ginger Stauffacher

LOST 175 LBS.

Kodi Seaton

LOST 185 LBS.

Debbie Lazinsky

LOST 121 LBS.

Sharee Samuels

ATE A BOX OF WAFFLES AS ASIDE DISH

KAITLYN EKSTROM

WAS 263 LBS.

NOW 127 LBS.

Age: 31 Height: 5’6″

Lives in: Spencer, Mass.

Job: Fitness director at a retirement community

HER BAD HABITS

At age 12, I weighed 120 lbs. and got the idea I was fat. So I gave up dancing and soccer and gained 10 lbs. a year for the next 12 years. I’d have a box of frozen waffles with butter and syrup as a side dish with dinner.

HER TURNING POINT

My mom has been battling cancer, and when it returned in ’06, my family focused on eating healthy to help her. I learned how to cook lean proteins and greens. We needed a bit of joy, so we adopted a border collie mix, Charlie. I had to walk him eight times a day. In a little over a month, I lost 30 lbs. It was a wake-up call that I could change.

HER LIFE NOW

I teach 25 exercise classes a week. Once I’d lost 100 lbs., I also taught a class to help cancer survivors get into shape, because my mom’s fearlessness has been my inspiration in all of this.

How She Did It

• Eliminated white flour and refined sugar from her diet.

• Gave herself a cheat day every two weeks.

• Read Louise Hay’s book I Can Do It to “replace negative thoughts about my body with something positive.”

BEFORE 263 LBS.

GORGED ON 2 LBS. OF CANDY IN 30 MINUTES

GINGER STAUFFACHER

WAS 263 LBS.

NOW 132 LBS.

Age: 38

Height: 5’9″

Lives in: Cuba City, Wis.

Job: Angus beef and grain farmer

WHAT WENT WRONG

After gaining 50 lbs. during my third pregnancy, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, which makes losing weight hard. I was like, “Why try? This is my green light to eat!” At the store I would grab three bags of candy and eat all of them on the drive home, which was half an hour. This happened two to three times a week. In four months I gained over 100 lbs.

TURNING POINT

In 2011 I woke up at 2 a.m. sweating. My heart was racing out of my chest. I assumed I was having a heart attack. I thought about not seeing my kids [Abbey, 15, Tyler, 13, and Ryan, 11] graduate. I couldn’t bear it. Doctors said it was a racing heart, and I thought, “I’m never going through that again.”

HER LIFE NOW

I started out by doing a 10-minute workout video. Now I run four to six miles a day, and I just did a half marathon. I have so much energy, and my husband [Tim, 41] has a new, improved employee on our farm!

How She Did It

• Slimmed down on Jenny Craig and maintained her weight loss for more than a year.

• “I was a stress cooker. But I bought myself a Kindle to read more instead of cook.”

BEFORE 263 LBS.

WORE A SIZE 24 AS A TEEN

SHAREE SAMUELS

WAS 256 LBS.

NOW 135 LBS.

Age: 24

Height: 5’8″

Lives in: Federal Way, Wash.

Job: Graduate student

HER BAD HABITS

I never remember being below 200 lbs. My parents encouraged healthy eating, but I would sneak food before they came home from work and after they went to bed. I could eat an entire pack of cookies. At 17, I broke down shopping because I was so frustrated that they don’t make cute clothes for teens in a size 24.

HER LIFE-CHANGING TRIP

In 2010 I studied abroad in Scotland, and I really learned what eating healthy meant. Without all my favorite prepared American foods, I started eating vegetables and walking everywhere. When I came back, I lost 68 lbs. I never remember feeling so light.

HER LIFE NOW

I’ve been teaching Zumba for four years now and follow a vegan diet. I had loose skin, so I got a tummy tuck. In August I got married to my husband [Andre, 27], who also lost 93 lbs. Both of us are the fittest we have ever been!

How She Did It

• Followed a vegan diet inspired by the book Skinny Bitch.

• Tried new work-outs such as cycling or the DVD series Insanity.

• Stayed patient with the scale. “It doesn’t matter how long it takes to get there, as long as the scale is moving in the right direction.”

BEFORE 256 LBS.

DRANK 2 LITERS OF SODA DAILY

KODI SEATON

WAS 350 LBS.

NOW 175 LBS.

Age: 31

Height: 5’11”

Lives in: Washington, D.C.

Job: Creative officer at a nonprofit

HIS PAINFUL PAST

I suffered sexual abuse as a child, and what I learned in therapy was that to make myself unattractive to the person who abused me, I used food. I would drink 80 oz. of soda every day. I would eat beef nachos at 11 p.m. before bed. I was wearing size-54 jeans that were like drapes!

HIS TURNING POINT

When I was 25, my doctor told me that, with my parents’ history of hypertension, high blood pressure and diabetes, I was living really selfishly. No one had ever spoken to me like that before. I felt that I owed it to myself not to be a victim anymore. I moved to D.C. and decided to walk to work every day. I lost 11 lbs. my first week.

HIS LIFE NOW

I run half marathons every year. I’m a size 32 and rewarded myself with a new wardrobe. Everything before was about not wanting to be seen. Now I think it’s cool I can be an example for someone else.

How He Did It

• Made meals, like 4 oz. of chicken with broccoli and brown rice, that added up to a 2,000 calorie daily diet.

• Added 20 minutes of walking after splurging on a brownie.

• Created monthly playlists with pals for his workouts.

BEFORE 350 LBS.

BROKE A CHAIR AT A RELATIVE’S HOME

DEBBIE LAZINSKY

WAS 318 LBS.

NOW 133 LBS.

Age: 58

Height: 5’3″

Lives in: Wheatley Heights, N.Y.

Job: Health coach

HER EMOTIONAL EATING

I struggled with weight my whole life and had trouble conceiving. When I was 33, I lost 125 lbs. and got pregnant. I had a miscarriage eight weeks in, and it sent me into a depression. I gained 185 lbs. by medicating with food. At my brother’s house, I was sitting on a chair having dinner, and I started to hear a creak. Then all of a sudden, I disappeared under the table. From that day forward, I had to make sure any chair I sat on would hold me.

HER TURNING POINT

Five years ago I stepped on the scale and saw a neon-red number flashing: 318. I thought it was the time! My doctor said I was going to die before 60 and wanted me to do weight-loss surgery. That scared me.

HER LIFE NOW

My first time at the gym, I climbed on the elliptical, and after a minute I thought I needed the paramedics. At 53 I had arthritis, high blood pressure. Now I work out with a 25-year-old. Age is never a factor for me.

How She Did It

• Followed the Volumetrics Diet, supplementing her meals with fruits and vegetables.

• Committed to five hours of cardio and two full-body workouts a week.

• Rewarded herself for every 10 lbs. she lost – but not with food. “I started with a manicure, then a pedicure.”

BEFORE 318 LBS.

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