1 of 8
THEN: 251 LBS.
"I used to turn to food whenever I was stressed and emotional," says the Georgia resident. "I ate until there was nothing else – or until it was time to go to bed." At her heaviest weight, Fernandez felt "defeated and out of control."
2 of 8
NOW: 125 LBS.
Thanks to Jenny Craig and Jillian Michaels's workout tapes, the mom of two shed a staggering 126 lbs. "The amount of energy I have is incredible," she says. "Shopping is so much fun now. I went shopping for boots recently for the first time in years and almost cried in the store when I could zip them over my calves."
3 of 8
THEN: 288 lbs.
"I was a secret eater with no sense of portion control," Donahoo, 27, tells PEOPLE. "If someone brought cake or cookies to the office, I’d take the same amount as everyone else, but I’d go back throughout the day and just scarf a bunch of it down. I knew I was overeating but I didn’t want anyone to judge me for it."
4 of 8
NOW: 151 lbs.
"I now run 3 to 5 miles three times a week," says Donahoo, who has completed several 5K races since losing 137 lbs. "When I was heavy, I couldn’t even make it halfway around the block!"
5 of 8
THEN: 426 lbs.
Two years ago, the Portland, Tenn., native had reached his heaviest weight and even auditioned to be on The Biggest Loser. "I was depressed," says Neal, 28. "I went on a roller coaster at a local theme park and I assumed I could sit down. But it took two people to try and fit me in the seat. There were all these people staring at me so I made it a joke. I was laughing but I was hurting inside. Finally I just went to the bathroom and started crying."
6 of 8
NOW: 200 lbs.
Neal committed to working out to P90X videos for more than a year and changed up his diet. "Spinach is my staple in everything," says Neal, who makes whole wheat tortilla wraps filled with lean meats and veggies for lunch. Now a full-time fitness coach, he's committed to helping others transform their lives. "I don’t want this journey to be all about me," he says. "I want to be about helping other people."
7 of 8
THEN: 225 LBS.
For the food blogger, eating fried rice and ice cream from food trucks wasn’t just an indulgence – it was a job requirement. At 5 ft. 10 in. and 225 lbs., Feitel, 25, was resigned to being "a chubby guy," he says. "I just ate whatever I wanted." He also religiously avoided any form of exercise, which left him sluggish and sullen. “I was definitely angry and defensive," he admits.
8 of 8
NOW: 159 LBS
After coming to work for Skinnygirl empire founder Bethenny Frankel, Feitel was encouraged to make small dietary changes that yielded big results. "Before I would have ice cream, and now dark chocolate almond bark is my most frequent dessert," says Feitel. "It’s not about deprivation. All I did was make those small adjustments." Now 66 lbs. lighter, Feitel, who also practices yoga daily, says, “I'm a lot more confident and outgoing."
For more weight-loss winners, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.