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Real People, Real Success

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Chantel Hobbs

1995: 326 lbs., Now: 154lbs.
“I think I had to go through being fat to get where I am today,” says Chantel Hobbs, who at 34 is a Coral Springs, Fla., fitness instructor, marathon runner, mom of four – and 172 lbs. lighter than she was five years ago. Obese for more than half of her life (at age 15, she was already more than 200 lbs.), Hobbs retained more weight after each pregnancy. At age 29, however, she looked at her family and said, “I want to live longer.”

Using a plan of her own design, she began in the gym, pedaling a recumbent bike for 30 minutes, six days a week. After a month she cut portion sizes but still ate favorites like fettuccini Alfredo; at 25 lbs. down she switched to six small meals and fewer carbs. All the while, says husband Keith, 34, a small-business owner, “she still baked and made normal dinners for us. It was unbelievable.” By her 30th birthday, Chantel had shed 101 lbs. and today maintains her 154-lb. physique in part by weight training and teaching spinning classes. Is it easy? Not always. “There is no getting there,’ no day I can stop working out and eat whatever I want,” she says. “I pray all the time for God to keep me in check.” But it is clear she’s in it for the marathon, not the sprint. “Everybody has their sweet spot in life,” says Hobbs. “This is mine.”

“I try to break a sweat every day,” says Hobbs (training for her next marathon; she competed in five in a year). Special: Hobbs’s Daily Plan

PEOPLE asked Hobbs to keep a food diary for three days, and share the details of a typical workout. On days when people don’t want to go to the gym or don’t want to eat another salad with chicken on it, she says, they can remember something they’ve read about me or someone else, and that can inspire them.

Her Weight-Lifting Routine:

12 hammer curls with a 15-lb. weight
10 hammer curls with a 20-lb. weight
16 hammer curls, with a 25-lb. weight, alternating arms
20 alternating front curls with a 15-lb. weight

Bench dips: Sitting between two benches, legs on one bench, her hands behind her back on the other, she lowers and raises her hips.
First set: 20 dips; second set: 16 dips; third set: 10 dips with a 25-lb. flat weight on her stomach.

Tricep Pushdowns
She uses a vertical pulley at the gym.
First set: 24 pulls with 30 lbs.; second set: 10 pulls with 40 lbs.; third set: overhead presses, with 40 lbs.

Back and Chest
In a lunge position, she does cable crossovers (pulls outstretched arms together from her side to center of chest.
First set: 15 reps with 30 lbs.; second set: 10 reps with 40 lbs.; third set: four reps with 50 lbs.; fourth set: 50 reps at 20 lbs.

Hobbs encourages her kids (including T-ball player Jake) to be active, because “it’s tormenting to have a serious weight problem.”
Cable Rowing
First set: 15 reps with 40 lbs.; second set: 12 reps with 50 lbs.; third set: 15 reps with 60 lbs.

She does side rises with a bent elbow.
First set: 25 reps with 10 lbs.; second set: 5 reps with 15 lbs.; third set: 20 reps with 15 lbs.

Stair Stepper
She moves between levels 5-10 for 30 minutes

After a full workout, she teaches a 60-minute spin class.

Hobbs (sharing apples and peanut butter with Jake, Luke and Kayla) says she keeps her kids’ favorite fruits cut up in the fridge to encourage them “to reach for it first.”

Food Diary

20 oz. water
Protein shake: 1 scoop protein powder; half banana; 1 c. fat-free milk and ice
Protein bar
20 oz. water
8 oz. diet soda
Grilled chicken on salad with balsamic dressing
8 oz. diet soda
1 tbsp. peanut butter on 1 slice whole grain bread with 1 tbsp. half-sugar strawberry jam
32 oz. water
2 c. microwave popcorn
32 oz. water
Chicken Parmesan cutlet; 1 c. pasta; Italian salad
3 bites husband’s chocolate birthday cake
8 oz. diet soda

20 oz. water
Whole-grain banana-flavored breakfast bar
10 large strawberries
Snack (while cycling 50 miles in the Everglades)
16 oz. sports drink mixed with 16 oz. water
After ride: whole grain bagel, 1 tbsp. peanut butter
1 banana
32 oz. water
Turkey sandwich, pickle, hummus, 20 fat-free wheat crackers
8 oz. diet soda
Light protein shake
1/4 c. raw almonds
32 oz. water
1/2 chicken breast, 1 c. steamed broccoli, 1/2 c. rice pilaf
8 oz. diet soda
Low-calorie ice cream bar

20 oz. water
Whole-wheat English muffin, 1 tbsp. peanut butter
Protein bar
20 oz. water
8 oz. diet soda
Roast beef and veggies in whole-wheat wrap, dab of mayo, no cheese
16 oz. water
Fat-free pudding cup; 1/4 c. peanuts with salt
24 oz. water, sugar-free gum
24 oz. vitamin water
8 oz. chicken breast, 1 small plain baked sweet potato; 1/2 c. coleslaw
16 oz. diet soda
10 small honey-wheat pretzel rods
24 oz. water

“I chew sugarless gum during parties. If you’re chewing gum, your mouth is busy and it’s harder to snack”

Rob Powell

Then: 283 lbs., Now: 155 lbs.
At 283 lbs., Rob Powell was winded by the simplest activity. After playing tag with his children one day, he “was so out of breath, I thought I was dead,” he says. “I needed to do something.” In 2001 he spotted an ad for hypnotherapy, a technique that has been used for years to curb addictions like smoking and has been growing in popularity as a weight-loss treatment. “I figured why not?” says Powell, 38.

After just one session at a Chicago-area Positive Changes center – where he lounged in a recliner and watched a video on nutrition and exercise, then listened to a 30-minute tape repeating such directives as, “You will stop eating before you are full” – Powell, a consultant, was choosing salads over fast food. Within two weeks he dropped 14 lbs. Inspired, he committed to a year of weekly sessions and also began exercising, alternating between the elliptical machine and weight-lifting five days a week, getting down to 148 lbs. No wonder then that, even with a year’s worth of hypnotherapy sessions’ costing $2,377, Powell says, “If it had cost $10,000, it would have been a deal. I got my life back.”

“You can squeeze in a workout anywhere. On work breaks take a brisk walk around the building”

Angela Williams

Then: 430 lbs., Now: 180 lbs.
At 430 lbs. Angela Williams suffered from arthritis and sleep apnea and was a borderline diabetic. Still, “I thought, ‘Nothing’s wrong with me. I’m cute,'” she says. “I was in denial.” Her wake-up call came in ’04, when her aunt died of heart disease. Fearing a similar fate, Williams, now 27, signed up with LA Weight Loss. Paying $8 a week for the program’s diet counseling, she soon cut out Cap’n Crunch and fast food for chicken breasts and low-fat cheese.

She also started taking walks and during the next two years lost 250 lbs. The Alexandria, La., health worker, who takes aerobics classes three times a week, can now cross her legs and tie her shoes. “I was in the store one day and saw someone in a mirror and thought, ‘She is so pretty,'” she recalls. “Then I realized, ‘That’s me!'”

To read more profiles of weight-loss success, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.