January 09, 2012 12:00 PM

Born with a JOINT disorder

A.J.Bray

Age 31 Height 6′

Lives in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Now 153 lbs.

I was born with bone and joint deformities. My body was my enemy-not only because of my disability, but because I couldn’t control my weight. My power wheelchair had a 300-lb. limit, and I was up to 335 lbs. I looked like I was in a Barcalounger. On my 22nd birthday I realized I was prediabetic and I could die. I researched the Atkins Diet and cut back on sugar. By the first month, I had lost 25 lbs. Now I smile more, and I don’t feel as trapped. I feel amazing.

335 lbs.

lives in the FATTEST state

Josh Troy

Age 33 Height 5’11”

Lives in Clarksdale, Miss.

Now 190 lbs.

I handled stress by turning to food. I’d go to a buffet and have four full plates. Last fall I was at rock bottom: I could barely breathe or walk. As a sports journalist there were times I didn’t have the strength to get on the field, so I’d take pictures from the crowd. I finally joined a gym, and now I work out almost every day-running, jumping rope, playing basketball. In Mississippi there’s lots of fast food, but I’ll grab a turkey sandwich. I’ve learned you can find something healthy anywhere. The addiction to food is something I’m still fighting, but I accept who I am.

350 lbs.

lost 2/3 her size

Wendy McConkey

Age 38 Height 5’5″

Lives in Tacoma, Wash.

Now 147 lbs.

I would eat until I’d go to bed. I loved chips, crackers-stuff that is easy to keep consuming without realizing how much you’re eating. As a kindergarten teacher, I couldn’t get down on the floor with the kids because I couldn’t get back up again. In 2005 I had only one seat on a plane, and the arms dug into my sides and gave me bruises that lasted a week. I joined Weight Watchers a year later. After I lost 35 lbs., I started walking a half mile but would have to stop twice. After a year and a half, I’d lost about 130 lbs. and was walking three miles three days a week. In 2007 I weighed 320 lbs., and I took my first Zumba class; I couldn’t believe I was able to hang in there the whole hour! Now I teach five classes a week, and I’ve made so many friends. I finally feel like I’m not hiding the real me anymore.

449 lbs

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