January 12, 2009 12:00 PM

LOST 121 LBS.

LOST 130 LBS.

LOST 125 LBS.

JOSIE RAPER
AGE 29

HEIGHT 5’4″

HOMETOWN Phoenix

NOW 119 LBS.

THEN 240 LBS.

THE CONVENIENCE-FOOD JUNKIE

“My weight gain started when my husband was in school for his MBA and we didn’t have time for family meals. My big thing became convenience. I don’t cook and I don’t like to plan meals. So for lunch I would always go to fast-food restaurants because there was no thinking involved; it actually got to the point where I had the exact change ready to go! And my husband, daughter and I would go out for dinner almost every night. Before I knew it, I was a size 22: the largest I’d ever been. I couldn’t believe the size of my legs, my face, my whole body.

Then we took a family trip to Hawaii; that’s when I finally realized how big I was. I had a lack of energy and motivation and wasn’t feeling happy with myself. I had read about Dr. Siegal’s Cookie Diet online, so I cleaned out my pantry and started over. A year later my lifestyle has completely changed. I avoid fast food and only eat out once or twice a month. I’m training for a half-marathon, so I have started to add new foods, like a small snack of yogurt and granola. But I still eat the cookies; I like them.”

HER MEAL MAKEOVERS

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

WE GAVE THEM A NEW LOOK!

To complete the remarkable transformations of our Half Their Sizers, we sent them to colorist Joel Warren and stylist Edward Tricomi, co-owners of Manhattan’s renowned Warren-Tricomi Salon, where the six spent the day before their photo shoots getting glam. “I felt like a princess!” says Paige Schmelzer (page 68), whose brunette locks were reddened. These weight-loss winners were well deserving of the royal treatment, Tricomi says: “To style their hair after such a monumental change was an honor.”

LISA DREHER
AGE 35

HEIGHT 5’7″

HOMETOWN Thornton, Colo.

NOW 126 LBS.

THEN 256 LBS.

THE SUGAR ADDICT

“As a stay-at-home mom, I was around food all the time. I would just sit and eat. My biggest downfall was I like to bake. My three kids got cupcakes and brownies daily, but I would eat most of it before they got home! I could eat a whole bowl of raw cookie dough without a problem; I craved it. But then my dad had a heart attack six years ago, and he lives only a block away, so I did all his cooking for him. I had to change our eating habits to fit his needs, which meant taking all the gunk out of our diets. Now rather than having a milkshake, I’ll make a Slim-Fast smoothie. I still bake, but I make healthy things like flaxseed bread—my kids love it! I tell people, ‘I’m not on a diet. This is my life now.'”

SNACK

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

STACIE GUINES
AGE 27

HEIGHT 5’4″

HOMETOWN Chattanooga

NOW 154 LBS.

THEN 340 LBS.

THE SNEAKY SNACKER

“I have always been heavy, and that made me extremely self-conscious. I remember I dated a guy in high school and always ate like a bird around him because I didn’t want him to see me eating, but then I’d binge later. At holiday parties I’d hit the buffet, then mingle with different people so I could pretend I hadn’t eaten yet and go get more food. I was in denial, but then at 22, I topped 300 lbs., and my doctor became concerned; diabetes and high blood pressure run in my family. I decided enough is enough, and a friend who had also struggled with her weight convinced me to do L.A. Weight Loss with her. It took time getting used to foods I hadn’t eaten, like asparagus, but I have a new passion for broccoli! And seeing the weight come off made it easy to stick to. So now when I go to parties, I eat beforehand!”

LUNCH

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

LESSIE ALVARADO
AGE 41

HEIGHT 5’3″

HOMETOWN Grand Prairie, Texas

NOW 145 LBS.

THEN 302 LBS.

THE DOUBLE DIPPER

“I used to hit a fast-food drive-through on the way home from work, but then an hour later, my husband would ask me what we were eating for dinner, and I wouldn’t tell him I’d already eaten. I was embarrassed to admit that I had eaten so much and embarrassed that I didn’t mind eating again! It was the same at lunch: My sister-in-law and I would go for an all-you-can-eat buffet, then my husband would want to go to lunch a few hours later, and I’d meet him. Then in 1999 my brother asked me to be in his wedding party, and I didn’t want people to say, ‘Gosh, look at the fat girl up there!’ So I went to a nutritionist, who helped me cut out all the bad stuff, and I lost 80 lbs. before the wedding. I’ve lost more since then with kickboxing classes and [online support group] SparkPeople.com. These days I don’t even eat a whole meal when I go out—I share!”

BREAKFAST

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

ARYA FARZIN
AGE 21

HEIGHT 5’11”

HOMETOWN Potomac, Md.

NOW 161 LBS.

THEN 365 LBS.

THE ALL-DAY GRAZER

“Growing up, we always had food everywhere. Even if it was just fruit, I’d be eating all day long. By the time I went to college, I had terrible habits; I’d just order food and watch TV all day. I could eat a huge cheesesteak, and then a couple of hours later, a whole pizza with two liters of soda. Heartburn was the only thing that would stop me. It got to the point where I was so big, I was embarrassed to go out with my friends. I didn’t want to be seen. That Christmas my uncle told me he lost some weight on NutriSystem and offered to let me live with him so he could help me. I followed the meal plan like a robot. It was a shock to the system, but the results kept me going. I still have dreams that I’m fat, but I’m confident I won’t gain it back.”

DINNER

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

PAIGE SCHMELZER
AGE 31

HEIGHT 5’4″

HOMETOWN Camano Island, Wash.

NOW 114 LBS.

THEN 239 LBS.

THE SECRET STASHER

“I’m sneaky. Nobody knew the volume of food I ate because I had food stashed at my desk and in my car. In front of other people at work, I’d have a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich and a soda—and later eat four candy bars in my office. A 48-pack of candy lasted only a week! Then I put the wrappers in the garbage outside so nobody saw them in my trash. I would buy a box of donuts on my way to work and eat two. Then I’d put the rest in the trunk of my car so no one saw them and munch on them later. At fast-food restaurants, I’d order a regular meal and a kid’s meal, so it looked like I had a kid, but I ate both. I lived a lie. But before my 30th birthday, I saw my reflection, and I didn’t want to be that way anymore. I looked up calorie information online, and there was a deal at my gym, and that’s how I started. Now I do cardio three days and weight training for two. It’s still hard to remember calorie counting; every day I struggle. But I’m proud of what I’ve done and don’t want to fall back.”

BREAKFAST

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

Go behind the scenes of our amazing Half Their Size makeovers at people.com/lookgreat

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