By Liza Hamm Thailan Pham Alexis Chiu and Asher Fogle
Updated January 09, 2012 12:00 PM
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lost 131 lbs.

Crystal Evans

lost 225 lbs.

Natalie Rungruang

lost 165 lbs.

Tyler Synan

lost 146 lbs.

Youlanda Marshall

lost 203 lbs.

Marge Lyse

lost 150 lbs.

Angela McCullough

Bye-bye, Baby Weight, Hello, Miniskirts

CRYSTAL EVANS LOST 131 LBS.

AGE | 28 HEIGHT | 5’1″

HOMETOWN | OLYMPIA, WASH.

OCCUPATION | STAY-AT-HOME MOM

WAS | 240 LBS. NOW |109 LBS.

240 lbs.

GAINING BABY WEIGHT

“I started around 140 lbs. I had pregnancy complications and was on bed rest. After I gave birth to my daughter [Kara, 5], I was 240 lbs.! I liked to cook, and I would eat a whole meal in the kitchen before I served it and then I’d eat another meal. I dreaded walking out the door. I didn’t want anyone to see me, not even strangers.”

HER MOTIVATION

“I found Nutrisystem, and I got a jog stroller. But my bikini was my inspiration. I had it hanging in the garage with all the workout equipment. I’d be on the elliptical, staring at it thinking, ‘I’m going to wear that again!'”

HER NEW BODY

“I lost 120 lbs., and then I got pregnant again [with son Caleb, 2]. I bounced back faster with him, and now I’m thinner than I ever was! But the excess skin on my belly was frustrating. So I had skin-removal surgery in 2010. After, I got rid of all my shape wear. It was freeing! Now I love wearing miniskirts and formfitting clothes.”

QUICK TIP

Every 10 lbs. I’d give myself a little reward, like a spa treatment.

Swapped Sundaes for 7-Mile Jogs

NATALIE RUNGRUANG LOST 225 LBS.

AGE | 35 HEIGHT | 5’6″

HOMETOWN | JEFFERSON, GA.

OCCUPATION | PSYCHOLOGY GRADUATE STUDENT

WAS | 360 LBS. NOW |135 LBS.

HER BAD HABITS

“A vegetable in my house growing up was French fries. As an adult I would fill a big bowl with Rocky Road ice cream and whipped cream at night. Everybody told me I had a pretty face, which basically means you would be attractive if you weren’t heavy.”

HER TURNING POINT

“One day I bought the Atkins Diet book at a used bookstore for $1. I ate a lot of spinach; I hadn’t had it before. Now I love it! I keep pictures of myself before I lost weight on the refrigerator, and I ask myself if I really want to eat something badly enough to look like that again.”

HER LIFE NOW

“The first time at the gym I barely made it 10 minutes on the treadmill. Now I run seven miles every morning before my kids [sons Bailey, 12, Reece, 10, and Camden, 8] get up. I feel proud of myself. I’ve taken control of my body, my weight and my life.”

QUICK TIP

Losing 200 lbs. can feel overwhelming. If you take it 5 lbs. at a time, you get excited.

360 lbs.

Traded Pizza for Zumba

YOULANDA MARSHALL LOST 146 LBS.

AGE | 34 HEIGHT | 5’4″

HOMETOWN | HOUSTON

OCCUPATION | MIDDLE SCHOOL ENGLISH TEACHER

WAS | 292 LBS. NOW | 146 LBS.

HER FOOD WEAKNESSES

“It started in college: No one can tell you not to have bean and cheese nachos at 2 a.m. The people at the pizza place around the corner knew me by name. Eventually I realized, ‘I’m almost 300 lbs.!’ It was overwhelming. I felt hopeless.”

HER TIPPING POINT

“In my fourth year of teaching, I came back from Christmas break and had gained 17 lbs. I was out-of-control eating. I joined Weight Watchers and started using a program at Curves that tracks your calories and repetitions. I learned I was socializing during my gym time, not necessarily working out!” HER LIFE NOW “I have an addiction-Zumba. I do whatever I have to to get to class. And dancing: Before, I’d get winded. Now I can last the whole song!”

QUICK TIP

“Pack snacks in your purse. I have a snack bar, two apples and light potato chips.”

292 lbs.

330 lbs.

From Shut-in to Skateboarder

TYLER SYNAN LOST 165 LBS.

AGE | 23 HEIGHT | 5’10”

HOMETOWN | SPRINGFIELD, ORE.

OCCUPATION | SECURITY OPERATOR

WAS | 330 LBS. NOW |165 LBS.

HIS LONELY TEEN YEARS

“I was always chunky. I had man boobs, and there was a lot of teasing. In high school I always had a two-liter of soda in my backpack and a bag of chips. I was a shut-in. My sport was computer gaming.”

HIS BREAKTHROUGH

“I went to the ER several times. I had stomach pains from eating too much, and it was hard to breathe. At 21, I had an epiphany: I was afraid I’d end up 40 and bedridden. I worked graveyard shifts as a security operator, and Medifast commercials were on TV. I tried it; the first week was hell. But I felt empowered when I lost 10 lbs.”

HIS LIFE NOW

“I got a skateboard, and I get on my bike at least three times a week. The first time I got down to a size large, I cried a little. Now I feel like a lot more is possible.”

QUICK TIP

“If I get really hungry, I brush my teeth. That minty flavor in your mouth ruins anything sweet you’re going to eat after.”

Once a Stress Eater, Now an Ice Skater

MARGE LYSE LOST 203 LBS.

AGE | 52 HEIGHT | 5’9″

HOMETOWN | NAPERVILLE, Ill.

OCCUPATION | BILLING ASSISTANT

WAS | 378 LBS. NOW |175 LBS.

HOW SHE GAINED WEIGHT

“When I was dealing with a divorce, my comfort was food. I’d eat fast food in the car, throw away the evidence and then have dinner with my family. Later I’d gorge on a huge bowl of cereal with whole milk in the middle of the night.”

HER MOMENT OF SHAME

“At a party I was dancing, and I was really sweaty but too embarrassed to take off my blazer. I collapsed into a chair from heat exhaustion. I couldn’t let my kids [Kim, now 28, and Eric, 26] see me like that anymore.”

HER LIFE CHANGES

“I wanted to get below 200 lbs. I started going to the gym three times a week. I joined Jenny and got a BodyMedia Fit armband, which tracks my calories and activity. I love ice skating with my husband [she remarried in ’07] because I’m not afraid of falling; I can get back up now!”

QUICK TIP

It’s easier to work out with a buddy pushing me on.

378 lbs.

A Closet Binger Turned Firefighter

ANGELA McCULLOUGH LOST 150 LBS.

AGE | 35 HEIGHT | 5’5″

HOMETOWN | NEW MILFORD, ILL.

OCCUPATION | VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER

WAS | 285 LBS.

NOW | 135 LBS.

HER SECRET BINGES

“I would grab cupcakes and chips from our snack cabinet when my husband [Jeremy, 36] was asleep. Then I would make eggs. It would go from 10:30 until 2 a.m. My hip measurements were 60½”. I was as round as I was tall!”

HER TURNING POINT

“I would have to rock back and forward just to get off the couch. And I’m a volunteer firefighter, but I would need to suck a tank of air after getting my gear on. I chose to do Jenny and knew it was my last hope.”

HER LIFE NOW

“I do Pilates and do ab work on an exercise ball three times a week. And I’m more of a risk-taker: I climbed the ladder tower at the station. I have no fears.”

QUICK TIP

When I’m craving chocolate, I eat a piece of fruit, then wait 20 minutes. Usually the craving subsides.

285 lbs.

Time for a Makeover!

To prep for their photo shoot, we sent our Half Their Size group to celebrity stylist Ted Gibson’s New York City salon for new dos to go with their new bodies. “They look chic and modern,” says Gibson. “It’s been inspirational for me!”

People TABLET BONUS VIDEO Behind the scenes at the shoot