January 08, 2007 12:00 PM

HE DID IT FOR $80!

HIS BIG INVESTMENT: ASICS RUNNING SHOES

After spending 13 years eating his way up to 325 lbs.—breakfast was three bagels with cream cheese; lunch and dinner were often fast food—Drew Saur suffered pain in his knees in 2003. “I like to be mobile, so that’s when my weight hit me,” he recalls. Still, the Rochester, N.Y., systems engineer wasn’t ready for an extreme weight loss plan (“I didn’t want to be seen as a failure if I couldn’t stick to it,” he explains), so he started cutting back on calories, going from about 5,000 a day to 3,500, which he kept track of with an Excel spreadsheet. After losing 20 lbs. in only three months, he started walking five miles once a week; by November 2003 he was running two miles at a time and decided to buy his first pair of running shoes (cost: $80). The pounds kept flying off, and today the 6-ft. Saur, 38, maintains a weight of 165 lbs. by running three to four times a week, four to seven miles at a time. How does he stay motivated? As he snacks on a Girl Scout Thin Mint cookie, Saur says, “Running enables me to eat what I want—and that’s important, because I love food!”

NOW! 165 lbs.

SIZE 32

THEN 325 lbs.

SIZE 56

SHE DID IT FOR $120!

HER BIG INVESTMENT: THE SIX-WEEK BODY MAKEOVER WEIGHT LOSS PLAN

Yes, the food at Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe in Tulsa is good—but what made Jamie Ritchey such a loyal patron is that, back when she weighed 342 lbs., it was the only place that had booths wide enough to fit her. Then, in 2003, after seeing a friend of hers lose weight on The Six-Week Body Makeover—a diet program by Extreme Makeover weight loss guru Michael Thurmond—Ritchey, 45, purchased the $120 fitness kit. She cut out sugar and switched to five small meals a day, such as a two-egg white omelet with veggies for breakfast, a midmorning snack of smoked turkey and strawberries, tuna and half a baked potato for lunch, a small piece of chicken with pineapple in late afternoon and a low-carb vegetable wrap and salad for dinner. It took three years, but in 2006 the 5’3″ school-teacher hit her goal weight of 120 lbs., which she maintains with cardio, strength-training workouts six days a week and weekly sessions with a trainer (cost: $80). “I learned that I am the result of my choices,” she says, “and that I had to make different ones.”

NOW! 120 lbs.

SIZE 4

THEN 342 lbs.

SIZE 32

SHE DID IT FOR $3,500!

HER BIG INVESTMENT: A NUTRITIONAL COUNSELOR

As a radio DJ in Baltimore, “every night I was going out,” says Khia Edgerton. “I was eating cheese-burgers every day, going out drinking.” But in 2003, the 5’7″ Edgerton saw the scale hit 340 lbs. and decided it was time to make a change. “In my business, image is important,” explains Edgerton, who says a friend suggested she see a nutritionist. Ever since, Edgerton has been shelling out $83 a month to Tracy Ware (above) at the Extreme Weight Loss Center in Baltimore, which gets her thrice-weekly one-on-one counseling sessions and weigh-ins, as well as low-carb, no-sugar eating plans (a sample breakfast: two strips of turkey bacon with two ounces of cheese). But Edgerton, who lost 20 lbs. the first month and today weighs 165 lbs. (she wants to hit 150), says she really gets her money’s worth with her nutritionist’s 24-hour hotline. “I’ve called lots of times when I was at a restaurant and didn’t know what to order,” says Edgerton, adding, “Once you get started on weight loss, you can never go back to what you used to eat.”

NOW! 165 lbs.

SIZE 8

THEN 340 lbs.

SIZE 28

SHE DID IT FOR $70,000!

HER BIG INVESTMENT: THE RICE DIET PROGRAM IN DURHAM, N.C.

In her early 30s, Susan Blech started to wrestle with feelings about her mother, who suffered a stroke when Blech was a baby and wound up a quadriplegic. “I couldn’t stand my rage,” says Blech, 41, a paralegal. “So I’d eat donuts. And then I started eating more and more.” In 2003 Blech hit 468 lbs.—but it wasn’t until her doctor told her, “You’re so heavy you could have a stroke,” prompting memories of her mom, that Blech realized, “I had to change my entire life.” So she moved from Long Island to Durham, N.C., where she enrolled in the Rice Diet Program, an outpatient weight loss clinic. Blech was placed on a low-sodium diet that restricted her to 1,000 calories a day; she also hired a personal trainer and took Pilates classes. Her total weight-loss cost for the 30 months she spent in Durham? A whopping $70,000, which she paid for by working three jobs and taking on $25,000 in debt. Still, says the 5’8″ Blech, who is down to 227 lbs. and just signed up for Weight Watchers, it was worth every cent: “I have a whole life ahead of me now.”

NOW! 227 lbs.

SIZE 14-16

THEN 468 lbs.

SIZE 38

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