JUDITH ANTHONY, 26
ERIN BANKS, 32
EDWIN VELEZ, 28
KATEY DYCK, 34
LORI FILIPIAK, 42
Erin Banks, 32
WENT THROUGH A 24-PACK OF SODA IN TWO DAYS
I was very sick as a little kid. Stomach problems kept me in and out of the hospital, and I had to stop physical activities. After a divorce in my early 20s, I hit bottom at 230 lbs. Even though I had a son to care for, I gave up on everything. I ate cookies for breakfast and fast food for lunch and dinner. One day I woke up and could not move my legs. An old injury had resurfaced because I was so heavy. My parents had to drag me out of the house to get me to the hospital. After I came home I tried many diets before a friend introduced me to Nutrisystem. The food was amazing, and I was never hungry. I lost 110 lbs. in 13 months, and I maintain my weight by eating six small meals a day. I remember standing in front of the mirror crying my eyes out because it was actually working. I’m still trying to accept myself, but I’ve come a long way.
LOST: 110 lbs.
HOMETOWN: MIRAMAR BEACH, Fla.
What She Eats
4 egg whites with ½ cup spinach, 1 slice of sprouted-grain bread, ¼ cup fruit, coffee
A protein shake and a medium banana
2.5 oz. lean chicken, 1 cup of mixed veggies
A protein bar
2.5 oz. lean turkey, 1 cup of greens
4 egg whites with mushrooms and onions and 1 cup of asparagus
SHAPE-UP TIPS THAT REALLY WORK
“Set a realistic goal,” says Anthony. “Even if you want to lose 15 lbs., try dropping just 1 lb. a week. When you see the scale go down, you feel good. It motivates you and makes you want to continue.”
“Find ways to reward yourself that aren’t food-related,” says Banks. “If you lose 5 lbs., treat yourself to that pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing.” And always keep a “Before” photo for inspiration, she adds.
Make good choices
“Pay attention to the quality and quantity of what you eat,” says Dyck. “Try to prepare most of your own food.” While it’s okay to treat yourself, “don’t let overindulgence ease its way back into your life.”
Ask for support
“It was really important for me to sit down with my parents and let them know I was serious about losing weight,” says Velez. “Be open and honest with family and ask for help in avoiding temptations.”
Katey Dyck, 34
ATE A TUBE OF RAW COOKIE DOUGH FOR A SNACK
Growing up I called myself a vegetarian, but I was more like a junk-food-atarian. When my husband deployed to Iraq in 2005, I spent a year eating carb-heavy takeout because I missed him so much. After I had my second child in 2009, I hit 243 lbs. and realized if something happened to me, my children wouldn’t even remember me. So I cut out complex carbs, ate more white meat, kept a food journal and learned to cook. Now I eat mostly veggies and lean proteins. I stay away from sugar—or I will eat an entire tray of brownies! I work out six days a week, incorporating cardio, weight training and the Insanity program. I feel fit and strong for the first time—it’s incredibly empowering.
LOST: 107 lbs.
HOMETOWN: FORT WASHINGTON, Pa.
OCCUPATION: STAY-AT-HOME MOM OF 2
What She Eats
2 egg whites scrambled with fresh spinach, plus coffee with sugar-free French vanilla creamer
3 oz. baked turkey breast with raw veggies: cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, celery sticks and bell peppers
String cheese or ¼ cup roasted almonds
Salad with 3 cups of arugula, 2 oz. feta cheese, 3 oz. shredded chicken, half an avocado, 10 cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, red onion, sunflower seeds and chia seeds with 3 tbsp. light Caesar dressing
Judith Anthony, 26
CONSUMED 6 BAGS OF CHIPS A DAY
I never realized I had an issue with weight until my senior prom. Nothing in the stores fit me, so I had to get a dress custom-made. By the time I got to college, I weighed 220 lbs. For lunch I’d have a double cheeseburger with bacon and six or seven bags of chips. And after two helpings of dinner, I would bring a pint of ice cream back to my dorm. Three years later, during an annual physical, my doctor recommended gastric bypass surgery. My heart skipped a few beats. Two people in my family had already had the surgery, but I wanted to take a different route. So I joined Jenny Craig and started doing Zumba. At first I could only make it through a few minutes of the class. Now I work out five days a week—and can even run! I do have a few stretch marks, but when I look in the mirror I don’t even see that. I just see how awesome I look.
LOST: 117 lbs.
HOMETOWN: ORANGE, N.J.
OCCUPATION: OVERNIGHT SUPPORT COUNSELOR
What She Eats
2 scrambled egg whites and 1 yolk with tomatoes and peppers, ½ grapefruit
1 fat-free Greek yogurt
Stir-fry with brown rice, tofu, broccoli, peppers, mushrooms, plus ¾ cup of pineapple
1 cup nonfat cottage cheese. Plus, Jenny’s Cuisine kettle corn
Soy chicken patty, plus 1 cup of frozen green beans, 1 cup roasted potatoes and peppers
Edwin Velez, 28
ATE 3 DOUBLE CHEESEBURGERS AT A TIME
I was a big kid. I’m Puerto Rican, so we always had fried chicken, rice, beans and plantains at home. But it was in college when I hit my heaviest, over 300 lbs. Money was tight, fast food was cheap, and I was scared of the gym. After going on a cruise where I stuck out like a sore thumb, I set a goal to lose 100 lbs. before spring break. I got up early every morning to exercise, I ate clean, cut portions and prepped my food in advance. After losing 101 lbs. in four months, I started lifting weights to build muscle. To keep the weight off, I eat five small meals a day. Last year I rewarded myself with skin-removal surgery. I also decided to enter a fitness competition—I was so nervous that my legs were shaking! But it was a real accomplishment.
LOST: 149 lbs.
HOMETOWN: ALBERTVILLE, Ala.
What He Eats
Veggie omelet made with 5 egg whites and ½ cup of oatmeal
Medium apple with PB2 (all-natural peanut butter) with protein shake or 4 oz. turkey
6 oz. tilapia with 5 oz. sweet potatoes or ½ cup of brown rice
6 oz. grilled chicken, veggies and rice cake with PB2
8 oz. tilapia with veggies or in a salad
Lori Filipiak, 42
DUNKED AN ENTIRE PIZZA IN ONION DIP
Growing up I was the only fat person I knew. Being bullied turned me into a comfort eater—the more kids made fun of me, the more I would binge. I’d eat a whole pepperoni pizza soaked in French onion dip. It took a toll on my self-esteem, as did a bad marriage when I was 19. When my ex finally left, I laced up my sneakers and never looked back. I started walking twice a day and rode my parents’ stationary bike. I lost 100 lbs. in the next five years by swapping red meat, fried foods and sugary snacks for whole-grain rice, chicken and vegetables. When I remarried in 2004 and had kids, I made it a priority to exercise through both pregnancies. Now I work out at home six days a week using videos like kickboxing and P90x—my kids even do them with me! When I suffer small setbacks, I tell myself it’s okay. Tomorrow is a new day.
LOST: 119 lbs.
HOMETOWN: SPRINGFIELD, Ill.
What She Eats
1/3 cup oatmeal with berries and 3 egg whites plus 1 yolk
Organic rice cake with almond butter
Grilled chicken with roasted string beans and sweet potato
Watermelon with arugula topped with Greek yogurt and spicy mustard dressing
Grilled salmon with roasted brussels sprouts and cauliflower
Popcorn popped in coconut oil and seasoned with sea salt