December 23, 2014 03:30 PM

Forget the fancy diets and insane exercise plans.

Two of PEOPLE’s Half Their Size weight loss winners say they simply implemented little changes over time to lose a whopping 394 lbs. between them.

“I just winged it,” says Mark Bryant, 40, a father-of-three who began his weight-loss journey after a health scare at 442 lbs.

Bryant said an online calorie counter revealed he needed to eat 5,500 calories a day to maintain that weight, so he simply cut down on his daily calorie intake and was motivated to keep going once he saw results.

He cut back to 4,000 calories, then 3,700, then added in more vegetable and protein and began an exercise routine at the gym – lifting weights because “I hate cardio … I can’t do hours on end on the treadmill.”

He dropped a remarkable 264 lbs. to weigh in at 178 lbs. – and happily admits he still goes to McDonald’s.

“I still – several nights a week – go to McDonald’s and get the little ice cream cone. It’s 170 calories and solves my craving rather than eating a massive bowl of it.”

Conner Rensch, 25, says she’s been following the 80/20 rule to shed 130 lbs. now weighing in at 141 lbs.

“You have to give yourself those moments, otherwise you’ll go crazy,” says Rensch, who switched from eating huge portions to six small meals a day.

Feeling confident, the single Omaha-based hairdresser says her New Year’s resolution is to find a man in 2015 – and it looks like she’ll have no trouble.

“People tend to judge you when you’re overweight,” she says. “I want people to see me and not see my weight.”

For more amazing transformations, diet tips that really work and the hottest Hollywood slimdowns, check out PEOPLE’s Half Their Size issue, on newsstands Tuesday

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