December 24, 2014 03:30 PM

Carlos Romero and Patty Pena overcame major obstacles in their lives to lose a combined 357 lbs. and become two of PEOPLE’s Half Their Size weight loss winners.

Romero went from 437 to 212 lbs. after being diagnosed in 2012 with Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy, the most prevalent form of the condition.

“I decided I wanted to lose the weight and become a parathlete,” said Romero, now a national paraclimbing champion who also lifts weights. “It was scary, but it motivates me to be the best version of myself and teach others to do the same.”

Pena, who was stuck with the childhood stigma of “always” being “a bigger kid,” refuses to let her children follow the same path.

“I always signed up for every gimmick, fad, pill, powder, tea – you name it – and not one worked,” said Pena, who lost 132 lbs. by getting her family involved. “I just started to move more your fitness regimen doesn’t have to be just for you … include your kids.”

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

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