PEOPLE's Half Their Size Winners
THEN: 318 LBS.
For decades, food "was only about what tasted good," says the Wheatley Heights, N.Y., resident, whose diet mainly included "lots of bread and pasta and bagels and pizza." "You get used to being seen as invisible or not worthy so it colors your entire personality." says the 58-year-old.
NOW: 133 LBS.
Thanks to working with a personal trainer and keeping a food journal, coupled with acupuncture and tips from Dr. Phil's The Ultimate Weight Solution, Lazinsky shed 185 lbs. off her 5'3" frame. "I can cross my legs!" she says of her new shape. "I can do anything. I believe in myself now."
THEN: 263 LBS.
After the 38-year-old mom of three received a hypothyroidism diagnosis, a combination of thyroid medication and intense cravings for junk food resulted in a 100-lb. weight gain in four months. "One day I had to trudge through snow and I thought I was going to die," says Stauffacher, who runs a farm in Cuba City, Wis.
NOW: 132 LBS.
Now the 5'9" Stauffacher is down 131 lbs., thanks to Jenny Craig's program – and lots of running. "I have so much energy," she says. "We have three farms and I will run between them. The farthest one is six miles."
THEN: 350 LBS.
"I think my hobby was food … I was constantly eating and it was mindless eating," the 31-year-old Washington, D.C., resident tells PEOPLE of his lifetime struggle with weight. "It was becoming a crutch to be heavy because it was an excuse not to just be more visible and not be more present to things."
NOW: 175 LBS.
Seaton's habits began to change when he moved to the D.C. area and joined a gym. "I went to that gym every single day and I said I'm going to wake up an hour earlier and I'm gonna give that gym 45 minutes every day," says the 5'11" Seaton, who is now prepping for his second half-marathon. "I made a promise to myself and I'm really glad that I kept it."
THEN: 256 LBS.
"Chips, cookies and ice cream" were among the culprits for Samuels, 24, of Federal Way, Wash., who said she relied on "a junk food diet" even though her family encouraged healthy eating and exercise. When she was at her heaviest during senior year of high school, Samuels admits, "I just felt like a failure."
NOW: 135 LBS.
Samuels started going to the gym, learned about portion sizes and began following a vegan diet – all of which helped her drop 121 lbs. from her 5’8” frame. The newlywed now enjoys workouts with her husband and blogged about her journey along the way.
THEN: 263 LBS.
The weight gain happened slowly but steadily for the 31-year-old, who says hitting puberty early caused her to put on about 10 lbs. each year over a decade. "I got this idea in my head that I was already fat because I weighed maybe like 120 lbs. and my friends weighed like 80 because they hadn't hit puberty," she says.
NOW: 127 LBS.
Ekstrom's life was changed by two big events: her mother's recurrence of cancer, which kick-started her family to focus on eating healthy, and adopting an energetic Border collie. Now the Spencer, Mass., resident, who has shed 136 lbs. off her 5'6" frame, says, "I found that I loved fitness."
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