JAIME STOVALL: THEN 290 LBS.
“There were a few events that triggered my weight gain,” says the Phoenix native. “I had two kids and was going to school, and my marriage wasn’t a happy one. I was stressed, and I let myself go. But then I got divorced, and I realized I was a single parent now and I needed to be healthy for my [two] kids.
JAMIE STOVALL: NOW 135 LBS.!
The 27-year-old biomedical engineer started out small – parking her car further away from her destination and taking the stairs. “Now I try to eat healthy and work out every day – if I’m going to watch TV, I have to be on the elliptical – so that it’s a routine,” she says. “And it worked!”
DAVID KEENAN: THEN 360 LBS.
“I felt like I was being judged all the time,” says the Hacienda Heights, Calif., bartender who always struggled with his weight. Keenan decided to make a change in early 2003. “I went to the doctor for an earache and he told me I was too fat,” he says. “I felt such an immense sense of shame.”
DAVID KEENAN: NOW 180 LBS.!
“My sister told me about the Power 90 workout tapes [a 90-day, circuit-training boot camp], and I started in March 2003,” says Keenan, 26. “Later I did other workout DVDs – Slim in 6, and P90X. When I first started, pull-ups seemed impossible to me; I couldn’t do any. Now I can do 15 in a row. That’s an amazing thing.”
CRISTINA TAVERAS: THEN 326 LBS.
“In high school I liked that I was bigger, because no one would push me around,” says the Cape Coral, Fla., resident, 30. “But that changed when I noticed that everyone else had a boyfriend – I never had anyone say to me, ‘I think you’re cute.'”
CRISTINA TAVERAS: NOW 148 LBS.!
To prove to her sister that she could lose weight, Taveras, a medical assistant, joined eDiets.com in 2007 – and lost 2 lbs. in her first week. “My ultimate goal was to be able to look good in jeans, and now I own 25 pairs! Wearing them is the best feeling ever.”
WENDY ECK: THEN 328 LBS.
The mom of two says she lived on junk food and “drank nothing but soda” until a trip to Disney World in 2008. “I couldn’t ride any of the rides, and I could barely walk around,” says Eck, 40.
WENDY ECK: NOW 145 LBS.!
She joined Nutrisystem, and now “I actually love salad,” says the Barto, Pa., shipping manager, who works out on a treadmill, bike and elliptical trainer every day for 80 minutes. “Before, it was a nightmare to shop. The best thing is, anything I want to buy fits!”
BRANDY BLACKBURN: THEN 340 LBS.
The Charlottesville, Va., mom was “a fat kid” in kindergarten. “I was an emotional eater; if I had a bad day, I took solace in cookies and junk food,” says Blackburn, 25. “By the time I was in high school, the only way I could wear the brand names like all the other kids was to get an XXL from the guy’s section!”
BRANDY BLACKBURN: NOW 163 LBS.!
After her husband expressed concern for her health, Blackburn began working out at Gold’s Gym and joined SparkPeople.com, downloading their calorie-counting iPhone app. “Recently I went to a company dinner with my husband, and one of his coworkers didn’t recognize me – he thought my husband had remarried!”
For more amazing weight-loss stories, pick up the new PEOPLE, on newsstands now.