From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
Christina Cores

AGE 22 | HEIGHT 5'6"

HOMETOWN MEDINAH, ILL.

WAS 240 LBS. I NOW 118 LBS.

LOST 122 LBS.

WHY SHE OVERATE

"In eighth grade my dad passed away, and my mom moved me to a different school. With all these changes, my only comfort was food. By high school I was so overweight I couldn't cross my legs. Girls ganged up on me and said, 'She's so fat!' At school I skipped lunch so no one could see me eat. Once I got home, I'd eat cookies and ice cream."

HER TURNING POINT

"For homecoming I couldn't find dresses in my size. I was like, 'I can't live like this.' I started bringing turkey sandwiches for lunch. I worked out at Curves and lost over 100 lbs. When I got down to my last 10 lbs., I needed a support system, so I got on sparkpeople.com [an online weight-loss community]. It was so inspirational."

HER LIFE NOW

"If someone told me I was going to be in a beauty pageant, I would have laughed, but this past year I thought I would give it a shot. I felt beautiful and confident."

my best tip

GET INSPIRED

"On nights when I had a cookie craving, I'd grab a bottle of water and go online to read success stories."

Denise Giesbers

AGE 32 | HEIGHT 5'7"

HOMETOWN FOREST GROVE, ORE.

WAS 304 LBS. | NOW 152 LBS.

LOST 152 LBS.

THE URGES SHE COULDN'T CONTROL

"My weight was something I always struggled with. With my first pregnancy, I was over 220 lbs. I got up to 280 lbs. with my second. I was into the salty, fried foods. I craved french fries and chips."

HER TURNING POINT

"In August 2008 my husband [Brent, 52] told me, 'I'm afraid you're going to die on me.' It was a big wake-up call. That day I got on Medifast. [She is now a health coach for the program.] I learned how to preplan my meals, and I transitioned from regular soda to diet."

HER LIFE NOW

"There are so many things I do now with my family that I wasn't able to fully do before. Going to a movie, I'm not self-conscious, wondering what the person next to me is thinking. Before, people always mistook me for being older than I am, but now they mistake me for being younger!"

my best tip

PREPARE FOR THE MUNCHIES

"I stash protein bars in my purse, car, even different coats! Then I have something to fill me up if I don't expect to be out."

Josephine Reed

AGE 34 | HEIGHT 5'1"

HOMETOWN MATTESON, ILL.

WAS 270 LBS. | NOW 114 LBS.

LOST 156 LBS.

HER PROBLEM

"I started having a weight issue in college. Late-night snacking was my worst habit. I was a pizza fanatic."

HER TURNING POINT

"Two years ago I hit 270 lbs. I was miserable. I'm a nurse, and I wore scrubs all the time-even when I wasn't working!-so people couldn't tell if I gained. When the doctor said he was going to put me on high blood pressure pills, I went to Jenny Craig the next day. The first week was the hardest: I sat in my car and cried; I was so hungry."

HER LIFE NOW

"After I lost 80 lbs. I bought my first pair of skinny jeans. Before, I avoided people. Now I'm a social butterfly!"

my best tip

WRITE IT DOWN

"Journaling worked for me. I would write what I ate and how I felt before and afterward."

Dallas Carter

AGE 28 | HEIGHT 5'10"

HOMETOWN MILILANI, HAWAII

WAS 365 LBS. | NOW 177 LBS.

LOST 188 LBS.

HIS SECRET SHAME

"My story is one of cheating on my wife [Monica, 29]-but with food. In the morning she would make eggs and orange juice, but on the way to work, I would stop at a drive-thru and get three breakfast sandwiches because I was still hungry. After dinner I'd tell my wife I was going to a side job, but I would go eat a plate of chicken with gobs of white rice and macaroni salad. She had no clue."

HIS TURNING POINT

"When my first child [Mariah, now 4] was born, my body was so big that I couldn't hold the baby close to me. That was an aha moment. I started eating five small meals a day and worked out with the video series P90X."

HIS LIFE NOW

"I do a video every day and run eight miles. I was once the fat guy who laughed at himself. Now I'm in the best shape of my life."

my best tip

ALWAYS TURN TO SALAD

"When I finished eating but still wanted more, I allowed myself a plate of salad."

Sheri Cameron

AGE 28 | HEIGHT 5'5"

HOMETOWN LIBERTY, S.C.

WAS 349 LBS. | NOW 145 LBS.

LOST 204 LBS.

HER BREAKING POINT

"I ate whatever I wanted, however much I wanted. Over the years the pounds kept packing on. Just walking up steps was difficult, and I have broken three plastic chairs! Finally I joined Weight Watchers in 2007. I learned portion control and lost 4 lbs. in my first week. I kept losing steadily."

HOW SHE REWARDS HERSELF

"When I lost 50 lbs., I got a tennis racket and started playing. When I got under 200, I got a bicycle. When I got to half my size, my husband [Tommy, 34] and I took dance lessons because he's always wanted to dance with me, and I always turned him down. No one wants to see all that fat wiggling around! Then we had a party and danced a waltz in front of 75 guests."

HER LIFE NOW

"Sometimes I still don't recognize myself. I have never been small. I'm living the life I always dreamed about!"

my best tip

RECRUIT HELP

"I wasn't a self-motivator, so I went to a good friend and her husband who exercise and asked, 'Can I work out with you?' I was always surrounded by friends; they were so encouraging."

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