updated 02/02/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/02/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

It was so refreshing to open this issue and read your cover "Half Their Size" about real people who have battled weight problems and won through their determination and dedication. As the mother of three who works and is overweight, I salute the eight champions you featured and credit their stories as the final nudge I needed.
Kate Eberle
Cameron, N.C.

My eyes welled up as I read your article because I saw so much of myself in each of these people. I've lost 121 lbs. and have gone from 310 to 189 lbs. in the past 18 months. The stories about Cristy McAdams, Marcy Jolly and the others have inspired me to keep going and not give up.
Irene Unger
Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.

Anyone can spend a fortune on liposuction or plastic surgery and look great, but these people reached within themselves and did what it took to change their lives. Thanks, PEOPLE, for sending the positive message that you can look good by exercising along with some discipline and self-control.
Crissy Fattore
Levittown, Pa.

Hurray! I just picked up your eagerly awaited annual cover. These are really real folks who lost through hard work. I, too, am one of them. I'm now in my sixth year of weight-loss dedication. At 43, I'm one hot woman, and the heat is only going to get higher!
Mary Angela Podjun
Gaines, Mich.

Although I enjoyed your article, I was thoroughly disappointed with the slant of your story with statements like "real people" and "the hard way." It's obvious you have no sensitivity to the thousands of people who have chosen other alternatives to weight loss because of medical or personal reasons. It's exactly this kind of attitude that makes it difficult for some of us who have chosen gastric bypass surgery to live our lives without the stigma attached. I had this procedure, dropped 110 lbs., and there was nothing easy about it.
Cindy Nordgren
Lake Stevens, Wash.

Finally, a truly inspirational cover story about real people who lost weight the old-fashioned way, by eating less and moving more. Their stories adorn my fridge to help motivate me.
Sue Thomas
Sudbury, Ont.

Your article about Trista and Ryan's honeymoon reported "no crews, no lights, no TV cameras." But it looked like these two have no idea how to be a couple without posing for the camera. Not only did we see pictures of their honeymoon, but we also got to see the matching-pajamas twosome open presents on Christmas morning. What's next? Watching them go for their first ob/gyn appointment?
Amanda Gedmin
Frankfort, Ill.

Thanks for such a wonderful feature on Henri Landwirth and the Give Kids the World Village. My 9-year-old son Tyler, who passed away from cystic fibrosis, loved the village. We were treated like royalty, and the experience will remain close to our hearts. They helped make Tyler's dreams come true and the final weeks of his life the happiest through their caring and generosity.
Kerstain A. McWhorter
Anaheim, Calif.

Let me get this straight: Emma Thompson is fighting for the release of her new film Imagining Argentina because "we really ought to take a look at why, when innocent people are being dragged from their homes, there wasn't more fuss made." But then she later says in the interview she "passionately" opposes the war in Iraq. I guess Thompson doesn't view Saddam as a military dictator or she chooses to ignore the thousands found in mass graves. Perhaps she thinks too much "fuss" has been made.
Robin Clouse
Lake Worth, Fla.

Am I supposed to be impressed that the cast of Friends bought their crew members $249 Palm Pilot devices as holiday presents? With their current salaries, that's the equivalent of me buying my staff members $2.49 sandwiches as holiday gifts.
Ronald Hirsch
Elgin, Ill.

From Our Partners