Shrinking Idols

updated 03/16/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 03/16/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

2008

FANTASIA
LOST 20 LBS.

The season 3 winner, 24, lost 20 lbs. by "working out every day," she says, and sticking with big salads instead of faves like mac and cheese and sweet tea. "It's hard because I'm a country girl," she says. "But I can't have 'em!"

2004

DIANA DEGARMO
LOST 30 LBS.

With a "common sense" diet full of veggies, brown rice, fish and chicken, DeGarmo, 21, went from a size 10 to a 6. Today she allows herself some splurges, but "I won't eat a lot of pizza—just one slice and a salad," she says.

2006

MANDISA
LOST 75 LBS.

After years of "living on fast food," she says, Mandisa, 32, started working out five times a week and eating smaller meals with more fruits and veggies. Now, with her album Freedom due in March, she says, "I feel confident in the way I look."

2005

JOSH GRACIN
LOST 57 LBS.

Josh Gracin, 28, says deprivation diets worked short-term, "but then I'd gain it all back." So in 2007 he decided instead of dropping his favorite foods, he'd up his exercise. "Do I have cupcakes all the time? No," he says. "But as far as meat, eggs and cheeses? If you work out, it's okay."

2008

CARLY SMITHSON
LOST 40 LBS.

"My weight crept up on me," admits Smithson, 25, who reached 170 lbs. last year during Idol. Now she watches portions, avoids bread and works out to Denise Austin DVDs 45 minutes a day. The best part? "I know I'm doing something simple to maintain," she says.

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