We Are Struggling

updated 07/06/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/06/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

SIX-MONTH UPDATE

NURSE'S AIDE JAMIE MACARAEG STUCK AT 167 LBS.

BEFORE 183 LBS.

BEFORE 256 LBS.

BUS DRIVER GREG NOVOA STUCK AT 235 LBS.

GREG NOVOA

WHAT WENT WRONG
Because Novoa, 31, lost 20 lbs. in four months playing basketball nearly every day, he didn't think he needed to count calories. But when he pulled a muscle and couldn't exercise, "I learned it doesn't work that way," he says.

GETTING BACK ON TRACK
Novoa now keeps a food journal and researches restaurant meals in his CalorieKing book. "I thought I knew what I was eating," he says. "But until I wrote down the calories, I really didn't."

Since keeping a food log, Novoa has gone from about 3,000 calories a day to 2,000.

"It's harder than I thought it would be"
—GREG NOVOA

THE REST OF THE PACK

COOK
REBECCA SKROBACK
Started at: 221 lbs.
Now at: 175 lbs.

Down an impressive 46 lbs., she says the key has been to snack regularly on fruits and veggies, and when sampling her dishes, "I do it in very limited quantities."

TRUCK DRIVER
GIORDANO MAURO-RHODIO
Started at: 286 lbs.
Now at: 280 lbs.

Since his truck broke down in May, "I've been stressed," he says—and overeating: He regained 4 lbs. in the last month. "I'm trying to do my best."

JAMIE MACARAEG

WHAT WENT WRONG
After losing 16 lbs. in four months, the pediatric ER nurse, 29, was hit by a month of "high stress" in which she got a new puppy and had several relatives visit. "I wasn't getting a lot of workouts in," she says. Or dinners. "I was tired, and the last thing I want to do is cook. So sometimes I would go to bed not eating—and then go into starvation mode."

GETTING BACK ON TRACK
Macaraeg now stocks her freezer with prepackaged meals like pork tenderloin and veggies that she reheats at home. "It only takes eight minutes!" she says. And she says a combo yoga-Pilates-tai-chi class not only burns calories but also helps her "de-stress."

"I'm not down as much as I'd like"
—JAMIE MACARAEG

HER BIG DIET CHANGE
Macaraeg has given up most carbs but allows herself corn tortillas and rice with her sushi to keep from "getting in a rut."

THE REST OF THE PACK

SHERIFF'S DEPUTY
NOEL GARCIA
Started at: 329 lbs.
Now at: 279 lbs.

Feeling good after shedding 50 lbs., he's now training for a 10k race in September. He has also ordered a smaller uniform, because "I'm swimming in my old one!" he says.

CAB DRIVER
YVONNE BERETTA
Started at: 306 lbs.
Now at: 250 lbs.

She has lost a whopping 56 lbs. by bringing homemade meals on her 12-hour shifts and fitting in hour-long workouts four times a week. "I haven't lost my focus," she says.

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