The Biggest Loser Ever

UPDATED 12/21/2009 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 12/21/2009 at 01:00 AM EST

BIGGEST LOSER: Danny Cahill

AGE: 40

STARTING WEIGHT: 430 lbs.

It had become a Christmas ritual: In early December land surveyor Danny Cahill would pull out the lights to decorate his Broken Arrow, Okla., home . . . and send his wife out to hang them. "She had to do it because I was too big—there were no ladders that held me," Cahill recalls. "It was depressing." But the 5'11" Cahill is in for a happy holiday: After making Biggest Loser history by losing a stunning 239 lbs. to be crowned Season 8 winner (the old record was 214 lbs., set by Erik Chopin in Season 3), "I'm excited to get home and wire up the house for the whole world to see!" he says. What's already unmissable is Cahill's unprecedented transformation: Having lost more than half his size ("I was a 56-in. waist; now I'm a 34!" he says), Cahill runs up to 12 miles at a stretch and goes biking and camping with son David, 10, and daughter Mary Claire, 8. In fact his weight loss has inspired his entire family: Not only do the children attend a kids' workout program at the local gym, his wife, Darci, 39, has lost 60 lbs. How do they plan to celebrate their new physiques? By renewing their wedding vows next September. "We have not slow-danced with our feet next to each other in years!" Cahill says. "Now we can."

SEASON 8 CHAMPION! NOW 191 LBS.

BEFORE 430 LBS.

THE OTHER FINALISTS

LIZ YOUNG, 49

As fans cheered Young on, they also worried about her marriage, which she questioned on the show. "I don't want America to think Jimmie and I are headed to divorce court," says the 5'7" saleswoman from Chapel Hill, Tenn. Instead, the couple will tackle issues as she did her weight: head-on. "We realize what our problems are," she says. "It's going to take time."

NOW 176 LBS.!

BEFORE 267 LBS.

RUDY PAULS, 31

Before he started on Loser, the 6'4" Brooklyn, Conn., engineer suffered from sleep apnea so severe, "I snored like a freight train!" says Pauls, who often spent the night on the couch "to give my wife a break." But now that he's down 234 lbs., "All that weight I carried in my neck is gone," he says. "I'm rested when I wake up, and I feel great."

NOW 208 LBS.!

BEFORE 442 LBS.

AMANDA ARLAUSKAS, 20

The patient-care technician from Butler, N.J., admits her weight gain resulted from "my own lack of control"—and that it was trainer Jillian Michaels who got her to take charge. "She was like a therapist," says the 5'6" Arlauskas, who had struggled with confidence. "She helped bring my problems to the surface to help me get past them."

NOW 163 LBS.!

BEFORE 250 LBS.

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