Christina Cores, 22, was relegated to shopping at plus-size stores by the age of 15, after she reached her highest weight of 240 lbs. as a sophomore in high school. Working out at Curves and joining SparkPeople.com, an online weight loss community, helped her gain the courage to enter a beauty pageant this past year. "I feel beautiful," says Cores, "and confident."
Josephine Reed, 34, decided enough was enough when her doctor told her she had to go on high blood pressure pills. "I thought, 'No way,' " says Reed, who weighed 270 lbs. at her heaviest. Reed, a nurse, immediately joined Jenny Craig, which helped her lose a whopping 156 lbs. – and transformed her life, too. "I was so shy," says the 114-lb. Illinois native. "Now I'll talk to anybody! I feel like I'm able to be me now."
See amazing before-and-after photos of Cores and more regular people who shed more than 600 lbs. together in our Half Their Size gallery.
For more on Christina, Josephine and the other inspiring weight-loss role models – including a pair of twins, a husband and wife team and a woman who lost weight with the help of her office – pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday