The Most Inspiring Weight Loss Stories of 2012

These 10 people transformed their bodies--and their lives--by losing weight

November 28, 2012
inspiring weight loss success stories
1/20 Danuta Otfinowski; Patrick James Miller; Kenny Braun

Of the dozens of inspiring weight loss tales we've compiled this year, we've selected our favorites to revisit. As these 10 real people slimmed down--shedding as many as 300 pounds--they also overcame life-threatening illnesses, racked up fitness achievements, and discovered the power of their own resolve. (Related: 10 Weight Loss Tricks That Work) Keep their powerful stories in mind as you take aim at your own health goals in 2013.

Tone up and slim down with just 15 minutes of exercise a day using the Women's Health or Men's Health 15-Minute Workout DVDs!

Gina Dean before
2/20 Photograph courtesy of Gina Dean
Fried, fattening foods took her weight to 250 pounds

As a freshman in college, Gina Dean gained the freshman 15--times three. "Mountain Dew was like my water," she remembers. (Search: How many calories are in soda?) In the following years she continued to pile on weight, until one day the scale flashed 250 pounds.

Free Guide: Cut 500 Calories!

Gina Dean after
3/20 Photograph courtesy of Gina Dean
Now she can shop in the junior’s section!

When Gina's grandmother passed away, some soul-searching inspired her to make lifestyle changes that stuck. Tossing junk food and logging miles on the treadmill helped her lose 105 pounds and about 10 pants sizes.

Find out how she did it!

Bryan Ganey before
4/20 Photograph courtesy of Bryan Ganey
At 577 pounds, his life was in danger

After a lifetime of poor dietary habits, Bryan Ganey's weight rocketed to an astonishing 577 pounds. Pretty soon he landed in the hospital with a pulmonary embolism. "I realized I could die at any minute because of my extreme obesity. I knew it was time to take action," he recalls.

Video: Lose Weight--Without Dieting!

Bryan Ganey after
5/20 Photograph courtesy of Bryan Ganey
Now he’s off most of his medications

Bryan ignored advice from doctors to have weight-loss surgery, and instead dropped pounds the old-fashioned way--with a low-fat, low sodium diet and an exercise plan that started with practicing basic movements like walking to the end of his driveway. Today, his weight is down to 239 pounds, and he continues to lose more. Additionally, Bryan went from 10 medications to just one. "Instead of getting bad news when I go to the doctor, I have a positive experience," he says.

Find out how he did it!

Krystal Sanders before
6/20 Photograph courtesy of Krystal Sanders
Her wedding pictures made her cry

Krystal Sanders had always hovered around a size 14, but stress eating brought on by wedding planning had her in an 18 by her big day. When she received her wedding photos, she didn't want anyone to see them. "I looked at the pictures alone and I cried," Krystal says. "It was a reality punch in the face. I was embarrassed that I'd let myself get that large."

One Year to a Fit, Healthy Wedding

Krystal Sanders after
7/20 Kenny Braun
She no longer runs away from the camera

Krystal began cooking healthier versions of her favorite restaurant meals at home. She also began jogging on her treadmill and completing DVD strength workouts. Over the course of a year, she went from 185 pounds to her goal weight of 130. Today, she clocks in at a svelte 120. ""I'm finally at peace with the way I look," she says.

Find out how she did it!

Caryn and Michele Haberman before
8/20 Courtesy of the Haberman's
Unhealthy habits made this mom and daughter gain

Caryn Haberman and her daughter Michele grew accustomed to meals on the go and little physical activity. Over time Caryn's weight crept up to 400 pounds and Michele's reached 260. Finally, Caryn scheduled lap band surgery--but cancelled it when she realized she'd never truly made an effort to lose the weight on her own. Shortly after, Michele followed suit.

15 Low-Fat Foods That Can Make You Gain

Michele and Caryn Haberman after
9/20 Courtesy of the Habermans
Now they’re 321 pounds lighter!

The mom-and-daughter duo learned portion control with the help of Weight Watchers, and took up Zumba and walking together. Caryn melted off 209 pounds and Michele lost 112.

Find out how they did it!

Amanda Arteaga before
10/20 Courtesy of Amanda Arteaga
She was tired of being heavy, exhausted, and unhappy

Amanda Arteaga's weight shot up to 327 pounds, largely the result of emotional eating brought on by an abusive relationship. She faced health problems ranging from chronic headaches to high cholesterol, and a doctor told her that, at 30, she had the body of a 60-year-old.

10 Weight Loss Myths That Pack on the Pounds

Amanda Arteaga after
11/20 Photograph courtesy of Amanda Arteaga
Now she no longer shops in the plus-size section

With a regular walking routine and 1,500-calorie diet, Amanda knocked off 114 pounds. Along with her slimmer figure, she sports newfound energy and confidence.

Find out how she did it!

Joe Lopez before
12/20 Photograph courtesy of Joe Lopez
He worried that nobody would hire a “fat personal trainer”

Once a standout high school baseball, football, and basketball player, Joe Lopez put on about 80 pounds during and after college, eventually tipping the scale to 295 pounds. The certified strength and conditioning specialist began to wonder if people would avoid hiring him because of his weight.

Personal Trainers' Top Pet Peeves

Joe Lopez after
13/20 Patrick James Miller
Now he feels like an athlete again

Joe got back into a cardio routine and began tracking his meals on a smartphone app. In the process he shed 110 pounds and now feels confident promoting himself as a personal trainer.

Find out how he did it!

Andi Guthrie before
14/20 Courtesy of Andi Guthrie
She put on more than 100 pounds

Between two pregnancies and a bout with thyroid cancer, Andi Guthrie, a former cheerleader, packed on nearly 150 pounds in her adult years. She topped out at 274 pounds, and struggled to find the energy to play with her young granddaughter.

They're Fighting Cancer with Fitness!

Andi Guthrie after
15/20 Photograph courtesy of Andi Guthrie
Now she teaches fitness classes

A 12-week weight loss program was Andi's ticket to a slimmer waistline. In addition to whittling her weight down to 190 pounds, Andi fell in love with exercising. She currently teaches boot camp classes and is on track to become a certified personal trainer.

Find out how she did it!

Tracey Dickson before
16/20 Photograph courtesy of Tracey Dickson
Breast cancer derailed her fitness goals

For most of her life, Tracey Dickson was probably healthier than most people. She taught fitness classes and ran about 20 miles a week. This all changed when doctors found a cancerous lump in her breast. To cope with her emotions, Tracey began overeating and stopped exercising. Her weight climbed to 158 pounds in four months.

Free Poster: Somebody Who is Busier Than You is Exercising Right Now

Tracey Dickson after
17/20 Danuta Otfinowski
Now she’s back at her high school weight

After Tracey found out she was cancer free, she returned to the gym, determined to become even stronger and leaner than she had been before her diagnosis. She reached 117 pounds in less than a year.

Find out how she did it!

He grew up eating giant portions

For Jose Sanchez, years of overeating added up to 300 pounds. "I was eating two to two-and-a-half times as much as I should have been eating," he says. He eventually came to terms with his weight when he caught a glimpse of an unflattering photo of himself.

20 Mindless Portion-Control Tips

Now he can run 27 miles

First Jose tackled portion control and learned to cook for himself. Then he fell in love with running. HE started slowly, running just for a few minutes at a time, but he recently completed a 27-mile run on his 27th birthday. Today he's nearly 100 pounds lighter.

Find out how he did it!

Collage of "after" weight loss photos
Have You Lost 30, 60, or 100 pounds?

If so, we want to hear about your experience! If you'd like to be featured in an upcoming weight loss success slideshow, submit your story and photos for consideration.

Yes! I'd like to share my story.