The Most Inspiring Weight Loss Stories of 2012

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

By: Mary Squillace 

Photo Credit: Danuta Otfinowski; Patrick James Miller; Kenny Braun

Most Inspiring Weight Loss of 2012

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!

Photo Credit: Photo 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!

Photo Credit: Photo 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!

Photo Credit: Photo 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!

Photo Credit: Photo 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!

Photo Credit: Photo 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

Photo Credit: 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!

Photo Credit: 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

Photo Credit: 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!

Photo Credit: 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

Photo Credit: Photo 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!

Photo Credit: Photo 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

Photo Credit: 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!

Photo Credit: 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!

Photo Credit: Photo 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!

Photo Credit: Photo 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

Photo Credit: 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!

Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Jose Sanchez

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

Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Jose Sanchez

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!

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.

Copyright© 2014 Rodale Inc. "Fitbie" is a registered trademark of Rodale, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction, transmission or display is permitted without the written permission of Rodale, Inc.