TODAY   |  December 30, 2009

Weight-loss wonders are half their size

Dec. 30: This week’s issue of People magazine features individuals who lost half their body weight without surgery or pills. TODAY meets the three and checks out their new looks.

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>> truvia natural sweetener. honestly sweet.

>> and this morning on "take it off today," becoming half the person you used to be. this week's issue of "people" magazine features individuals who lost half their body weight without surgery or pills. we're going to meet three of them and check out their new looks in a moment, but first, galina espinoza is people's senior editor. good morning.

>> good morning, matt.

>> this is a popular issue for you, isn't it?

>> it is, and every year we get letters from readers asking us for our help, and what i like about the group you'll hear about today is they tackled two of the problems most readers say they have with losing weight , lack of time and lack of money.

>> did they find you or did you find them?

>> both. we have people saying look at my amazing pictures, but we also send our reporters out to see --

>> or friends and neighbors say you've got to meet this person.

>> exactly.

>> let's get right to it because these are extraordinary stories. the first person we'll meet is jamie stovall, who is 27 years old, from arizona. she lost 155 pounds from her starting weight of 290 pounds. jamie , i'm not going -- there's the before picture -- jamie , i'm not going to wait any longer. come on out. look at you, girl. look at you. you look amazing. how do you feel?

>> great.

>> yeah?

>> oh, yes.

>> what is the secret? people are going to hear no surgery, no pills. how does she do it?

>> you just have to commit yourself and eat healthy and count your calories and make it happen. you have control over your life.

>> and jamie didn't join a diet plan or a gym. she worked out at home.

>> right.

>> and she just taught herself how to count calories, right? you looked up things on the internet.

>> exactly, yeah.

>> and like a lot of people, jamie , what i understand, you were one of these people who had a lot of stress in your life.

>> yes.

>> and when you were stressed, you ate.

>> oh, yeah.

>> how do you break that habit?

>> you find other outlets for your stress, you take a walk, you exercise.

>> you just do whatever you can. you've been dieting on or off since you were 5 years old.

>> yes.

>> and i know we're in the holiday time right now. has it been especially hard to kind of maintain the diet now?

>> no, because i had this to look forward to and i needed to be on television, so that kept me motivated.

>> good inspiration. jamie , you look fantastic. congratulations.

>> thank you.

>> next we have david keenan , 26 years old from california. david lost 180 pounds from his starting weight of 360 pounds. there's the before picture . david , let's see the new you. * tonight's the night *

>> it's a different person. it's a completely different person. david , congratulations.

>> thank you.

>> you look at that picture -- when you see that picture right there, what goes through your mind?

>> i remember taking that picture . i was ashamed to take that picture . i just didn't -- i wasn't comfortable at that point in my life at all.

>> you lost 180 pounds in only 15 months.

>> yeah.

>> i mean, that's an extraordinary weight loss . and it's my understanding you also did not go to a gym.

>> no. i used beachbody.com, they have these workout videos and they're very motivating and they're easy to stick with.

>> did you have a problem with the gym? did you not want to go to gym?

>> no, i guess i never had tried it but i felt like if i had tried it i would have been ashamed of just being in front of a group of people and not feeling comfortable enough to really work out to the extent that i needed to.

>> you're not ashamed anymore --

>> no, not at all.

>> in fact, he posed in a wet suit in "people" magazine, so he obviously feels very comfortable in his skin.

>> you were a closet eater growing up, is that right?

>> yeah. i got to a point where i felt uncomfortable eating in front of people because i didn't want people to see how poorly and how much i ate.

>> do you still have weak moments?

>> of course, yeah.

>> yeah? how do you deal with them?

>> i accept them. i know it's a challenge. it's an everyday challenge to fight the temptation to eat certain things, but i allow myself cheat days, and it keeps me on balance.

>> which is smart. you don't deprive yourself all the time.

>> right.

>> congratulations, david .

>> thank you.

>> it's great to see you. next, last but not least, we have 30-year-old christina tavares from florida. she lost from her starting weight of 326 pounds. there is the before picture . christina, come on out. * don't stop, make it pop

>> hi.

>> how are you?

>> i'm okay. how are you guys?

>> i shouldn't even ask that question. you're fabulous is how you are. congratulations.

>> thank you.

>> have a seat.

>> thank you.

>> your goal, from what i understand, from starting this, was to simply look good in a pair of jeans.

>> yeah.

>> you've clearly met that goal.

>> what do you think, right?

>> thank you.

>> am i allowed to say that?

>> thank you very much. i appreciate that comment. it's the most rewarding thing is to be able to go out and feel comfortable, because when you're heavy, you feel like everybody's watching everything you do. oh, is she really going to eat that? because you can see the expression on people's faces, like when you're out in public. and i see it now when i'm skinnier, when i'm out in the supermarket, you see other people watching what the heavy people put in their shopping cart .

>> yeah. you don't find yourself doing that, do you?

>> no. i just observe everybody. i always observe everybody.

>> for a time you were wearing men's 44-inch waist pants. i understand you never ate vegetables until you started this diet.

>> yeah.

>> and clearly, i mean, that was a flaw in your diet in the past.

>> yeah. my diet -- i remember i was about 6 years old, made me sit at the kitchen table with a tomato for three hours. you cannot move until you eat this tomato. i won. i didn't eat that tomato. i didn't eat that tomato, but i had to learn how to eat. it was about 27 years of not eating properly.

>> have you -- how do i say this delicately? would you concede that you're getting a lot of attention from men these days?

>> i am. i am, yeah.

>> how's that feel?

>> it's different. it's totally different from being --

>> because you had never had a boyfriend, right?

>> i was engaged. i have a 10-year-old son. i was engaged --

>> but before this --

>> -- before. but currently, i'm single. i've been single for ten years.

>> wow. you know what? take your time. it's fine. what can people take away from these stories?

>> that there are no excuses, anyone can do it. cristina used e-diets, which is an online service , david worked out at home, jamie just looked up calorie counts. anyone can do this. get started today.

>> i'm sure there are a lot of people at home very inspired by the three of you. congratulations.

>> i hope so.

>> happy new year to all of you.

>> happy birthday to you.

>> thank you very much, i appreciate it. you still look great in those jeans. and galena, thank you as well.