Losing weight is tough. So often people try and fail — and try again. But 2018 introduced us to people who really understood that losing weight and being healthy involves a lifestyle change more than a fad diet. They’ve shared a lot about what being healthy means and we’ve been wowed by their transformations. Combined, they've lost a whopping 1,382 pounds.
Here are the 10 most inspiring weight-loss stories from 2018.
1. Kevin Gendreau
As Dr. Kevin Gendreau watched his sister die of cancer, he looked at himself. At the time, he was 300 pounds at 5 feet 9 inches tall. He realized his sister had no choice when it came to her health, but he did. He started intermittent fasting and eating lean protein, vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy. In just 18 months, he lost 125 pounds.
“I am shocked it works. There is always a new diet but this is very medically sound, which is why I loved it,” he told TODAY.
Gendreau, a primary care doctor, has maintained a weight of 175 pounds. About 25 percent of his practice is focused on weight loss. While he still fasts, he allows himself more “cheats” and relaxed his eating habits a bit. Losing weight has transformed more than his looks.
“I’ve learned so much about myself,” he said. “I’ve learned that when I put my mind to something and have a good enough reason I can achieve anything. I think my sister would be proud.”
2. Janielle Wright
After having her daughter, Janielle Wright failed to lose the baby weight. While she was overweight before her the birth of daughter, she felt that weighing 337 pounds at 5 feet 8 inches tall kept her from being the mother she wanted to be.
Wright started intermittent fasting, where she fasted for 16 hours and ate during eight hours. She also added 30-minute, high-intensity workouts to her routine. Since January, she has lost 105 pounds.
“I am happy and energized to play with my daughter,” she told TODAY. “I’ve learned that my faith in Christ, consistency and patience is key to a great weight-loss success.”
Next year, she hopes to lose 50 more pounds.
3. Guillermo Flores
Growing up, Guillermo Flores enjoyed comfort food during family celebrations. Soon, he was eating comfort and fast foods all the time, especially when he was stressed. At 5 feet 9 inches tall, he weighed 252 pounds. Then in his early 30s, his mom had a stroke and he started considering his health.
“I thought, ‘Do I really want to be in my 30s and on blood pressure medication?’” he told TODAY.
Flores began eating more vegetables, fruits and lean protein and counting his calories with the app, Lose It! In 18 months he lost 105 pounds.
“As you lose more weight you mentally become more active and willing to try new things,” he said. “I am definitely where I want to be.”
4. Hannah Lester
Hannah Lester was always the “fat friend.” During college she relied on fast food for too many meals, and weighed 285 pounds. At her first job after college her colleagues began a weight-loss challenge and she joined. She started modestly: hoping to lose 35 pounds from January to May. She cut soda and fast food from her diet and started drinking more water. It worked. By March she lost 35 pounds. In three years, she lost 100 pounds and has maintained her weight loss since.
“I really can do something if I honestly set my mind to it,” she told TODAY.
5. Hunter Hobbs
When Hunter Hobbs realized he weighed 202 pounds at 5 feet 10 inches tall, he dedicated himself to three months of diet and exercise. He exercised and ate healthy foods, such as chicken breasts, salad and sweet potatoes. He snapped a picture of himself every day to record his transformation. In three months, he lost 42 pounds and the video of his change has been viewed more than 4 million times.
“I definitely was surprised that so many people were inspired. That is crazy to see,” he told TODAY.
He credits his success to consistency.
“Honestly, I got into a habit every single day,” he said. “That really helped.”
6. Brittany May
When Brittany May needed to weigh herself she had to use a farm scale. A regular scale couldn’t handle the 514-pound woman. It was then May knew she had to do something. By relying on Optavia, a pre-packaged meal program, May shed 336 pounds in less than two years.
“I knew I would have to drop my stubbornness and be willing to tackle the bad habits, the sedentary lifestyle and the relationship with food,” she told TODAY.
Losing weight transformed her life. Once she couldn’t fit behind the steering wheel of the car or tie her own shoes. Now she enjoys life.
“I can drive a car. I can bend down and tie my shoe. I joined a gym for fun. Who would have thought? Every part of my life has changed,” she said.
7. Lexi Reed
After losing 312 pounds with diet and exercise and the support of her husband, Danny Reed, Lexi Reed felt great. But she had loads of excess skin, which caused crippling neck and jaw pain. On Halloween she underwent a “360-degree body lift,” the first of several surgeries to remove her extra skin. After weeks of recovery, Reed can finally see her transformed body. She shares her progress on Instagram, where she revealed she felt nervous about holiday temptations.
“I also have planned ahead so that I know what to expect and where to use my calories. Holidays come and go but our health and memories made with our families with last forever,” Reed shared.
8. Kirsten Pridham
So she decided to track what she ate using the app Lose It! and trained for a 5K. She saw results. In a year, she lost 90 pounds and loves how she looks and feels.
“I realized what I wanted was to be happy and strong as opposed to wearing cute clothes,” she told TODAY. “It is a good balance.”
9. Kelly and Mike Magnarini
After struggling to become pregnant and trying IVF, Kelly Magnarini gained weight and her husband, Mike, gained right along with her. After having twins, they failed to lose the weight. But they were exhausted and disliked how they looked. Kelly weighed 219 pounds and Mike weighed 259 pounds. In March 2017, they focused on healthy eating habits and exercising at home. In less than a year Kelly lost 57 pounds and Mike lost 58.
“I definitely saw some changes pretty quickly,” Mike told TODAY.
Since they last talked to TODAY, the couple underwent another round of IVF and Kelly got pregnant. But she lost the baby and gained 15 pounds, which she plans on losing.
“We’re back to focusing on ourselves and getting back to where we were,” Kelly said via text.
10. Irene Markulik and Nicole Betschman
At 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighing 234 pounds, Irene Markulik felt “so unhappy” with how she looked and felt. The mother of three committed to the 80-Day Obsession and lost 42 pounds.
“The physical changes are amazing and impressive, but the crazy thing is the mental mind shift,” she told TODAY. "I am really living now, not just going through the motions. I’m becoming the person I’ve always wanted to be and it’s just amazing."
Nicole Betschman weighed 196 pounds at 5 feet 5 inches tall when she started the 80-Day Obsession. By the end, she lost 17.25 inches. She didn’t lose a ton of weight but loves how her transformation makes her look.
“We need to throw the scale out of our minds,” she told TODAY. “I’ve only lost about 10 pounds but I look like I’ve lost 30 to 40.”