They had compelling, deeply-personal reasons for embarking on a life-changing mission to lose weight and regain their quality of life.
Kim Eidson, Eric Freemyer, Wendi Tillem, Marty Moorehead and Ken Schooltz worked hard -- exercising, dieting, eating well and resisting temptation. And they've lost a total of 696 pounds
Here are their stories:
Freemyer is a Dallas attorney who's married, with 13-year-old twin boys and a 4-year-old daughter. Freemyer said he wanted to sleep all the time before he started his diet. Before he began to lose weight, he couldn't play with his children and his wife worried that he would die of a heart attack. He was afraid he wouldn't be alive to walk his daughter down the aisle.
A trial attorney, Freemyer said his weight affected the way juries perceived him. Now, he runs a mile every day with his twin 13-year-old sons. Freemyer's brother and sister, who were also overweight, went on the diet and have dropped pounds.
Current Weight: 185 pounds
Total Weight Loss: 130 pounds
Diet: Medifast. The diet calls for five daily Medifast meal-replacement drinks or foods (available only through the company), plus one meal of lean meat or fish, plus salad or green vegetables, according to webmd.com. The high-protein, low-carb plans allow dieters about 800 to 1,000 calories a day, and is designed to yield a loss of two to five pounds per week while preserving muscle mass. Freemyer started the diet in March 2009 when he weighed 315 pounds, going down to 185 pounds in October 2009.
Tillem, a married mother of two, works in fashion retail but, because of her weight, could never wear the clothes she sold. The Monroe Township, N.J.-woman had lost two uncles and an aunt to Type 2 diabetes. Her father was dying of complications from the disease, and his doctor told her she, too, would die if she didn't do something about her weight.
Before her father died last spring, he saw that Wendi was well on her way to a healthy weight and getting fit. Tillem has put her entire family on her diet, and now runs 3 to 4 miles per day.
Current Weight: 156 pounds
Total Weight Loss: 124 pounds
Diet: Younger (Thinner) You Diet. The diet is based on a book by Dr. Eric Braverman, who says that imbalanced brain chemistry is the reason we have trouble losing weight and keeping energy levels up. His plan explains how different foods, spices and teas can help to bring these chemicals back into their proper balance. Tillem started out at 270 pounds and lost the weight in 18 months.
Eidson, a nurse from Joplin, Md., is a married mother of three and the grandmother of a 3-year-old girl. She was able to lose 100 pounds twice but gained it all back. She was considering gastric bypass surgery before she started her diet. She lost 30 pounds in the first month and had more energy than she'd had before.
Eidson was excited and motivated by her success, and her chronic heartburn stopped when she started to lose weight. She's now in the best shape of her life.
Current Weight: 180 pounds
Total Weight Loss: 159 pounds in about 18 months.
Diet: The Atkins Diet. The regimen restricts refined carbohydrates, according to webmd.com. The diet recommends eating a balance of saturated fats and proteins, including red meat. Because carbohydrates are so limited, the body goes into a state of ketosis - meaning it burns it own fat for fuel. When the body is in ketosis, you tend to feel less hungry and so you're unlikely to eat as much as you normally would. Eidson started the diet in March 2007.
Moorehead is a cabinet salesman from Gilbert, Ariz. Since he lost weight, some people no longer recognize him. One customer who hadn't seen him in more than a year came into his office and asked him if 'Marty' still worked there, Moorehead said.
Moorehead, who weighed 363 pounds, had been going to doctors for a number of weight-related ailments, from bad knees to ankles and high blood pressure. On some of the visits, he couldn't fit on the X-ray tables. Now, he and his wife walk 3 miles per day, three days a week. He also swims, does sit-ups and uses an elliptical machine. He used to wear a belt that was more than 5 feet long, a belt he still has to remind him how far he has come.
Current Weight: 200 pounds
Total Weight Loss: 163 pounds
Diet: Dr. Siegal's Cookie Diet. According to webmd.com, the diet replaces meals with cookies that contain select amino acids -- thought to suppress hunger -- as well as fiber and other ingredients that digest slowly to help keep you feeling full. Moorehead started the diet in January 2009.
Shooltz, a 56-year-old father and grandfather from Jennings, Fla., is a changed man. In 2001, doctors put stents into his heart, but that didn't help him to lose weight. He was 315 pounds when he started his diet. After he lost the weight, his blood sugar and cholesterol levels have dropped. He works out every other day, and has gone from a size 50 waist to a size 34.
His wife, Christa, also is following his diet, and she has lost significant weight. She went from wearing size 12 clothing to a size 4. Shooltz retired from the U.S. Army in 1992 and now works for the Florida Department of Transportation.
Current Weight: 195 pounds
Total Weight Loss: 120 pounds
Diet: Nutrisystem. The plan uses low-glycemic "good carbs," low fat, healthy protein and high-fiber, ready-cooked meals, according to webmd.com. Nutrisystem says its meals digest slowly and help you feel more satisfied. Shooltz lost the weight in 2008, and has kept it off.