Half Their Size

From "20/20" and People Magazine, stories of real people who lost serious weight.
8:30 | 01/04/13

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Transcript for Half Their Size
year as we starter in with "people" magazine to bring you astounding weight loss stories. It's the number one resolution to shed extra pounds. Quick fixes made the headline, how you can get fit with a 30-second sprint a few times a week. But what really works if you need to lose half your size? Debra roberts has the story. Reporter: It's a high profile photo shoot with lighting, makeup, hair. Really makes the hair beautiful. Yeah, fine. Reporter: But these models are not just showing off clothes. They're also revealing their new bodies for "people" magazine's annual "half their size" issue. Just last year, there was a whole lot more of each of them. I lost 137 pounds, and I'm half my size. I've lost 125 pounds. I lost 242 pounds. Reporter:504 pounds among them. One common thread among all of our "half their size" candidates is that they found the right moment for themselves to make those changes. Reporter: But behind these three smiles, three emotional journeys. Journeys that began back when they looked like this. I hated who I saw in the mirror. I feel like I had pretty much given up on myself. Getting bullied, picked on, not feel like a human. Reporter: That tells the story right there. Can you believe that you fit into these? And I was actually squeezing into these. Reporter: So I look at you now, this fit guy, and then i look at this photo. Who is this guy? Let's see. A guy with a lot of pain. A lot of pain. A lot of demons and don't even know who he is. I lost him. Can you give me a half a smile? Hey, richard. I grew up overweight my whole life. I would eat away a lot of my pain at night. I would just binge eat and i couldn't stop. Of course, every morning I would have a pound of bacon, four to six biscuits, a dozen eggs. Reporter: So this was breakfast? That was breakfast. And then before we'd leave, I'd actually have a snack and i would get four double cheese burgers. That's a snack? A snack. Reporter: That's nearly 7,000 calories -- before lunch. By 25, richard's weight had ballooned to 426 pounds. Morbidly obese, his home scale couldn't even register his weight. Even the simplest tasks were a challenge. I couldn't even bend over and clip my toenails. Reporter: Most concerning? Two years of failed attempts to start a family with his wife. There was two things that the doctor told me. That I would not live to see 30, and that I would never be able to have kids if I didn't choose to change my life. While I was in the doctor's office, I went ahead and planned my suicide. Reporter: You were gonna take your life? Really? I didn't want to live anymore because I was tired of being in pain. The only thing -- I didn't want my wife to walk in and see me that way. That's the only thing that stopped me. Reporter: A terrifying moment of truth. Richard knew he now had to take charge of his health. A friend lent him an exercise dvd, p90x. Reluctantly richard gave it a try. Each day he'd sweat his way through the intense 60-minute program. Suddenly motivated, he began cutting back on his huge portions. And as the weight melted off, richard's resolve hardened. I would put my whole life on facebook. And so -- so that way, I am holding myself accountable to the world. Reporter:18 months later, richard was half his size. There it is, 184.8. Reporter: The best reward? The birth of his son, brady. I remember holding him in my arms. Reporter: And that was a miracle, really. It was a miracle. Reporter: So you are active like this every day? Yeah, this is normal for me. Wow. Reporter: Amazing from a man who once thought exercise was a four-letter word. Richard is committed to inspiring others, coaching fit clubs, supporting those determined to follow in his footsteps. I just want to say, each one of y'all have a special place in my heart. I want to say that. Reporter: Like richard, ashley donahoo's body was also breaking down. I had major depression, liver disease, high blood pressure, chronic migraines. And my doctor said that I don't think you're going to make it to 30. Reporter: A 27-year-old mom of 2, her journey to health began literally with a single step. My husband, he saw how unhappy I was and came to me and said, "we're going to go for a walk." And I said, "no, we're not." Reporter: But her husband wouldn't take no for an answer. My back was killing me. My feet were killing me. And I just started, like, crying in the middle of the street. By the time I got home, my tears were dried, and I had a resolve to change. Reporter: Those walks eventually turned into runs, and ashley started using an online food journal, discovering lower fat, lower calorie options. Every time I made one change, I'd get used to it. And then I'd make another. Reporter: Small things starting to add up. Within 20 months, she'd dropped 137 pounds. And all those health issues? Gone. What's the sweetest part, pardon the expression, about losing this kind of weight? My eldest. He gives me a hug, and he goes, "mommy, I can reach my hands all the way around you." And I was just, like, tears, you know, immediately. Reporter: Leah fernandez also started making changes with her husband t.J.'S help. Like ashley and so many others, she packed on the pounds after motherhood. I tended to be an emotional eater. ter: WHAT CHANGED? My husband and I were at lunch one afternoon. And he looked me straight in the eyes and said, "listen." He said, "i love you for who you are, but you are not happy with you." Reporter: Leah decided to follow family members who had success using jenny craig, focusing on portion control. I haven't looked back ever since that day. The fire was lit inside, and it's still going. Reporter: And she discovered a passion for running. This past may, she ran a 5k with her husband, t.J. As soon as I slowed down, he was, like, "no." He was like, "no, you get to that finish line." He wanted that so bad for me. Reporter: But that high would be followed by an unimaginable low. The next morning, tragedy. Her husband, her rock, was killed in a motorcycle accident. He was sharing this crowning moment with you. And then to lose him like that. I mean, people ask me, "how do you continue?" Reporter: How do you? That race moment is a big one for me. Because I know that my husband would want nothing more for me than to continue to finish this. Reporter: Some people would have reverted back to eating. How do you resist that? No amount of food or any kind of food is worth it to me to go back to where I was. Reporter: Richard is just as determined, though he admits it's a constant battle. Every day, I fight and fight. Reporter: You are still struggling against this food addiction? I still fight it every day, yes, ma'am. Reporter: Are you where you want to be? I am. I do have excess skin. But that is going to be a reminder to me every single day of a life that I am not going back to. Reporter: Battle scars? Yes, battle scars. Reporter: Battle scars. Reporter: And the other reminder on news stands now. Success stories that could offer

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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