Tudie-Ann Clarke and Melisa Menas are thankful for new leases on life.
After years of struggling with being overweight, they both kicked their bad eating habits and embraced exercise. As a result, Clarke, 27, lost 105 pounds in two years. Menas, 35, lost 112 pounds in about three years.
The women are now sharing the story of their struggles and triumphs inside People magazine’s latest 100-Pound Weight Loss special edition.
In an interview with “Good Morning America,” Clarke talked about her experience, saying that while she didn’t eat very much during the day, she’d make up for it at nights by “just grabbing whatever sweets, cookies, cake that I could find.”
A serial snacker, Clarke had been overweight for most of her life, but when she was 20 years old a doctor told her she would need bariatric surgery.
Clarke, now a nurse, said the news made her feel as though her world was “coming to an end.”
The Boynton Beach, Florida, woman declined the surgery and joined Jenny Craig, the company that provides weight loss and nutrition support. Through her efforts, she went from 241 to 136 pounds.
“My weight now is at a place where I feel like I can manage it," she said. "I am truly, truly, truly thankful for it.”
Menas, of Redondo Beach, California, shares that the same thankful attitude.
A flight attendant, Menas described “many dark days” as she struggled to control her overeating.
She weighed her heaviest when she was 25 years old and eating nearly 8,000 calories per day.
“I cried myself to sleep every night. It hurt,” she said.
After discovering Lisa Lillien’s Hungry Girl website in February 2010, she was able to lose the weight for good, going from 252 to 140 pounds.
“Lisa Lillien ... showed me how to make recipes where you got to eat large quantities of food, for low calories,” Menas said.
Menas started working by doing Zumba and using an elliptical machine. She’s now training for a half marathon and is happier than ever.
“I have this life today ... that I used to wish I had,” she said.
Sharda Smith-Stevens is also featured on the spread. She discussed her transformation during a live appearance on “GMA” today.
"I feel amazing. I’m still in awe," she said of her transformation. "My best friends say, 'I have to get to know my new best friend.' Because I used to be eating nachos and now it's like, 'Let's go on a hike! Let's do a new workout!'"
Smith-Stevens changed from eating around 4,000 calories a day to less than half that by taking her normal meals of a McGriddle for breakfast, Mexican pizza for lunch, fried chicken for dinner and sometimes a fourth meal plus snacks into an egg white omelet for breakfast, salmon and asparagus for lunch a protein shake with vegetables for dinner and almonds or fruit as a snack.
"I think the lesson here is this is just about hard work, lifestyle changes and diet changes," People magazine features director Zoe Ruderman said on "GMA." "All the women we featured, they are no gimmicks, no surgery."
The new issue of People featuring the weight loss stories will be available on newsstands on Friday.