Seven Incredible Weight Loss Stories That Will Motivate You to Meet Your New Year’s Goals

NBC Today

Losing weight is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions, and it has become closer this year because weight-loss drugs can put the goal within reach of many more people.

If you’re looking for some inspiration after weeks of overeating this holiday season, we show you the men and women who transformed their bodies (and their health) in 2023.

Here are some of the top weight loss stories this year on .com, plus tips for successful weight loss in 2024 from the Start team:

A change in diet and walking helped her lose 114 pounds and cure reflux

Missy Gillenwater, 50, weighed 277 pounds when she started her walking routine. Following doctor’s orders, she also changed her diet after she was diagnosed with reflux.

Gillenwater eliminated fried and fatty foods, soft drinks, tomato-based foods, red meat, bread and pasta. He focused on eating fresh vegetables and lighter meats, such as chicken, salmon and turkey. Now, she walks 10 to 13 miles a day.

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He has lost 114 pounds and no longer has to take blood pressure or reflux medications.

Gillenwater advises those who want to lose weight to take photos at every stage of the process to stay motivated.

Losing 100 pounds helped her detect breast cancer

Tamara Loving, 45 years old.Courtesy Tamara Loving

She had to try several times, but in the end Tamara Loving, 45, put an end to the cycle of weight gain, loss and regain.

She joined the WeightWatchers weight loss group and was in and out of the organization for several years, but in 2016 she finally lost 122 pounds and hasn’t gained weight since.

With a family history of breast cancer, Loving had undergone regular mammograms, but the disease had not been detected, until 2017.

“Doctors have told me, ‘I think losing weight saved your life. Because if you had still weighed 260 pounds I don’t know if I would have detected anything on that mammogram,’” he told .com.

Since then, she has maintained healthy eating and exercise habits, being active five days a week, and has been cancer-free.

He lost 96 pounds in a year by walking and cooking at home

Melissa Paluch, 44 years old.
Melissa Paluch, 44 years old.Courtesy Melissa Paluch

Melissa Paluch, 44, was frustrated when she reached 275 pounds. She had diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and sleep apnea.

His doctor recommended eating between 1,300 and 1,400 calories a day, so Paluch began focusing on eating lighter meals.

Now, he plans his dinners for the week on Sunday nights, which helps him cut down on the amount of take-home food he orders. He drinks 100 ounces of water a day and walks 3 miles a day.

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He has lost 96 pounds and improved his health.

Paluch advises others to be patient: “You don’t gain weight overnight or lose it overnight,” he warns.

He lost 123 pounds with medication: “I was in shock”

Doctors consider Zepbound to be the most effective weight loss medication currently on the market. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in November, it contains the same active ingredient as Mounjaro, the treatment for type 2 diabetes.

Alexis Mitchell took Mounjaro over the counter to lose weight when she reached 365 pounds and developed non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and insulin resistance.

He lost 15 pounds in the first month and 123 pounds in a year. “I was just losing weight,” he told NBC News.

Mitchell has experienced side effects, such as constipation, nausea and stomach pain, but says she is no longer prediabetic or has fatty liver disease, so the positive aspects of the medication outweigh the negatives.

“Walking saved my life”

Nick Bricker weight loss
Nick Bricker, 52 years old.Courtesy Nick Bricker

When Nick Bricker weighed 437 pounds, he needed an inhaler to breathe, medications to control reflux and two drugs to lower his blood pressure.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he knew his health problems meant he would likely die if he contracted the virus, so he started using a stationary treadmill to stay more active and lose weight.

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Bricker, 52, began by walking 10 minutes at a slow pace. After a while, when he could walk for 20 to 30 minutes, he started walking outdoors. He now walks at least 12,000 steps a day.

He also changed his diet, eliminating bread, pizza, fried foods, potatoes, rice and sweets. Instead, eat yogurt, peanut butter, smoothies, vegetables, lean proteins, and salads.

Bricker now maintains his weight at 215 pounds.

“If I can do it, anyone can do it. My mindset for 10 years was, ‘I’ll do it tomorrow.’ But until today I know that will never happen tomorrow,” she told .com.

Advice from the doctor who lost 100 pounds

Emi Hosoda
Emi Hosoda, 53 years old.Courtesy Emi Hosoda and Kandis Spurling

Dr. Emi Hosoda, 53, struggled with excess weight in the years before menopause. Younger personal trainers often tell women to eat less and exercise more, but they’re not seeing women in their 40s, 50s and 60s, she says.

Hosoda lost 100 pounds by paying attention to the amount of sugar in foods rather than their calories and following a low-glycemic index diet, which keeps blood sugar level even.

He gets up at 4:00 a.m. to exercise a minimum of three days a week: warming up on a stationary bike for about 30 minutes, then lifting weights for about an hour.

An amputation caused him to lose 285 pounds

Robert Jones before and after
Robert Jones.Courtesy Robert Jones

For Robert Jones, the breaking point came when complications from diabetes led him to have a toe amputated.

“When I got home, I said to myself, ‘I’m never going to lose another body part.’ That’s what changed my way of thinking. “I don’t want to get sick again,” she explained to .com.

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Jones weighed 500 pounds, then dropped to 360 pounds, but that still caused him many health problems.

He began following a vegan diet and eats three to four servings of vegetables a day, including salads, beans, quinoa, lentils, rice, potatoes, yams, tofu and vegan meats. She also works out at the gym, lifting weights and doing cardio.

He has lost 285 pounds.

Start with modest goals, advises Jones: “Trying to lose 100 pounds is too much. Start small, then increase by a little each month and you will eventually reach your long-term goals,” he said.