1. Jerry Ferrara: 55 Pounds
Jerry Ferrara rose to fame as “Turtle,” the heaviest of the characters on the HBO’s hit show “Entourage.” In 2011, the 30-year-old actor decided that it was time for a change. “I got on the scale and I weighed around 203. I’m only 5’7. I was about to turn 30, and I wasn’t active anymore. So I started working with a nutritionist and a trainer. I played basketball twice a week. And soon it all just became a habit for me. I became addicted to something good for a change.” Ferrara, after committing to regular workout sessions and a diet including tofu, fruits, vegetables, lots of oatmeal and no pasta (his favorite food) or sweets, dropped 55 pounds over the course of a year. About regular exercise he commented, “You just gotta’ suck it up. If I have to work at 7:00 AM, I’m up at 5:00 and get 45 minutes in. Granted, I hate it when I get up – I’m cursing and miserable – but when I leave I feel happy about it.”
2. Grace Peacock: 116 Pounds
Grace Peacock was proposed to by her longtime boyfriend Dan Newsome on Christmas Day. Although they weren’t yet married, he tried to carry her over the threshold of their home in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. But he couldn’t; she was too heavy at 254 pounds. “He tried to pick me up and just couldn’t,” she recalls. That moment propelled Grace into a full-on effort to lose weight. Grace had been an overeater ever since childhood. Her weight didn’t really bother her until her teen years, when she started trying, unsuccessfully, to lose weight with fad diets. After the proposal, however, she started a serious regimen of long walks and gym workouts. “The first time I got on the treadmill I couldn’t even run,” Grace says. She also joined a local weight loss group. Once the weight started coming off, she was even more inspired; she now eats healthily and goes to the gym four times a week for 5k runs on the treadmill. “I feel fantastic,” says Grace. “The wedding will probably be in 2016, which means Dan has plenty of time to practice carrying me over the threshold!”
3. Matthew Briggs: 238 pounds
Matthew Briggs made national headlines in England after losing more than half of his body weight. 27-year-old Briggs’ journey began when he saw an unflattering photo of himself, beside his father, on Facebook and had a moment of realization. While having been an active teenager, he had been living on a diet of takeout food, soda and no exercise after his mother feel ill with multiple sclerosis when he was only 18. The time spent caring for her left him with little time to continue enjoying sports like swimming and martial arts. When she passed away, he turned to greasy food for comfort: two pizzas, multiple chocolate bars and chips were a daily habit. “I became more and more reclusive. I went to work because I had to,” said Briggs. “At bars and clubs with friends I always felt uncomfortable.”
Within days of his photo-inspired revelation, Briggs started a weight-loss program and regular running sessions. “When I saw the photo on Facebook I was mortified,” he recalls. Two years of exercise and healthy eating have changed his life. In 2013 Matt ran the New York City and London marathons, part of his newest hobby. He runs to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society, in honor of his mother. “My relationship with food completely changed,” he says. “I realized losing weight and keeping it off isn’t about going on a diet, counting calories or having small portions, it’s about a complete change of lifestyle.”
4. Kim Freshwater: 243 Pounds
When she sat down and broke a chair in public, Kim Freshwater was finally fed up with being overweight, as she had been for over four decades of her life. After the embarrassing incident, she lived in fear of public gatherings. Freshwater missed a family funeral and her own son’s school awards ceremony because there would be folding chairs for the audience. “A chair had already collapsed under me,” she said. “It was mortifying and I was constantly scared that I would break something else.” Before losing weight, Freshwater was walking around on crutches, suffering from high blood pressure and joint pain.
Her furniture-shattering turnaround led her to visit her family doctor, who advised her on a weight-loss program. Soon, her diet of creamy pasta dishes, cookies and chocolate turned into three home-cooked daily meals. Freshwater now plays tennis, swims, cycles, and walks regularly. The 45-year-old wife and mother went from 404 pounds to 161 and dropped 13 dress sizes within two years. “I don’t think I realized how unhappy I was until I became as happy as I am now,” said Freshwater.