(CNN) — “Lose weight,” “eat healthy” and “go to the gym” always top the list of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. If you’re in need of some inspiration to tackle your goal, look no further.
CNN regularly profiles people who have lost a significant amount of weight. We checked in with some of our past motivators to see how getting fit has changed their lives. See their physical transformations by clicking through the gallery above, the reading their stories below.
1. Bryan Ganey
For years, Bryan Ganey worked the night shift, binging on fast food and soda for breakfast, lunch and dinner. By the age of 37, he had a body mass index of 87 (anything over 30 is considered obese). Then, a pulmonary embolism changed his life. In two and a half years, he’s lost 347 pounds.
Ganey has also run a 5K without a stopping and cut an hour off of his 10K race time. He’s even started a weight loss consulting business on the side and is working on a book.
“I turn 40 next month and I can’t wait,” Ganey wrote in an e-mail in December. “Most people dread getting older. For me, it’s an achievement. I made it. Life has never been better!”
2. Darrin Cook
Darrin Cook grew up in New Orleans, where food was the center of his family’s life. When they evacuated for Hurricane Katrina, food became a comfort and a reminder of home. At his heaviest, Cook weighed 390 pounds.
Between 2006 and 2010, he lost 175 pounds. Cook now weighs a comfortable 240. His book, “The Weight of New Orleans,” is set to release in January.
3. Doug Skinner
A couple of months after CNN wrote about Doug Skinner’s 125-pound loss, Skinner found out his wife was pregnant with their second child. The birth of their son, combined with a move, put Skinner’s weight loss goals on the back burner. He regained 25 pounds but has since worked to take it off. He ran his second half-marathon this summer and has rejoined Weight Watchers.
“I know this isn’t the last time I will face weight issues, but I just keep trying to stay on top of it,” Skinner said. “It is a fight that I will eventually win.”
4. Michelle Jackson
Michelle Jackson was terrified to turn 40 in 2013, fearing that a slowing metabolism would prevent her from ever getting healthy. Determined to take control of her future, she dropped 100 pounds in less than two years and has continued to maintain her weight loss.
Even her 10-year-old son has been inspired to pick up healthier habits.
5. Mark Rucker
Mark Rucker’s friends call him “The Beast” for a reason. Since February 2011 — while dropping 100 pounds — he’s participated in a 5K, a 10K, a half-marathon, a marathon and an Ironman competition.
“I took a couple of months off from the rigorous training routine but am back on schedule now, training for Ironman Louisville next August,” Rucker said. He’s also working on developing his career as a motivational speaker.
6. Drew Manning
Drew Manning’s story shocked America. The fitness trainer purposely put on 70 pounds in six months last year, only to drop it all again before June. Manning said his goal was to understand better what his clients were going through as they struggled to lose weight.
“The biggest thing (I learned) is that it’s not just about the physical. It’s not just about the meal plan and the workouts and those things. The key is the mental and the emotional issues. I realized those issues are real,” he said at the time.