Total pounds lost: 245 (185 and 60)

Madge, 50, and Karen, 44

After being acquaintances for 10 years, the two started chatting at a mutual friend’s New Year’s Eve party and realized that they both wanted to shed pounds. They became fast friends and weight-loss buddies. “We developed a close friendship based on our common interest in losing weight,” says Madge. “We now keep in touch almost daily, through phone, text and IM, and in person.”

Method: Madge lost the first 100 pounds through a local doctor-supervised weight management program before connecting with Karen at the party. After the pair teamed up, they decided to join a TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) group because it offered the benefit of support and weekly weigh-ins but the freedom to choose their own diet. They both exercised: Karen hit the gym a few times per week and Madge started walking daily (at first just around her block), then joined Planet Fitness to add strength-training weekly.

Buddy Bonus: Free therapy! “Karen and I have discussed emotional things such as fear of social eating events, not being able to keep certain foods in the house and what we used to do to hide our binges,” says Madge. “It’s much easier to open up and chat with someone who has also been in my position.”

Source: womansday