By Brittani Renaud
October 04, 2010
Tom Rafalovich

Tom RafalovichThree years ago, when Amanda Bard (right), 27, and Amber DeBeer Larson (left), 30, started new jobs at the University at Buffalo, they discovered they had one big thing in common: They both had a lot of weight to drop. “You cant talk to somebody whos got 5 to 10 pounds to lose and expect them to understand what youre going through,” says Amber, whose weight had climbed to 250 pounds at her heaviest. Amanda (who weighed 245 pounds) and Amber decided to go to Weight Watchers together. They used breaks to walk around campus. And, despite working out separately, the friends got inspiration from each others successes. “Amber would tell me what exercise she had done that morning, which would motivate me for my afternoon workout,” Amanda recalls.

Amber lost 115 pounds in 15 months, and Amanda reached her 96-pound goal in 23 months. Now they live in different cities but have found a great excuse to visit each other—running races together. This past May, Amber and Amanda finished a half-marathon. And even when theyre not able to talk face-to-face, they credit their bond with keeping pounds away. “Just having that person to turn to when you want to give up is so important,” Amber says.

Their favorite snack
They both love to eat yogurt (their favorite: Dannon Light & Fit). Amanda pairs it with a bagel or a granola bar for breakfast; Amber eats it with Grape-Nuts for an after-dinner dessert.

How Amber sneaks in veggies
For a quick, low-cal dinner, she combines her favorite fresh vegetables to make a delicious stir-fry. “You can change the flavors and tastes with different spices,” she says. “Its an easy way to get your veggie servings.”

Calorie-counting secret
“I used to grab a bag of chips, sit on the couch, and—without realizing it—eat the entire bag,” Amanda says. “Now, Im aware of serving sizes. I write down everything that goes into my mouth on a daily basis.”

Their gift
The friends both love Ann Taylor; the retailer is giving them each a $250 gift certificate.
Congrats, ladies!