This Couple Dropped 395 Lbs. Together: 'We Fell in Love with Taking Care of Ourselves'

“We had a buddy system, so every step of the way, every pound, we were there to motivate each other.”

It was a daunting New Year’s resolution: In January 2016, Lexi and Danny Reed — who weighed a combined 765 lbs. – chose to ditch their unhealthy lifestyle once and for all. “We would spend most nights just sitting on the couch watching television and mindlessly eating junk food,” says Lexi, 27, a blogger who has 492,000 followers on her Instagram @fatgirlfedup. “We would order a whole pizza, bread sticks, wings and a liter of soda,” she says. Soon her weight had ballooned to 485 lbs.

“A friend challenged us to 30 days of no eating out, cheat meals, soda or alcohol,” says Lexi. “We started cooking, meal prepping, tracking our calories and reading nutrition marks.” The Terre Haute, Indiana couple swapped fried foods for chicken, salmon and lean meats, and also learned to make healthy versions of their favorite dishes.

They started going to the gym, too. Lexi says she would work out on the elliptical for 30 minutes, five times a week.

“When I walked into the gym at 485 lbs., I told myself that it was basically going to be the first day of the rest of my life,” she says. “And if people were going to stare at me because of my weight, I was going to give them a reason to stare by being the toughest worker in the room.”

Danny, 29, says he had his own reservations initially. “At first the thought didn’t sound fantastic because it was always excellent going home, sitting down, eating and not having to worry about anything,” says the lab manager who went from 280 lbs. to 190 lbs. “But I the more I thought about it, I said, ‘It’s a new year and something to work toward while helping Lexi out as well.’ ”

That doesn’t mean the two of them didn’t have hard days, especially in the beginning. “We would be tired and sore because our bodies weren’t used to it,” says Lexi. “But we had a buddy system, so every step of the way, every pound, we were there to motivate each other. We kept each other accountable.”

Without any gimmicks — just through healthy eating and exercise — our 2018 Half Their Size stars shed hundreds of pounds. For more on their tales and weight loss tips, pick up a copy of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

And soon they start to see an unexpected benefit to losing weight together: an increase in their quality time. “Before we lost weight we weren’t talking, we were just watching TV,” says Lexi, who now weighs 180 lbs.  “Then we started going on walks, being active, hiking, riding bikes — all these activities that we weren’t able to do when we were living on our couch.”

In fact, last summer they took a “bucket-list trip” to do things that were previously off limits because of how heavy they were, like canoeing and riding roller coasters. They even revisited Panama City Beach, where Lexi had not been able to participate in the beach shell tour on their honeymoon because she couldn’t manage to walk down the shore. “We returned to that beach and ran down that beach!” she says.

These days the two of them are closer than ever. Says Lexi: “It wasn’t about the weight that we lost but the life we gained.”

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