But Moyer and Ritchie always had each other.
The first month, they talked on the phone three times a day. Over the next several months, they would check in for twice-weekly weigh-ins and call whenever they slipped in their diets or needed to vent. They would treat each other to weekend visits in Chicago or Virginia, where they would marvel at how the other had shrunk.
When Ritchie moved back to Virginia last year, supporting each other became even easier. They live close to one another and work out together most mornings at the YMCA. Besides taking Zumba, abs, boot camp and weight-training classes, they're training for the Wicked 10K race in Virginia Beach.
And more than 280 pounds later, they still call each other when they fall off the wagon.
Moyer no longer has to bring a chair for her kids' sports events. She's even able to play an entire parents-vs.-kids soccer game herself.
She also has a lot more friends. "Before, I had to be at home a lot because going out anywhere was hard on me," Moyer says. "And now, it's just like my world has expanded. I have more people and friends in my life now than I have in a long, long time."
And when Ritchie gets an invitation to a military ball these days, she's no longer self-conscious about how she looks.
Both Moyer and Ritchie say they're heard from friends and gym acquaintances who say they've inspired them.
"I had somebody come up to me a few months ago and she said, 'I see you here all the time. Sometimes I do not feel like coming in here and working out, but then I think, well you know that girl's going to be there, so I'm going to go too.' That's been icing on the cake," Moyer says.
The women know there's no end date. They say they will always be food addicts.
Moyer is a pound away from her original goal of 165 pounds but trying to get down to 154. She still uses her MyFitnessPal app and has calorie counts memorized for everything she eats.
Ritchie dropped 111 pounds in the first 10 months and at 149 pounds is now in maintenance mode. She still sticks to the major tenets of the South Beach Diet -- no enriched flour, light on carbs, heavy on protein and veggies. At parties, Ritchie will "taste" most things but fill her plate with healthier options.
She says it's been a healthy change for her whole family. Her kids have learned to eat pancakes with whole-wheat flour and no-sugar syrup as well as brown rice and couscous, and her husband has lost 40 pounds.
"I will always worry about getting heavy again," Ritchie says. "I am not saying I won't take a day off from the gym or eat food that is unhealthy, but I have to keep myself in check forever."