My name is Kari (@ aspire.rise.achieve) and I’m 32 years old. I live in Nova Scotia, Canada, and I work as a support worker for people with intellectual and physical disabilities. I struggled with weight all my life until I decided to start eating nutrient-dense foods, staying low in calories and exercising with Les Mills BodyCombat and BodyPump classes.
Before I lost weight, I had been overweight all my childhood and adolescence. I remember being teased and starting as young as 6 years old, which was a struggle. I knew I looked different and was not happy with my weight, but I lacked the understanding of how I could make a change.
When I was old enough to go to the store nearby to buy a snack after school, the unhealthy choices became more frequent and available. This was when my weight problem got worse. I always felt that my weight held me back from trying new things or meeting new people. I absolutely dreaded gym class. I could not find clothes in my size anywhere, except for specialty stores in large sizes that only had adult clothing styles – not what a teenager wants to wear to school.
I was at my heaviest around 16 years old and I could not believe I saw 300 pounds on the scale. I knew it was a big problem, but I felt stuck. I just thought that was what my life was going to look like. I did not think I could change because I had never known anything else.
I also started having health problems. I had blood work done that showed signs of pre-diabetes, elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower HDL (good) cholesterol, as well as hormone balance. I wanted to do something with my weight, so I wanted to try to eat more nutritious food, but did not stay consistent.
I continued my bad habits until I hit rock bottom at the end of my first year of study when I was almost 20 years old.
At that time, my knees always hurt and would make grinding noises when I went up the stairs. I had no energy and was unhappy most of the time.
I had made many previous unsuccessful attempts to lose weight without success, but I knew this time was different. I was going to make a lasting change and lose weight. I researched and learned the basics of good nutrition, calorie / energy balance and exercise.
May 18, 2008 I started applying the things I learned to my lifestyle.
I finally chose a way to eat that I knew would be realistic and sustainable.
As a student, I could also do it without costing me much money. I did not want a quick fix or a fad diet that would cause me to regain weight. So I focused on keeping my calorie deficit, learning to read nutrition labels and becoming more aware of my consumption. I focused on eating nutritious food as much as possible, but still allowed flexibility since holidays and food-focused events and gatherings will always be a part of life.
Here is what I eat in a day now.
Breakfast: Two scrambled eggs, a piece of sprouted cereal bowl with butter, diced avocado, tomato and coffee with unsweetened almond milk and Stevia.
Lunch: Turkey or lean beef on a small wholemeal bowl with sugar-free ketchup and mustard. Raw vegetables or salad on the side.
Snacks: A protein smoothie, or one to two regular rice cakes with natural peanut butter.
Dinner: Homemade sesame ginger chicken breast or tofu, 1/2 cup rice and broccoli, all topped with green onions and sesame seeds.
Dessert: Some squares with 80 percent dark chocolate mixed with raw almonds.
I did not start any formal exercise other than using a skipping rope in my bedroom first. I was embarrassed to go to the gym at the beginning of my trip.
When I started my sophomore year of college, I learned that students had free gym memberships on the campus. I had never trained in a gym in my life, but I was very fascinated and joined. I started walking every morning, Monday to Friday at 6, before the whole day with classes and evening work. After graduating, I joined another gym, and I have been there for the past 12 years.
I was in love with strength training and running for a long time, but in 2012 I discovered my fitness passion: Les Mills BodyCombat.
It is a mixed martial arts-inspired group fitness class. After I had my first baby in 2015, the group fitness instructor reached out and encouraged me to consider taking instructor training. I held courses at my gym for about a year. I still do Les Mills BodyCombat and BodyPump workouts to this day almost, along with running and lifting weights four days a week.
These three changes made the biggest difference in my weight loss results.
I stayed realistic. I approach weight loss in terms of sustainability, and find healthy foods that I like. I try to make nutritious choices most of the time, and sometimes make less nutritious foods that suit my body’s calorie needs. This method prevents me from feeling limited or missing out on special occasions, events, etc. This is even more important now as a busy, working mom to two young children.
I changed the way I looked at fitness. I have learned that exercise improves mindset and general feelings of well-being, making weight loss and maintenance travel more enjoyable and positive. I love to challenge myself and see what my body can do now that it could not do before my weight loss.
I found responsibility. I found an online weight loss community and forum. People were there for responsibility as well as to support each other. I later switched to MyFitnessPal’s community. I have now found an entire health and fitness community full of inspiration to explore on Instagram. Having people with similar goals and support is a very useful tool for staying inspired and driven.
In total, I lost 100 pounds and kept it for 12 years. Now I’m about 75 pounds down.
By getting married and having two babies, I am still proud of how much my lifestyle has changed permanently. After having my first baby, I lost weight postpartum during the first year. However, my second child had serious health problems, and after giving birth in 2018, I am now losing some weight from the pregnancy.
I am in favor of sustainable weight loss methods, because if I had not focused on the education of nutrition and my body, I might not have been able to maintain it through so many major life changes. Now that things are settled, I finally care again. I hope my story will help others believe in themselves too.
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