NAZARETH, Penn. – One day, Kari Ianuale had had enough. The Nazareth, Pennsylvania, resident was embarrassed to discover that her size 24 pants no longer fit.
“I refused to go up yet another size,” she said.
In July 2011, Ianuale officially began her weight loss journey, and what a journey it has been: In just over three years, she has lost a staggering amount of weight.
“People are floored when they see me,” Ianuale said. “They all say I don’t even look like the same person.”
At her heaviest, Ianuale weighed 301 pounds. At 5-foot-10, that made her body mass index 43 — clinically, extremely obese. Today, she weighs a healthy 156 pounds.
“I was embarrassed by the way I looked,” she admitted. “When my husband introduced me to people I felt bad because I wasn’t that pretty or thin of a wife, even though he loves me for who I am and didn’t care what I looked like.
“I always thought people were judging me, especially when I would walk into places.”
So how did she lose 145 pounds? And would her secrets work for you?
Secret #1: Cut your portion sizes
She started by cutting back on her portion sizes.
“I always used to eat until I was feeling uncomfortably full,” she said. “I just lessened my portions to normal consumption,” paying attention to labels but not counting calories.
Secret #2: Start slowly, then build
She didn’t go to the gym at first; she started at home on the exercise bike and elliptical. She started working out 20 to 30 minutes, six days a week.
“I was losing 20 pounds a month in the beginning,” she said. “As I had less and less to lose, it got harder.”
So she upped her game. She signed up for a local gym and began strength training.
“My goal was to lose half,” said Ianuale. “I almost made it there. So now it’s basically maintaining. I’ll go up or down a few. I’ve put on a lot of muscle weightlifting at the gym.”
She plans to stay around 155 to 160 pounds.
Secret #3: Be consistent
Today Ianuale goes to the gym six days a week.
She runs between 3 and 4 miles a night and does 30 to 40 minutes of weight training. “I do upper body (work), then the next night, lower body.”
Her husband, Nino, was persuaded to join her at the gym. Also new to exercise, he has since lost 30 pounds.
“She hit the ground running when she decided she’d finally had enough and hasn’t looked back since,” he said. “I had anticipated that she might quit or lighten the load. … Instead (she) got more intense. It’s really amazing to see her go through her change.”
Secret #4: Drink 16 ounces of juice
Not long ago, Ianuale started using a juice blender, drinking 16 ounces of juice every day, which she says is a major part of her weight-loss program.
Her drinks vary, but typically she juices frozen blueberries, lemons, kale, spinach, pineapple, flax seeds, broccoli and carrots.
Secret #5: Add variety
Once she got her food portions under control, she started adding more fruits and vegetables, and protein at dinner. Ianuale stays away from processed foods altogether.
“I don’t eat greasy foods or junk food — my stomach can’t handle that anymore,” she said.
Secret #6: Give yourself one cheat day
But she isn’t on her diet every day.
“Friday’s my cheat day — I don’t go overboard with cheating, but that’s my day.”
She usually gets a weekly latte and goes out for a nice dinner, still eating somewhat healthy, with a salad or a protein with a vegetable side dish. And the occasional ice cream.
After all of this weight loss, Ianuale feels amazing.
“I feel like I can do anything,” she said.
“I have never been this weight or close to it before in my (adult) life. This is not a diet, it’s a life change. This is my new lifestyle and I will never go back.”