Transformation Tuesday: The Incredible Kari!

Before

One day in 2011, Kari Ianuale was getting dressed for work and was having a difficult time buttoning up her size 24 pants. When this had happened in the past, she’d simply buy a larger size of clothes, hoping this would mask her weight gain.

But not this time. This time was different, and Kari had a bit of a meltdown right there in front of the mirror. She knew trying to mask her weight gain in bigger clothes was not the answer. At that moment, she decided she needed to change her life—this too-small pair of size 24 pants was her “light bulb” moment.

When Kari began her transformation journey, she weighed 301 pounds. She now weighs about half that. Amazing, right?! Since Kari has achieved such an awesome at-home transformation, I wanted to pick her brain and have her share her secrets for success. And while much of what she learned during her journey is pretty common as far as transformations go (eating the right foods, moving your body, and so forth), Kari has some great insights that I hope will give you at-home transformers some ideas to help you achieve your goals.

So…ladies and gents, I give you the incredible Kari!

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Heidi: Hi Kari! It’s so fun to chat with you! While transforming can be hard at times, what was the easiest change for you when you began your journey?

Kari: The easiest, believe it or not, was implementing exercise. Once I started, I actually enjoyed it. It made me feel better after a stressful day at work, and sweating actually was cleansing for me—and boy, do I sweat. Lol. My first workouts were painful in the moment and through the next day or so. Breathing was an issue with cardio due to my size, and I am also an ex-smoker, so I am sure this played its part as well. I would always keep telling myself, “Don’t be a quitter!” If I would quit this, then it would be easier in the future to quit other things.

H: Love that! What’s your workout routine like now?

K: I like to challenge myself all the time and working out around a lot of other people keeps me competitive. When I first started at the gym I was intimidated, to say the least, but I knew I had to do this for me. I also knew that I wanted to run. I was never a runner growing up and never understood why people would run, especially when no one was chasing them! Lol. I started out walking on the treadmill and switched it up by increasing the incline and slowly worked my way up to running for short periods of time (very short periods of time). I have currently done a couple of ½ marathons and my best time is 2:14. My best time on a 5k is 24:43. I am also contemplating on steering my fitness goals towards more weight training. I love the way my arms and muscles look, and I’m having a blast molding my body!

DURING

H: Awesome! So, I’m curious: Way back at the beginning of your journey, what did you tell yourself when you wanted to quit, or when you really didn’t want to do what you knew you needed to do?

K: There were days when I thought that this was too tough, and these were the days I argued with myself to get my butt in gear and that I had come way too far to give up now. No matter how crappy I felt prior to walking into that gym, I knew I would feel like a million bucks after I was done. The fear of going backwards is always what gets me through. When you have been on both ends of the spectrum, trust me, this side is so much better!

H: What about staying on track with your eating plan? That’s a tough one for anyone who’s trying to transform.

K: Coming from a person who loves food—and food was always my go-to for everything—it’s a struggle on a daily basis, especially since I have a sweet tooth. My husband and I will spoil ourselves every so many weeks and go out for ice cream, which is definitely a weak spot for me. Other than that I try to stay on track. I used to be one of those yo-yo dieters. I was always looking for that quick fix. I was lazy and never wanted to sweat. This time was different. I never intended to end up where I am today, but something just clicked in my head, and it has been full steam ahead ever since.

H: I totally believe you! Besides that size 24 pair of pants, how did you figure out the “why” behind your weight issues?

K: I have always been one who really cared what other people were thinking about me. When people used to tell me that I needed to lose weight or I was overweight, I would turn that into anger towards them and then turn towards food for comfort. Some people just don’t understand, they think, “What is the big deal? Just stop eating or start exercising.” If it was that easy, smokers should be able to just stop smoking or alcoholics should be able to just stop drinking. Food is an addiction. Once I realized that my opinion was the one that mattered, and that I needed to learn to love myself again, things became easier. I still struggle every day with my past, and it will always be there. It is a part of who I am. I have just learned to push past it and move forward.

H: Kari, I couldn’t have said that better myself! So many of our peeps go through this same process, and once they realize their “why,” the sky’s the limit! Here’s another question: What one piece of advice would you give those who are 110% convinced they can’t do this at home?

K: I get that some people need more help than others to stay on task, but I do believe that deep down inside all of us have the strength to do this on our own. It is just simply easier to make excuses as to why we can’t. I used to be that person, so I know full well all the excuses. I have some issues from a couple of car accidents, so it became so easy to just use that as an excuse rather than do anything. I still have some pain from time to time, but I let nothing get in the way of me anymore! I do know if you want something badly enough, then you can do it, and the only thing stopping you is you. I am living proof that it can be done. I did it with no trainers or coaches. That being said, it is also important to reach out to people who are in the same boat as you or to true friends or family members for support.

H: You are so inspirational? What is your favorite quote or mantra that keeps YOU inspired?

K: I have two: “Discipline*Dedication*Determination!” And “Eat to live, not live to eat.” I live by both of these.

H: Love those! Now…tell me about some of the things you’ve been able to do post-transformation that you couldn’t do before?

K: The first one was when I was able to run a mile for the first time without stopping or slowing down. The second was when I ran my first 5k. When I completed my first half marathon, I broke down and cried. Another great milestone was when I tried on my very first pair of size 8 jeans and they actually fit! I cried right there in the changing room. Some others: I can actually go to amusement parks and fit into the seats, I love to dance at functions, and I feel confident at the gym and just about anywhere I go. If you would have told the old Kari that she would be curling 35-40 lbs. per arm and running ½ marathons, she would have laughed at you and said, “I think you have the wrong person!” Lol. 🙂

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H: Those are amazing—I can’t imagine how you must feel! One thing you brought up during our conversation is that excess skin. I loved your thoughts about this—would you please share them with all of us?

K: It does not bother me to talk about it because it is the nature of the beast—it’s common sense that anyone who loses over ½ her body weight is going to have loose skin and stretch marks. Clothes can only hide so much. Lol. I want to be able to complete my journey, but I am not happy with the way that I look yet because of the loose skin. These, however, are my scars of what I have done to myself—a daily reminder of why I needed to make a change, and why I can’t go back. I have done some research into skin removal surgery, and health insurance does not cover this at all. It is something that may be in my future if I win the lottery. Lol. Until then, I will continue to strength train, drink my water, and do my cardio. I have heard that all of these will play a part in tightening up loose skin, to a point, anyway, but I will take what I can get.

H: Thank you for sharing that—I hear from so many people who have lost all those pounds and have this same excess skin issue. I love your attitude! One last thing—what are you doing to pay it forward, besides sharing your story with all of us? You’ve been a pretty popular lady!

K: The publicity surrounding my journey was a surprise, and still is kinda’ surreal. It started out as a simple suggestion from a friend to enter an article in our local newspaper, which was published. Next came a CNN iReport, an interview with Fox 29 Weekend in Philadelphia, and an article in Woman’s World magazine! The end of February 2015, I was their cover girl on the magazine!!! Then I met you, and even though this had nothing to do with my journey, this was an ultimate surprise for me. Since you are one of my idols (and one of the sweetest people out there), there’s nothing better for a fan than to meet someone she looks up to and have that person be so down to earth and kind.

Kari HP WWmag

H: Awww…Kari, you’re too sweet. It was an honor meeting you! Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, and I know it will help many, many people who are on their own transformation journeys.

Well, there you go, guys! Another amazing at-home transformation. If you’d like to begin your own transformation journey but don’t quite know where to start, check out the same program we use on Extreme Weight Loss here. And no matter how you do it, I know you CAN do it!

Xoxo,

Heidi

Want to connect with Kari?

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Want more inspiration? Check out these other amazing at-home transformations.

Are you, or someone you know, on the weight loss journey of a lifetime? I want to hear about it! Send your transformation tale to [email protected] for the opportunity to have your story shared right here on the blog.


31 Comments

  1. Michelle - July 1, 2015

    Congratulations to your successful journey. You look amazing. I relate so much to what you have said..I too have been on my weight loss journey for a year…gone from size 22 to 10 now. I really needed to hear how you are handling the excess skin. Keep up the hard work.. It’s for life

    • Kari Ianuale - July 8, 2015

      Hi Michelle,

      I am just dealing with the excess skin for now. Because I lost it at a good rate it did shrink some with me over time. I have also read that staying hydrated, doing cardio and lifting weight will help but of course the skin will never go back 100%. So until i can swing the cost of skin removal surgery I will continue my weight training, running and drinking lots of water 🙂

      Kari

  2. Erika - June 23, 2015

    Wow great job! I wish I could lose weight! It’s so hard for me to do so, after 2 years of trying. I have a food addiction that I do not know how to fix. I would love to hear some tips on how to change, especially on a low income budget. It’s starting to get to me that I can not look like I used to for myself and my husband 🙁

  3. Kathleen - June 10, 2015

    Hi Heidi!

    I just wanted to say thank you! I sent you a comment on Instagram earlier this year asking for advice for getting fit. I just want you to know I am now down almost 40 lbs!! You and Chris are a huge inspiration and I love reading your blog, following you on Instagram and watching the show! Last season I would have watched the show with a box of cheez-its in my lap, this season, I get up every commercial and do an exercise or walk around the living room. Thank you so much for the inspiration!

    Here is my transformation Tuesday!

    [IMG]http://i61.tinypic.com/2it5vg1.jpg[/IMG]

    http://i61.tinypic.com/2it5vg1.jpg

    • Team Powell - June 10, 2015

      This is awesome! Thank you for sharing your amazing progress with all of us!

  4. Deborah F - June 10, 2015

    Fantastic story! Love the one where you are holding up your “fat” pants. I can relate to that, now down 30 lbs and 3 pant sizes. To everybody out there: GET RID OF YOUR FAT CLOTHES! I immediately put them in a bag to GoodWill. And keep going. What an inspiration, Kari! So happy for you.

    • Kari Ianuale - June 11, 2015

      I agree ditch those fat clothes!!! The salvation Army made out big time with all of my clothes lol. I did hold onto a couple of things though so i was able to take after photos in them.

      Congrats on your weight loss! Thank you for reading and responding 🙂

  5. Michelle - June 9, 2015

    I think your transformation is amazing. You have over come so many hurdles that are still in my path. I commend you and look up to you. I’m trying to improve my health by eating better and exercising but I find that I’m only exercising 30 minutes a day. To get the results you’ve had and many of the clients at the boot camp, what would you guys recommend the daily exercise regime be?

    • Team Powell - June 9, 2015

      Chris and Heidi recommend up to 60 minutes of cardio Monday through Friday. Learn more about the exercise part of their carb cycling program here: http://heidipowell.net/9059/all-about-exercise-2/. Hope that helps!

    • Kari Ianuale - June 10, 2015

      I def agree upping the workout time if you are not achieving the goals that you want. Maybe you might want to try increasing the intensity to raise you heartbeat to burn more calories.

  6. Claire Hart - June 9, 2015

    Thanks for that little motivation. Between lack of sleep, and exams I have not been to the gym. Although l have just taken the dogs walking. Back to it. I have those Michilean mean to lose from my guts.

  7. Lisa - June 9, 2015

    what an awesome testimony ! I have about 50 pounds to loose but the prison of self loathe is the same as if I had 150. Thank you !! We are worth so much more than our minds tell us!

  8. kelly Aristide - June 9, 2015

    Hello mrs heidi im kelly 20 years and im from mauritius island… i weighs 220 pounds and really dnt knw hw to lose weight ..i had always dreamed of having a healthy life…and of being in your emission
    The extreme weightloss edition…can you please mrs powell accept my request…

  9. Veronica - June 9, 2015

    Thank you for sharing your story! Congratulations on your hard work and success~

    I’m on day 4 of following the 12 week transformation challenge and your story and insights have helped me move beyond the hunger and cravings that came on strong today! Thanks!!

    Just wondering…. I have a sweet tooth too… do the cravings ever go away?

    • Kari Ianuale - June 10, 2015

      My craving have not, It is a daily battle to maintain and steer clear of those temptations. As long as you know what you want out of life it does make staying away from the cravings easier. It is ok once in a while to treat yourself though. I look forward to those times.

  10. Jackie - June 9, 2015

    awesone work Kari!

    One of my favourite quotes to keep on track is:
    “Nothing tastes as good as slim feels”
    I have it on my fridge lol

    • Kari Ianuale - June 9, 2015

      Wow, that is a great saying. I love it and it is so true!

  11. gayle collier - June 9, 2015

    I have about the same to lose. Does she have a blog? Would like to know the steps she took. Just treadmill until she lost the weight and the strength training? I will also re-read this article too. I will be on my own doing this as well.

  12. notmorrell - June 9, 2015

    Amazing, great job!

  13. Kerri - June 9, 2015

    Great job! Love your arms and all of the muscle tone you have! You look fabulous!

  14. Armazia - June 9, 2015

    I think you guys should pay for her skin removal surgery. You are her idol 🙂

  15. Sarah Riley - June 9, 2015

    What an inspiration! Congratulations, you look amazing!

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