Meet Kara: Her life after losing 182 pounds
Kara is third from Alice in Wonderland
Kara is third from the left
“I run to be the kind of parent I want to be…I want to demonstrate to my kids the importance of a healthy lifestyle.”
In 2008, Kara decided that she needed to take aggressive steps in her life-long battle with obesity and opted to have bariatric surgery. Her procedure was performed in 2010.
But surgery was only half of Kara’s quest for improved health. Despite having no experience with exercising, this Michigan mother of two and employee benefits professional resolved to take control of her body and fitness. Her results and her story are inspiring.
A lifetime of struggles with weight from the time she was about 10 years old, Kara battled excess weight. By the time she was in her late 20s, she had reached almost 400 pounds. Sickness and exhaustion were part of her everyday life. “I was very ill,” Kara says.
During this time, Kara’s mother read an article on polycystic ovary syndrome and wondered if this could be impacting Kara’s weight. After six weeks of treatment, Kara had lost 50 pounds and was able to overcome infertility problems that had been plaguing her personal life.
Managing her polycystic ovary syndrome allowed Kara to have two successful pregnancies and experience some weight loss. But post pregnancy, her weight crept back up to 350 pounds.
In 2008, Kara opted to have weight loss surgery. This decision did not come easily—Kara was not having other health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure, so deciding to have the surgery was really a “pre-emptive strike” at future health problems and to set an example for her children.
“My overall goal for having the weight-loss surgery was to better demonstrate to my kids the importance of a healthy lifestyle and treating the body you have been given in the proper way—that includes diet and exercise,” says Kara.
Kara’s family and physicians were supportive of her choice. Her endocrinologist called Kara a “poster child for people who truly need the surgery” due to her metabolic and hormonal issues.
In early 2010, Kara underwent the surgical procedure.
Exercise: Kara’s new frontier
Having surgery and losing weight was only part of Kara’s fitness battle. At age 40, Kara was a virtual stranger to exercise.
“When I was younger, I didn’t want to engage in physical activity because of my weight,” Kara says. “I couldn’t do what the other kids did and felt really inhibited.”
Kara started to exercise to prepare for surgery. “Before my surgery, it took me 32 minutes to walk a mile on a treadmill, and every time it felt like I was going to die,” says Kara. “I wouldn’t have run even if you chased me with a weapon.”
Fortunately, with her new body came a new motivation. Kara reached a 100-pound loss in August, 2010, due to both her pre- and post-surgery efforts. When she hit this milestone, she made a commitment to run the Disney Beauty & the Beast 5k in February, 2011.
“The 5k coincided with my ‘surgi-versary,’” Kara says, “and by the time the race came around I had lost another 70 pounds.”
Kara’s performance at the Princess was a rousing success. “I told everyone I was going to walk it, but I ran it instead!” Kara says. “I came across the finish line surrounded by a supportive group of Disney friends who I consider ‘real runners’ who only did this race for me. I held the hands of my friends Katie and Liz high in the air. I sobbed at the end with joy. Truly, it was my victory lap.”
Enjoying her accomplishments:
Today, Kara walks and runs three to four times a week and marvels at what she has accomplished.
“I am proud of what I have achieved,” Kara says. “You cannot imagine how great it feels to not carry around the equivalent of a whole other person on your back.”
You might think that someone experiencing such a dramatic weight loss would be fixated on the look of her new body—but Kara’s delight has nothing to do with her appearance.
“For me, the joy of being healthy is that it allows me to be the kind of parent I want to be,” says Kara. “Being able to demonstrate to my children that it is good to live a healthy life is much more important than buying smaller clothes.”
Kara will be inducted into Henry Ford Hospital's Centurion Club on Tuesday, July 12, in recognition of her losing over 100 lbs. She is at a 193 lb. loss now. Maybe they need to give her double membership!