How Kristina A. Lost 45 Pounds and Found Happiness

Scroll down to see Kristina’s before and after transformation.
Kristina A. lost 45 pounds! (Image: Mike Moore/LIVESTRONG.COM)

First Name and Initial of Last Name: Kristina A.

LIVE**STRONG**.COM Username: kristinamalia

LIVESTRONG.COM Member Since: October 2017

Age: 36 | Height: 5'3"

BEFORE Weight: 155 | Dress/Pant Size: 10/40

AFTER Weight: 110.5 | Dress/Pant Size: 4/27

Kristina’s weight-loss transformation
Kristina A. lost 45 pounds by tracking her food in the MyPlate app. (Image: Mike Moore/LIVESTRONG.COM)

LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your life like before joining LIVESTRONG.COM?

Before committing to lose weight and take control of my health, my weight and size fluctuated constantly. Between the ages of 25 and 35, I would yo-yo between approximately 120 and 160 pounds. I was constantly unhappy with my body and wished parts of it would look different. I got very good at criticizing and hating my body.

My diet was very unstable and unbalanced. I was not paying attention to how many calories I was ingesting or what vitamins, nutrients or food groups I was eating. I just ate to eat. I ate what tasted good and what was easy. I wasn’t eating to live, I was living to eat. I often ate fast food. I love pizza, pasta and bread, and an excess of refined carbohydrates is why I believe I gained a lot of my weight. I was drinking socially, which added sugar and empty calories to my diet. I did not have a regular exercise plan, nor did I have any exercise I enjoyed doing.

I went to LIVESTRONG.COM to check my BMI when I first started my weight-loss journey in early October 2017, and it was 27.45. The overweight category is 25 to 29.99. I was not in a good place, and I knew something needed to change.

Kristina holds an old photo of herself on her phone
Before getting healthy, Kristina felt sluggish and unhappy. (Image: Mike Moore/LIVESTRONG.COM)

LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your inspiration for making a change?

I became very unhappy with my body while living in Korea in 2014. I was in my mid-30s and not living a healthy lifestyle. It was a combination of what I was eating, when I was eating it, my age and having no regular exercise regimen. I found a gym in my neighborhood and did yoga occasionally. I also would go on hikes and walks with friends periodically, but nothing stuck.

While visiting Thailand, I had an incident that confirmed my need to make a change. I was volunteering at a local elementary school and had worn comfortable, flowy pants. I went to crouch down to sit next to a student, and heard a terrible ripping sound. My new pants had ripped at the seam! I was mortified. As funny as it was, I also knew that I never wanted to go through that humiliation again.

When I made the decision to move back in late winter of 2017, I made a vow that I would take time for myself once I returned to America. I would find out how to lose the weight and keep it off.

LIVESTRONG.COM: How did LIVESTRONG.COM help you lose weight?

LIVESTRONG.COM has helped me in many ways. I downloaded the MyPlate app to track my daily caloric intake prior to beginning my diet. I was determined to make this work, so I wanted to be very strict. I found that entering the foods I ate daily became like a game, and I enjoyed doing it. It also helped me to see how much food I could eat in a day, as I had no knowledge of the caloric value of the foods I was eating.

I subscribed to the LIVESTRONG.COM newsletter and would read a lot of the health and fitness articles. I enjoy the articles and find they often relate to my journey. I learned new things and continue to learn. I subscribed to receive the daily Stronger meal plans to get ideas for healthy, low-calorie snacks and meals, which I love.

I started my weight-loss journey on October 12, 2017, and I am still going. It took me five months to lose 32.5 pounds, and I am not done yet! I was not expecting to see those kinds of results in that amount of time. I am proud of my progress. I haven’t missed a day of tracking my calories on the MyPlate app. I like to see my weekly and monthly progress on the progress chart. It also helps to know that there are communities out there, whether online or in person, that have people going through similar things and who think about similar issues. The LIVESTRONG.COM articles show me that.

Kristina shows a day of tracking on the MyPlate app
Kristina uses the MyPlate app daily to track her calories. (Image: Mike Moore/LIVESTRONG.COM)

LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your support system like?

I have had a great support system around me during my weight-loss journey. I moved home from Korea in 2017 and was living with my parents on Maui. It was such a beautiful and inspirational place to begin my journey. Despite all of the delicious food just steps away, I was able to start and stick to my strict diet the entire three months that I lived there. My parents were huge supporters. They were mindful of what they brought into the house. My mom was also on her own weight-loss journey and she lost more than 40 pounds over the course of two years. I am so proud of her! She showed me what smaller portion sizes look like and provided healthier versions of our favorite foods.

While on Maui, I did not have many close friends nearby, and that was OK. It actually helped my diet because I was not being put in situations where I’d need to go out to eat or socialize. I stayed in, shopped for my food at the grocery store and was incredibly strict.

My friend Katie has been an incredible supporter throughout this process and journey. She suggested that I start to make social media posts about my progress so others could get inspiration. I agreed and have amassed a bit of a following! I was hesitant to post a “before and “after” photo, because I wanted to wait until I reached my end goal. Katie urged me to not wait because people like to see progress.

That is what inspired me to enter the LIVESTRONG.COM monthly Before and After Contest. I had results, and I thought I had a chance of winning! At the very least, I’d get to share my story. I ended up winning and was ecstatic! Sharing my story was also very therapeutic. If I can inspire someone to get up and go to the gym or make a healthy food choice, it will all be worth it. I am grateful to the LIVESTRONG.COM team for providing these opportunities and for everyone in my life that has encouraged, believed in and supported me along the way!

Kristina poses on outdoor steps
Kristina found it therapeutic to share her weight-loss story. (Image: Mike Moore/LIVESTRONG.COM)

LIVESTRONG.COM: What’s your favorite way to work out?

I have never enjoyed running or cardio. I’ve tried it in spurts because that’s what everyone does, but it has never stuck. When I moved to Maui, I was determined to find an exercise other than running that I could do, and it would be a bonus if I enjoyed it. I signed up for a free week at a studio near my parents' house before even landing in Maui. I was ready! I started my free week doing a few yoga and mat Pilates classes. I tried a reformer Pilates class and fell in love! I was hooked. I began attending reformer Pilates classes two to five times a week and really looked forward to going!

Kristina stretches on her Pilates Reformer.
Kristina’s preferred method of exercise is Pilates. (Image: Mike Moore/LIVESTRONG.COM)

LIVESTRONG.COM: What’s your weekly exercise schedule?

I was doing reformer Pilates two to five times a week, but due to a lower-back injury, I’ve cut back. Over the past few months, I’ve focused on rehabilitating my back. I am starting to attend Pilates and yoga classes again as it heals.

LIVESTRONG.COM: What’s a typical day of meals and snacks?

On days that I work, I eat two meals a day and a lot of healthy snacks in between. I start my day with a protein shake. I have two midmorning snacks that usually consist of fruit or a protein bar. I have another snack midday, usually vegetables, cheese or apple slices. For dinner, I usually have a Lean Cuisine or a protein with vegetable sides. I’ll have one last snack just before bed.

The days that I don’t work are similar, but I usually have time for a turkey corn dog or tuna salad for lunch.

LIVESTRONG.COM: What’s the range of calories you eat per day?

Based on my age, weight, height, energy expenditure and ideal weight, I found that I need to consume 1,200 calories per day. This puts me in a 500 calorie per day deficiency, which equates to about one to two pounds lost per week.

LIVESTRONG.COM: What are the healthy staples that are always in your kitchen?

I keep tons of fresh vegetables, including asparagus, roasted sweet potatoes and zucchini. I love making salads with romaine hearts, yellow bell peppers, baby carrots and cucumbers. I’m sure to always have fruits like avocados, lemons, pears and blackberries. In my pantry, I keep extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette and various seasonings.

My favorite healthy snacks are beet chips, coconut balls, guacamole, hummus, Isagenix Whey Thins, cheese, hard-boiled eggs and pickled vegetables.

I keep a variety of healthy frozen foods on hand for when I’m short on time. I love meatless breakfast patties, cauliflower pizza crust, zucchini noodles and Lean Cuisine dinners.

Kristina prepares a protein shake
Kristina starts each day with a protein shake. (Image: Mike Moore/LIVESTRONG.COM)

LIVESTRONG.COM: How do you strategize for meals?

I’m constantly thinking about what I’ll eat for my next meal. I try to think about how much protein, healthy fats and carbs will be in my meal so I can stay full longer. I realize the importance of balance in my diet and have started to actually listen to my body. I will have certain cravings, and I believe they’re for a reason.

I go grocery shopping twice a week and plan out all of my potential lunches and dinners for the upcoming three to four days. I make sure to have plenty of healthy snack options on hand too. Since moving to Southern California, I have discovered a lot of affordable grocery stores have things I’d never seen before, such as zucchini noodles, cauliflower rice and healthier frozen options. I also love cooking and baking when I have the time, and I enjoy researching and finding new and healthy recipes!

LIVESTRONG.COM: What’s the biggest challenge you faced?

The biggest challenge I faced was having to find happiness in places other than food. Changing your mindset is not easy, and it takes time. None of my weight loss could have happened without major daily lifestyle changes. Food is something we need in order to live, but it also can be the cause of our destruction. I was abusing it before and not utilizing food as fuel. Shifting my thought process was not an easy task.

I think I realized that I would be OK when I felt satisfied after a healthy meal. I could see results with more protein, less carbs and my protein shakes. Once I gained that confidence, my challenge became my achievement. I was bigger and stronger than ever. I felt like I could do anything. What an amazing feeling!

Kristina reads a book
Throughout her journey, Kristina learned different ways to find happiness. (Image: Mike Moore/LIVESTRONG.COM)

LIVESTRONG.COM: What’s your biggest secret to success that you want to share with others?

I believe planning is how I’m able to have long-term success. If I don’t pack my own lunch or have healthy snacks available to me, I will make bad choices. It’s about a lifestyle, not just losing the weight initially. I created my #fabandfitforever hashtag, because the challenge for me was to get the weight off and change my habits. I can proudly say I have, and now I’m keeping it off in a sustainable and happy way.

The advice that I would give to anyone trying to make a positive change in their health is to identify your reasons for changing and what exactly you want to achieve. Some things that have helped me along the way are reading nutrition labels, cutting out sugary drinks, stocking up on spices and substituting healthy foods for my favorite junk foods. For example, instead of regular pizza, I use a cauliflower crust. I use dates or bananas for natural sugars. I add zucchini or avocado when baking muffins.

If I can do it, so can you. Something clicked when I turned 35. I realized this is going to be the only body I get in this lifetime, so I better take good care of it. Also, don’t wait until you’ve reached your goal to be proud of yourself. Be proud of every step you take toward reaching that goal. Celebrate the small successes. It’s all about you!

Do not completely deprive yourself. If you do that all of the time, it will not last. It’s OK to treat yourself — in moderation — to the foods you love. If you fall off the wagon one day, don’t give up and think it’s not worth it. It is. You can get right back on tomorrow.

Find a community and support. Talk about the foods you miss or what you’ve discovered as a healthy alternative. Laugh about things along the way. After all, this is a journey, and it’s best to find people to share it with. It may be an online community or in-person community. It is best to have both! Be accountable to yourself. If it helps to tell someone else or make a post on social media, do it!

Kristina models an old pair of shorts
Kristina’s secrets to success include finding a community, identifying your goals and holding yourself accountable. (Image: Mike Moore/LIVESTRONG.COM)

LIVESTRONG.COM: What’s your life like now?

My life is wonderful now. My life was wonderful back then too, but I was so consumed with focusing on how unhappy I was with my body. Now that I don’t do that anymore, I can exert that energy somewhere else.

I still use MyPlate on a daily basis to keep track of my calories. This is the fifth month that I’ve been tracking, and I enjoy it. I don’t plan to track forever, but for now it is working very well for me. I receive the LIVESTRONG.COM emails with informative articles like “9 Sneaky Ways to Trick Yourself Out of Snacking” and 10 Ways Changing How You Think Promotes Weight Loss.”

I have learned to celebrate my success and be happy with my progress. I’ve realized that is an ongoing journey. I can be happy about my body and myself today and feel completely different tomorrow, and that’s OK. But, overall, I am extremely proud of myself for committing to this and making it a reality!

The improvements I’ve made to my overall health are enormous. I feel so much healthier and not so sluggish. I have more energy, and my skin is glowing. My old clothing fits again, and I am excited to go shopping for more! At 21.25, my BMI is now in the healthy range. I realized that I actually like and enjoy a lot of healthy foods. What I put in my body does matter, and has repercussions. I can control my health and diet. I can be healthy, look good and be at my ideal weight. I can do it!

If this story does anything for you, I hope it has shown you that you can also be #fabandfitforever! Life is a gift! Let’s enjoy it to the max while achieving balance for our bodies and our minds! Here’s to your journey!

Have you own story to tell? Email us at support@livestrong.com for details on how to share! To get started on your fitness journey, join us today on LIVESTRONG.COM or by downloading the MyPlate app.

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