An Incredible Healthy Lifestyle Transformation!

Last summer my wife showed me pictures of a friend’s daughter that had completely reinvented herself physically.  She had decided to start living a healthy lifestyle and watched as the weight just melted off.  Her name is Paulina Karolak and I was so intrigued by her story that I reached out to her and asked if she would allow me to interview her for Dream Big.

This post is longer that my usual, but it is such an incredible transformation that I wanted to ask lots of questions for my readers.  Her change was the result of desire, perseverance, determination and will.  Paulina is the perfect example of what can be accomplished when the mind is changed.  Anyone can do it, you just have to want it bad enough!

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BD: What sparked you to begin living a healthy lifestyle?


I had been overweight my whole life. About a year and a half ago, I attended a bariatric surgery seminar at my local hospital. I went to this seminar to support one of my family members. During this experience, I had been informed that I qualified for bariatric surgery. This news shocked me and made me question my life choices, my health and my future. After being offered to have bariatric surgery, I consulted my primary physician for his advice. My doctor gave me his opinion and talked to me about a natural weight loss option using a low carb diet. At first I thought the diet won’t work as all the others I had tried and I would just end up having the bariatric surgery and it will be great. I will have a surgery which will make me skinny and I won’t have to work too hard to make that happen. However, after doing further research about the surgery I learned that the recovery and weight loss process is just as intense as losing weight naturally. This really discourage me from having the surgery and really sparked a fire in me to take in all the information my physician gave me about this low carb diet and I went with it. At this point I felt so horribly about myself for being so overweight, hating how I looked, who I was and how others looked at me. I was determined to make the necessary changes needed and nothing was going to stop me.

BD: What did you do to educate yourself about losing weight?


As mentioned above, I spoke with my doctor who sat with me for over an hour to explain to me the science behind weight loss and the foods I should stay away from and the ones I could indulge on. I am no scientist and this might be completely inaccurate but I will do my best to explain what he had explained to me – He explained that our bodies need sugar to function daily. When your body does not have sugar to run off of it will dig into your fat supply and use that instead. Therefore, restricting your body of sugar and simple carbohydrates will cause your body to burn fat without exercising. He said to me “Listen just eat whatever you want and however much you want of it as long as it doesn’t contain sugar or simple carbohydrate.” I could eat bacon, cheese, meats and dairy. I was really surprised by all the information he had provided me and I was ready to try it out to see if it really worked.

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BD: Give an example of your eating prior to living a healthy lifestyle.


I ate everything and anything. I never even thought about calories or carbs. I was really uneducated about what I was consuming and how it impacted my body. I love chocolate. In past I could eat a whole bag of cookies in one sitting. There was not a day in my past that I would not eat dessert. I would eat pizza, pasta, bagels. All things I now stay away from or try to make healthier.

BD:  Give an example of your eating after the change.


I really eat everything except for sugar and simple carbohydrates. If there are foods that are typically unhealthy that I am craving I will research how to make them healthier. I often cook pizza. I will buy whole wheat pizza dough from Trader Joe’s and top it with a lot of veggies and protein. I eat many salads, lean meats. I still enjoy food from restaurants. One of my favorites is Chipotle which has great healthy options. Since I love chocolate, I have also found ways to continue eating it under my new lifestyle. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods sells many chocolates that are sweetened naturally and/or sugar free. In addition, I eat quest protein bars which are really great. They contain a lot of protein to keep you satisfied and taste like dessert.

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BD:  What are noticeable differences after losing weight?


I am so much happier, stronger and energetic. Shopping is so much fun now. Weight Loss Tip – It is very expensive to lose weight because you will have to pay for all new clothing. But this isn’t such a bad thing. It’s been fun building a new wardrobe from scratch. I went from a size 14 to a size 0.

BD:  When did you begin your lifestyle transformation?


I began my lifestyle transformation in March of 2014.

BD:  How much weight have you lost to date?


I have lost a little over 80 pounds now. My starting weight was 206 pounds and I currently weigh anywhere from 124-127. I have been at this weight now for a few months and I feel very comfortable here. (I am 5 foot tall)

BD:  Challenges you’ve experienced?


I feel like losing the weight was easy. Keeping it off is the challenge. In the beginning, it was so exciting to me to get on the scale and watch as the number read lower and lower each week. This pushed me harder each day to eat better and to work out harder. Now that I am in the maintenance stage, I feel myself being less motivated and eating foods that I perhaps would not have eaten during my weight loss stage. This is something that I struggle with daily.

BD:  Advice you could give someone that is overweight and reluctant to try a healthy lifestyle?


I have been where you are and I know how you feel. Trust me all of the chocolate, cake and candy could not be any better than how amazing you will feel once you lose weight. I used Instagram to see what others were eating and what they were doing at the gym. This has been where I learned the most of my healthy lifestyle information.

BD:  Things you enjoy now post weight loss that you were not capable of prior.


Being active. I always dreamed about being able to go outside and run a race or play a sport. I was so envious of others and now I can be that person that I have always wanted to be. My weight no longer limits my life.

BD:  Cookbook recommendations?


I would really recommend I use many of the recipes on this website. Especially the Chicken Taco Chili and the Turkey Meatballs.

BD:  General overall observations about the process of living a health lifestyle.


Many people think that living a healthy lifestyle is really difficult but with the proper knowledge you can make healthy choices even on the go. I often meal prep so that I always have healthy foods ready to eat in order to avoid choosing something unhealthy.

BD:  What type of supporting cast did you have?  Workout buddy?  And how did having support influence your success?


To be honest I didn’t really have a gym buddy or much of a support system in the beginning. My family and friends figured that this “new diet” would end quickly like every other time I tried to lose weight. Therefore, no one really paid much attention until I had lost a significant amount of weight. Once that happened then everyone was asking me how I did it and if they could know all my secrets. Currently, I still don’t have a consistent gym buddy, but my boyfriend does join me at the gym once in a while. I like to use my gym time as “me time” where I can let go of all the hectic things going on in my life and just enjoy being alone and being in sync with my body.

As I stated above I hope that there are those that read this and realize they can do the same thing.  You need desire and a plan…and perseverance!



55 thoughts on “An Incredible Healthy Lifestyle Transformation!

  1. I would never recommend eat whatever you want minus sugar. Besides the obvious such things as bacon, pepperoni, salami, and sausage should be a very rare treat. I know. I’ve had that triple by-pass.

    1. I have researched the very thing you mention. My doctor explained that in some cases the benefits of low carb are far more beneficial than the risks associated. If someone has so much fat surrounding vital organs, then the priority is to get the fat off of the organs and do so as quickly as possible. If I am remembering correctly, that is the exact reason Dr. Atkins started his eating plan. To get fat off of surgery patients in a very short amount of time. So sometimes you have to weigh the risk reward. In this instance you cannot look at the end result and say that it was not a good thing. There is a bigger picture.

    1. I have read her story 3 or 4 times and am still amazed at her. I lost 23 pounds in 6 months so I know how tough it is, but she really taught me the truth in “the longest of journeys begins with a single step.”

  2. Several years ago, i shed 78 lbs in under six months (from an under 5-ft frame). Has to be one of the best feelings in the world. I think we all know, too, that as challenging as weight loss can be — and as laudable as success at it is — keeping it off can be even more difficult. I wish her continued success.

    1. Congrats to you and I agree with the keeping weight off. It is easy to start eating more cake, junk and processed foods which will add back weight quickly!

  3. In 2010 I weighed 175 pounds. I never thought I could lose the weight. One day after being filled with lots of anxiety I decided I would start walking to get rid of it. I pulled out my old phone, put on tunes, and then started. That summer I lost 6 pounds. Slowly it kept coming off and now in 2015 my weight fluctuates from 114-120. I also watch my diet, mostly fat intake and carbs. Once I felt comfortable I did allow myself small, treat now and again. A mini candy bar once in a while. I’ve done well keeping it off. There is hope for everyone! It’s not easy but do-able. I never thought I’d lose weight. I always thought I would be fat.

  4. This is amazing! I have a tiny gut I need to get rid of this and this is really motivating! I’m going to throw away mg overly sweet dunkin donuts iced coffee too right now😄

    1. Humans looked at the sky and said “one day we will fly.” “One day we will walk in space.” “One day we will build buildings to reach the heavens!” Dream big dreams!

  5. Good for her! Society is failing many of its children by not educating them about healthy eating. Eating mostly plant based and limiting processed or prepared/packaged foods and you can’t go wrong in most cases. We seem to have lost this somewhere in the last few generations as our populations are increasingly overweight and unhealthy.

  6. Weight is not my challenge, but I spent too many years of my life procrastinating.
    I admire her perseverance. I now believe people can do most anything they put their mind to doing. You just have to believe and try very hard. Good going!

  7. I have never been overweight, but when I turned 40 in 2000 I decided to make a lifestyle change due to sick and tired of being sick and tired. I started exercising and eating better and quit smoking and after a year of being very dedicated to my plan I built muscle and went to a 4% body fat. This may be an extreme body fat for most people, I it was a healthy body fat for me considering I was eating very healthy. It took an extreme dedication on my part and I gained much from the experience. 16 years later, the % body fat is a little higher and due to some injuries I have lost some muscle and for the most part still eat healthy. The point is making any changes for the good in return you receive some good results. Congratulations to her for a job well done – keep it up!

    1. What great story you have too! 4% body fat takes a tremendous dedication to eating the right foods! I am happy for you that you still live a healthy lifestyle!

  8. Great interview and awesome transformation! I don’t totally agree with the “eat whatever you want as long as it’s not carbs.” I totally get cutting or decreasing carbs for a short period of time but complex carbohydrates are good for your body. It’s always good to implement a diet that you can stick with long term.

      1. She followed that plan until she purged enough fat off her body to not be considered dangerous. Once again, under the supervision of her doctor. Beyond that, I’m not sure. Most no carb regimens are instituted in dire situations and once the person reaches a predeterminded weight, they slowly introduce good carbs back into the diet.

  9. When I quit sugar, I lost 6 pounds in a week and have continued to lose ever since (not 6 pounds every time though, which is okay!). I only eat lean meat (no bacon for me) but I do agree with the premise of eliminating/reducing sugar and simple carbs – it works!

    1. I always advise people to talk with their physician as I am not qualified to give any type of recommendations. With that said, I know many people that have reduced junk carbs and done well.

  10. Very inspirational. I used to have no problem losing a few pounds here and there. Then the 40s hit. Whenever I try to lose weight it seems I lose only about a pound one week and then nothing the next. I used to be able to lose about 2 lbs a week which motivated me to continue. Reading this makes me want to try again. Maybe this time, I won’t give up.

    1. My fitness expert told me proper weight loss occurs at a 1-2 lb/week loss. I play a game of challenge with myself to hit my mark each week as a sense of pride. I hate to lose so it keeps me motivated. Also having to report it to everyone on this blog motivates me also!! Lol

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