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!
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.
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.
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 Skinnytaste.com 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!