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I Lost 95 Pounds in 18 Months With These Basic Changes

Katie Kabala shares her weight loss journey with Body Network.
FACT CHECKED BY Christopher Roback

Do you have a lot of weight to lose, but don't know how? Learning about how other people get into shape can be a helpful tool to achieve your own weight loss goals. Katie Kabala, 41, weighed 215 pounds when she decided to change her life. She went on to lose 95 pounds in 18 months, and now is in the best shape of her life at 120 pounds. In a new interview with Body Network she explains exactly how she did it.

Katie Was Frustrated About Her Body and Clothing Size

Katie Kabala

Katie explained why she had finally hit rock bottom with her weight. "I felt frustrated with being a size that wasn't always sold in stores. It made things difficult and sometimes embarrassing to shop and not be able to get what I wanted because many stores only go up to a size 12. At my largest, I was probably a size 16 to 18," she says.

She Lost 95 Pounds in 1.5 Years

Katie Kabala

Katie went on to lose 95 pounds in a year and a half. "Everyone is different and may respond differently to medications, so it's important to note that these are my results, and weight loss can vary for each person. Results truly can vary with each person, including experiencing certain adverse events," she says.

She Started OrangeTheory Classes

Huntington Beach, California/United States: 04/07/2019: A store front sign for the gym known as Orange Theory Fitness

Katie started exercising. "I work out four times a week at OrangeTheory, which is a full body high-intensity workout. Their in-body scan system shows that I cut my body fat percentage in half in a year and a half," she says. Her favorite exercises? Running, rowing, chest presses, sumo squats "and anything with the Bosu ball," she says.

She Toned Her Body

Katie Kabala

"My arms and legs have a visible definition, and it's fun to show off for the first time in my life, as I have always been overweight," she says. "Sometimes I even wear crop tops to the gym now, which feels so free and empowering."

She Changed Her Approach to Diet

CALORIE counting counter application Medical eating healthy Diet concept

Katie says that her diet has been the biggest contributor to her success. "Weight loss is all about staying in a calorie deficit," she says. "I calculated my TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) using various online calculators and found it to be around 1400 calories for me, which is well under 2000 that is often touted. I aim to stay within my daily calorie budget, which is usually three meals and a snack each day. I track my calories daily using MyFitnessPal."

She Took Contrave

Never fear, your pharmacist is here. Cropped shot of an attractive young female pharmacist working in a pharmacy.

Katie adds that dieting was made possible for her by starting to take Contrave. "Contrave is a doctor-prescribed medicine that helps me stop obsessing over food. Now I'm able to focus more easily on eating healthy and not overeating," she says.

Here Is What She Eats in a Day

Greek yogurt in a heart shaped bowl, overhead scene against a rustic wood background

"A typical day for me would include a high protein Greek yogurt and fruit breakfast, lunch is almost always soup, and dinner is usually something home cooked like an Asian noodle bowl with shrimp, zucchini pasta and meatballs, or tacos with low carb tortillas," she says. "For snacks, I usually go for something crunchy and salty like popcorn, crackers, or savory rice cakes. The low-calorie frozen yogurt bars are a nice treat, too. Once a month, I spend a day on the weekend making 3 to 4 different types of soup, and I freeze them in individual portions for my lunches at work during the week.  Soups are easy to make, tasty, and filling, and are low in calories."

She Avoids Fast Food, Alcohol, and High-Calorie Drinks

People clinking glasses with wine on the summer terrace of cafe or restaurant

"I really haven't eliminated anything from my diet, but I do tend to avoid some things that are not worth the calories for me anymore. I think of daily calories as a budget, and some things are no longer in the budget unless I make cuts elsewhere that day, so I tend to avoid those things," she says. However, some things she avoids are fast food, alcohol, and any drinks that are high in calories.


Silhouette of a fitness woman profile stretching at sunrise with the sun in the background

Katie has been a member of Orangetheory for over seven years now and used to struggle with running." I was never really able to run longer than 5 to 6 minutes. Now I'm able to run the entire treadmill portion of the class without stopping – often around 23 minutes," she reveals. "It sounds like such a little thing and probably silly to someone who has always been fit, but I cried the first time I was able to run the entire block."

Sticking with Goals and Celebrating Milestones Is Key


"If someone asked for my advice on their fitness goals, I would tell them to stick with it and celebrate every milestone, no matter how small it may seem to others," she says. "You know how hard you worked for that, so celebrate it!"

You Need to Cut Calories to Lose Weight


She also adds that working out is significantly easier when you weigh less, "and the old adage that you can't outrun what you do in the kitchen is true," she says. "Working out is important for toning up and building muscle, which helps burn calories, but I have found that I typically only burn around 500 calories each gym session –  that's fewer calories than most takeout coffee orders."

She Has Faced Challenges


"My biggest challenge has been my diet and constant thoughts about food," Katie admits. "I used to always think about what I wanted to eat- from the time I woke up to the time I went to sleep.  If French fries came to mind at 6 am, it wouldn't leave my mind until I ate them, and then my obsession would instantly switch to another food.  Previously, this made it impossible to diet."

She Weighs Herself Regularly

Katie Kabala

Katie measures progress with her body goals through weigh-ins. "Initially, I weighed myself daily so I could see the weight coming off as a reward for eating low calories. Now that my weight loss has slowed down, I only weigh myself about once a week," she explains. "I also see progress through my clothes. I went from a size 16/18 to a size 2/4. My progress is also seen at the gym- I'm able to lift heavier and run faster and longer than ever before."

RELATED: I Lost 124 Pounds in 9 Months After Stopping Starving Myself and Making These Key Changes

She Used to Obsess Over Food

French fries or potato chips with sour cream and ketchup

"My biggest challenge has been my diet and constant thoughts about food. I used to always think about what I wanted to eat- from the time I woke up to the time I went to sleep. If French fries came to mind at 6 am, it wouldn't leave my mind until I ate them, and then my obsession would instantly switch to another food," Katie says.

And That Made It "Impossible" to Diet


Previously, this made it impossible to diet.  My doctor prescribed me Contrave, which can help me quiet the noise and even the playing field to allow me to diet. Now, it's much easier for me to stick to my calorie goal each day.

She Takes Vitamines and Drinks Kombucha

San Leandro, CA - July 8, 2020: Grocery store shelves with bottles of KeVita Kombucha and sparlking proBiotic drinks plus Bloom, Synergy and Suja organic Kombucha drinks in various flavors.

In addition to her daily dose of Contrave, she takes a daily vitamin and a probiotic. "I also try to drink kombucha every day for gut health," she explains.

RELATED: Lose 10 Pounds a Month With These Moderate Steps

She Used to Think Weight Loss Was All About Burning Calories

Katie Kabala

"I used to think that working out would burn enough calories to make me lose weight. I couldn't understand why I was working out so much and still gaining weight until I found out about TDEE and how much calorie needs could vary from person to person.  Being a short, older woman, my calorie count is significantly different from my tall husband's daily calorie needs," she points out.

Her Advice: Make Time for Exercise


"My advice for someone starting their fitness journey is that you are worth carving this time out for yourself. As a working mom, when I first started working out, I felt guilty for that extra hour that I wasn't with my children. Now I realize that the benefits that working out affords me is worth so much because I'm so much happier when I go to the gym. A parenting bonus is that it sets a good example for my children to prioritize their health," she says.

Also, Talk to Your Doctor

Female doctor measuring waist of overweight woman with measuring tape in clinic

"I would also encourage anyone who is overweight to look into options available to them with their doctor," says Katie. "There are so many ways to help treat obesity now, and you deserve to have a better chance of achieving your health goals. I didn't realize how much my thoughts about food were sabotaging my diet until I started taking Contrave."

RELATED: Dave Asprey Reveals the 11 Secrets to Supercharged Energy Every Day

Stick to the Plan

Katie Kabala

"Taking Contrave, budgeting my calories each day, and not allowing for any cheat days has helped me manage my weight long term. There may be days that I have gone slightly over my calorie goal, but I do not allow myself to have an entire day of high-calorie eating," Katie says. She also maintains that sticking to a workout you like is key. And if you enjoyed this article, take advantage of these 15 Quick Ways to Lose Body Fat Percentage in a Week.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more