Sometimes it’s easier to get the full story of a client’s fitness journey by having someone else conduct an interview with them. So I tasked my social media and content manager, Dena Kouremetis, to get the story from long-time client Katie Harkin about the path that has led her to where she is today. Before you read this, however, know that Katie follows my regimen for eating as well as exercising religiously, making me one proud trainer….
Dena: Can you tell us the story of you BEFORE you met Tiara?
Katie: Like a lot of other gals, I've had to watch my weight from the time I was a teenager. I tried any new diet that was in vogue at the time and can’t even tell you the names of all of them now. When I turned 24, my son was born. What that blessed experience left behind, however, was 55 extra pounds. I was determined to get that weight off and did so after 6 months, so I felt good about having control over it. Remember, however, that I was in my 20s and my body burned up the calories and snapped back much more easily than it does now.
Dena: Was it that easy to manage your weight during the bulk of your adult years so far?
Katie: I wish. Being in the corporate world for 35 years, my weight fluctuated so many times, and finally about three years ago, I reached my all time high on the scale. The same number appeared on the scale as it did the day I gave birth to my son. 185 pounds.
I was depressed. I didn’t want to go out and didn’t want to socialize. I used my 70-80 hour work week as an excuse for not having time to exercise or even thinking about what I ate. Traveling for work found me eating crappy food, and stressful job situations had me downing a glass of wine or two each night to help calm me down.
Dena: Did something happen to make you change directions?
Katie: You bet!. I finally quit my job during the summer of 2015. I decided it was in both an unhealthy as well as an unprofessional environment, and I wanted to take control of my future. It was then that I went to the doc and had some lab work done. I was appalled at the results. It was just the slap in the face I needed to get my act together if I wanted to be around for my husband, children and family for the foreseeable future.
So I went to a local bio-identical health practitioner, he straightened me out about getting healthy, and I lost 60 pounds in 5 months. It involved making significant life style changes, and made me think of food entirely differently. It wasn’t about dieting. It was about ME. Now, it’s a way of life for me. One of the benefits is that I gave up alcohol to lose weight and have no more desire for wine! I know. That’s a big one.
Dena: That’s amazing. We can all learn from the journey you’re on. Okay, so now that you got your weight down, what led you to Tiara?
Katie: I happened to meet Tiara socially and during our conversation, told her I had been trying to work out. I also told her that I thought my workouts were not challenging enough. I am not a patient person and just as with other "overachiever" aspects of my life, I kept looking for higher and higher hills to climb. This one, however, was for my health. It was obvious by her attitude that Tiara’s passion and energy for fitness and health were something that kept her clients engaged. So I switched to her as my trainer. Soon she became the detective withme, asking me what I wanted to accomplish. With each workout I could see that she was pushing me in a fun and motivational way and I was getting better, quicker results. Fitness is SUCH a journey!
Tiara“checks-in” with her clients to see how they are doing after a workout, how their diet is going, helps design a very specific eating plan and gives them creative ideas of how to prepare food. She also tests out every single workout herself before she runs us through them. Soon I found that her workouts helped me to build my cardio endurance using cardio bursts. I still can’t claim to like them, and I haven’t met very many people who do. But they work.
Dena: Share with us why has working out with a trainer become your mainstay for fitness...
Katie: That’s easy. I think you have to find a trainer you can look up to in many different ways. Tiara's knowledge and expertise in fitness is evidenced by her own lifestyle. Just one look at her and you recognize that her strength and endurance (as well as her looks!) have made her a mentor to anyone who works out with her. She walks the talk. Using her diet suggestions coupled with her ability to constantly change up our workouts, I am building more muscle which in turn increases how many calories I burn per day. I am seeing much more definition and feel stronger.
Dena: So what are your ultimate goals in general regarding your fitness journey?
Katie: My goals are to look fit, healthy, and lean as I approach my sixth decade. I want to be in good health not just for me, but also for my everyone I love and who loves me. I also figure if I ever am ever blessed with grandchildren, I want to be able to keep up with them! I also love the idea of motivating and inspiring others — especially women 50+ — and get tell them in no uncertain terms that you can get into even BETTER shape each and every year. I am no doubt healthier now than I was a few years or even ten years ago. I have a body fat percentage goal in mind, I want to be able to do up to five pull-ups with no assistance and for sure, maintain the 60 pound weight loss I worked so hard to attain.
Dena: If you could advise others on their own fitness journeys, what would you tell them?
Katie: Oh my gosh, I have SO much to say, but I'll try to break it down and not keep you here forever. I found that getting fit healthy actually takes preparation. I think you have to mentally prepare yourself weeks in advance so that you can "clear" your life for old habits to fall away. I have to warn you, though. It can be difficult to be as “social” when you first start, so picking the right time of the year is critical. Another thing is that you’ve got to get VERY real about food intake, as if every morsel you take in is medicine your body needs, and in just the right amounts. Once you figure this out, it becomes fairly automatic and you end up bagging a lot of food from restaurants and ridding your cabinets and fridge of food that does not serve your purposes.
Your diet is 80-90% of the equation to losing weight, while 10-20% is exercise. It’s that exercise, however that makes the weight loss look so good and helps you move like a much younger person. God, I love that. My advice is to get a comprehensive blood test to see what your thyroid, blood sugar, and hormone levels are and then make a plan to get into normal ranges anything that looks askew.
It’s great to set a long term goal, but also set short term goals along the way to measure your progress. When you hit your goals, celebrate your success by something that you enjoy: a new outfit, a spa appointment, a total “veg” day, dinner out, etc. Be a fanatic about reading food labels and ingredients.
Other little tips include having raw almonds in your car, bag, and everywhere you go, along with a protein bar and shake, so when you are hungry, you won’t cheat. And here’s a big one: face the fact that friends who give you grief about being on the program (especially not drinking) to lose weight, truly wish that they were as strong as you are.
Whatever your food or drink weakness is, as that old Greek once said, "know thyself" and remove it from your house. Weigh yourself weekly (not daily) to hold yourself accountable. Hire a personal trainer for your resistance training and developing a diet plan. And last, but not least, know that when you go to bed hungry, you are doing yourself a favor. Weird, but true. Nothing good comes without sacrifice. After a while, though, you’ll love looking in the mirror again.