How I Lost 30 Pounds in 4 Months without Counting Calories

The Tone It Up program (TIU) introduced Kara to a world of weight loss, health, and fun that she didn’t know before. Beginning her journey at the end of April, Kara has seen massive progress in roughly 16 weeks.

Check out Kara’s inspiring story and pick up some tips for your own journey:

POPSUGAR: What made you decide to start your weight-loss journey?

Kara Hamill: I just had our second baby within 19 months of our first. I was the heaviest I’ve ever been, none of my clothes fit, and I was sick and tired of feeling self-conscious. My husband and I had our two perfect and healthy babies; now it was my turn to get my body back. I was determined to do it this time. My good friend was over one afternoon and she mentioned Tone It Up was starting their eight-week Bikini Series challenge. She suggested we do it together. I tentatively agreed, signed up, started up my TIU Instagram account, began meal prepping, and followed the TIU weekly workout schedule with my friend, a.k.a. my “accountability partner.” I had no idea at the time, but my life was about to drastically change for the better.

PS: What’s your favorite way to work out?

KH: Total body! Why not get it all done in one shot? I love the kettle-toning workout from TIU. You hit total-body toning, cardio, and yoga in a quick 30-minute workout. I also love to kickbox. My husband owns all the gear, and sometimes after dinner we’ll get outside and hit some pads.

PS: What’s your weekly exercise schedule?

KH: I always attend a 6 a.m. cycling or circuit class one to two times a week with my accountability partner. One day a week I take an Orangetheory class, and on either Saturday or Sunday, I run a minimum of five kilometers. In between those days, I follow the Tone It Up schedule and throw in some kickboxing, running stairs, and going to the gym with my husband. On average, I work out five to six days a week. You always need those recovery days, and it’s on those days that I notice the most changes in my body.

PS: How do you keep workouts exciting?

KH: Variety is key. I am a member at a couple of local fitness studios in our neighborhood that offer cycling, barre, yoga, and circuit classes. So on the days we work our legs and booty, I’ll take a barre class with a friend. If cardio is on the schedule, I’ll take a cycling class. Now that I love working out, I’ll also tag along when my husband goes to the gym. Although getting out of the house with two little ones is not always easy, on some days I’ll scrap the free weights, scoop up my kids, and squat around the kitchen! This workout comes with a ton of laughs!

PS: What was the first big difference, other than the number on the scale, that really made you feel proud and excited?

KH: It was probably two weeks into the Tone It Up Bikini Series and my husband and I were going out for dinner. I had lost nine pounds by this point, and my closet was finally starting to fit again. I tried on a top I hadn’t been able to wear for two years, and not only did it zip up, but it was loose. I could have cried at that moment. I felt so good and insanely proud of myself.

PS: How do you track your weight loss?

KH: Every week on Monday morning I throw on the same bikini, take my weekly progress pictures, my measurements, and step on the scale. Monday mornings turned into my favorite day of the week! When the scale wouldn’t budge for a while, that’s when I blew the dust off my old skinny jeans to see how well they were fitting. The scale can be a total jerk, but the way you look and feel in your skinny jeans is the true test.

PS: What’s a typical day of meals and snacks?

KH: When I started my fitness journey with TIU, I was also breastfeeding my 2-month-old baby girl and intended to for a full year. So I needed more healthy calories and feeling hungry wasn’t an option. The nutrition plan gave me a list of healthy calories and preached how we need to listen to our bodies. I drink a ton of water all day, mainly because I am breastfeeding, but it also helps me feel full sooner. Meal one: usually a berry, spinach, almond milk smoothie with a touch of cinnamon. Meal two: apple with two tablespoons peanut butter. Meal three: chicken salad with quinoa, feta, and a ton of raw veggies. Meal four: veggies and hummus. Meal five (one of my family’s favorite dinners): lean ground turkey in tomato sauce over zoodles (zucchini noodles). It can’t be beat. I always make an effort to limit my carbs at dinner so I don’t go to bed with such a full stomach.

PS: What’s the range of calories you eat per day?

KH: There is way too much stress involved with counting calories! I used to do it, but I quickly realized it was all I would think about all day. I eat clean Monday through Friday and dabble with some comfort food on the weekends. My husband and I love good food and wine, which is something we will enjoy doing together forever. We sweat for those date nights!

Related: Caitlin’s Inspiring 25-Pound Weight-Loss Journey Is So Attainable

PS: What healthy staples are always in your fridge?

KH: Spring mix organic lettuce, baby spinach, hummus, Greek yogurt, Pinty’s Oven Roasted Chicken Breast Strips, coconut water, and kombucha.

PS: How do you strategize for meals out?
KH: When we get an opportunity to go out for dinner, I don’t eat strictly. Balance is so important. I enjoy good food—and that usually means healthy food—so I tend to focus on proteins, vegetables, and limit carbs, fats, and sugar. As always, I drink a lot of water throughout the meal, too. If I do indulge in a heavy, unhealthy meal, my body now reacts poorly, as it’s become so accustomed to clean ingredients. When I do eat it, I feel just plain sick. So I’ve really stopped eating anything I know is going to make me feel sluggish.

PS: What advice do you have for anyone starting out on a weight-loss journey?
KH: Everybody needs to start somewhere, and there’s no better time than the present. Know [that] there aren’t any instant results, and you have to commit to a regimented program that will eventually show results and make you feel awesome about yourself. The feeling that comes over you when you see your hard work paying off is a proud happiness everyone deserves. TIU had the best line that has stuck with me. Especially on those tough weeks when I feel discouraged: “Even if you don’t see results as soon as you’d hope, know there are changes happening on the inside—it’s science! One day you’ll wake up and the pounds will start melting away. Trust the process and be patient.”

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