Kerry Ann King of New York City was never a willowy, lanky child, and instead carried a short and stout build. Being involved in ballet where tiny and petite were the norm left her feeling like a square peg in a round hole.
To make matters worse, the ballet school Kerry attended encouraged dieting even at a young age to keep a slim physique. Kerry, now 44, recalls dancing 10-12 hours days on nothing but a few pieces of fruit. But when she quit dancing at age 15, her less active lifestyle and confused metabolism led to quick and steady weight gain. When she ventured into other sports she eventually injured her knee, which led to a cycle of rehab/recovery/re-injury that only further piled on the weight.
It wasn’t until Kerry became pregnant that she realized permanent changes to the way she ate and treated her body were necessary. During her first pregnancy Kerry found benefit in reading the classic pregnancy book, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”
“While I don’t recommend that book, reading all the information about how my diet would impact my baby really made me super-conscious of what I was eating,” she said. “I starting to focus more on the nutritional value of things as opposed to just the number of calories. Because I was feeding someone else who was my responsibility, I was much more careful.”
Kerry reached her highest weight of 225 pounds toward the end of her third pregnancy, but she loved being pregnant and wasn’t particularly concerned about regaining her pre-baby body.
Natural remedies helped Kerry slim down, the most poignant of which being breastfeeding. Because she wanted to produce the highest quality milk possible, she made every bite count, ensuring its nutritional value was through the roof. After Kerry’s twins were born, she started exercising more seriously and was able to find activities that were low impact and wouldn’t bother her knee.
For diet, Kerry simply paid attention to how much nutrition per calorie she was getting. “Things that didn’t have a good ratio, I just stopped eating. For example, cream cheese is cheese but it has almost no protein and almost no calcium, so I don’t eat it anymore,” she said. “I read food labels all the time. However, if something really gives me a lot of pleasure, I’ll still eat it.” As a New Yorker, one of Kerry’s favorite indulges remains a bagel with butter. She just doesn’t do it every day.
Another secret to Kerry’s 100-pound weight loss was avoiding processed items, and those that contained fake sweeteners or fats. “It seems to me that you are just trying to trick yourself into thinking nothing has to change with those things,” she said. “Real change comes with finding good foods that you really enjoy.”
To stay fit, Kerry squeezes in at least one hour of cardio every day to maintain her current weight of 125 pounds – a number she has maintained for six years. To add variety, Kerry tried new fitness classes and loved how motivating the teacher-group setting was. She and her husband have also since learned to salsa dance, she recently took up rock climbing with her kids, and she even became a fitness instructor to solidify her commitment to being active.
For those who struggle with their weight, Kerry reminds us that what really makes a difference is finding foods and activities that you enjoy. “Eating and moving are two of life’s great pleasures. Once you get started, you will find that you want to exercise and eat well, because you feel and look better.”