Kat grew up in sunny Southern California before moving to Hawaii; she was always surfing, swimming, and being active — those things came to a halt after an unexpected and tragic life event.
"I tried just about every sport, and I spent my Summers surfing, in YMCA kids' sports camps and participating the Junior Lifeguards program," Kat told POPSUGAR. "I ran varsity track all four years [of high school], and played varsity volleyball for three, while playing club volleyball during the off-season. I then went on to play at Hawaii Pacific University. My parents were the biggest reason I loved being an athlete." After her father passed away from cancer, Kat's mental and physical health suffered, and things changed.
"My dad was diagnosed with cancer in April of 2014 and passed away very soon after in June of 2014. I became depressed, I didn't have the energy to do anything. It unfortunately caused problems in multiple areas of my life, creating even more stress," she said. "I lost who I was; my love for life and adventure was gone. It wasn't until a few months ago that my life started turning back around in a more positive direction."
Kat stepped on the scale during a visit home and realized that her once-135-pound weight had jumped to a startling 180, and she was in shock. She knew it was time to get healthy again. Since that point, Kat has lost 40 pounds. Here's how she got there.
POPSUGAR: What made you decide to start your weight-loss journey?
Kat Carbone: I started working out and eating healthy again for two different reasons. One, my confidence was always an issue. Living in Hawaii, surfing, and being in a bathing suit all the time was a challenge. I was always uncomfortable, never fully satisfied with my body, and often embarrassed to be in a bathing suit. It's mentally exhausting to constantly be uncomfortable in something you wear every day. Second, my boyfriend and I had been together for about a year at the time, realized how much we had both been slacking, and decided to get back on track together. He loved the gym but it was a new atmosphere for me. I had only ever played sports or went for runs before, so I have him to thank for all the knowledge I now have.
"It's mentally exhausting to constantly be uncomfortable in something you wear every day."
PS: What's your favorite way to work out?
KC: My favorite way to work out is lifting weights, but if I want a break from the gym, I love hiking and long swims in the ocean. It's good for your body to mix things up, and I'm always happy in the ocean or enjoying Mother Nature.
PS: What's your weekly exercise schedule?
KC: I usually work out five to six times a week, or two days on, then one day off. Days off are necessary for your muscles to repair. Some people like to do specific parts of their body on different days, but I prefer to do full-body workouts for every workout. I like to rotate between different exercises and body parts because it keeps my body confused verses just one body part getting used to the same movement over and over.
PS: How do you keep workouts exciting?
KC: The easiest way for me to keep workouts exciting is by always trying new things. I love taking on new challenges, and although I have a fair amount of knowledge when it comes to health and fitness, there will always be new and different things to learn.
PS: What was the first big difference, other than the number on the scale, that really made you feel proud and excited?
KC: Aside from the number on the scale, what has made me even more proud is people noticing my changes. It's so rewarding to hear people say that they can tell you've been working hard, that they can see your changes, and that they think you look great.
PS: How do you track your weight loss?
KC: Now that I've lost the weight I wanted, I don't necessarily track it anymore; I go based off of how I feel and meal choices. It's OK to enjoy the not-so-healthy foods sometimes, but I can feel and see the differences on my body. I don't focus on the number as much because where I'm at now is more about staying fit and healthy than losing weight. I know what is good and bad for my body, and I know how those choices will affect me.
PS: What's a typical day of meals and snacks?
KC: My diet mainly consists of as little carbs and sugar as possible. I also try to avoid dairy, so I have things like almond milk as a substitute. Breakfast is usually oatmeal or a green smoothie; I have a wide variety of small snacks throughout the day like yogurt, granola, cottage cheese, fruits, veggies, nuts, etc., and dinners vary with different greens and proteins. I try to drink as much water as possible but that is a constant work in progress for me. I honestly do have a pretty bad sweet tooth, so I do treat myself to ice cream or a Cinnabon every now and then. It's OK to treat yourself sometimes; you have to find a good balance in enjoying the unhealthy things. Overall I make good choices, but that doesn't mean I have to completely deprive myself of life's simple, sweet pleasures.
PS: What's the range of calories you eat per day?
KC: I've never really tracked calories; it is definitely helpful for some people, but in my opinion it's all about making good choices. When I first wanted to drop weight, I did maintain a low-calorie diet; I drank lots of water for about two months with only the bare minimum amount of exercise. I dropped weight fairly quick and slowly added more foods and improved my workouts. Looking back, I probably wouldn't recommend doing it that way because your body does need calories and much more nutrition than that. It's all about knowing what is good or bad for your body, being aware of what you're consuming, and as long as it's healthy calories, the weight will come off.
PS: What are the healthy staples that are always in your fridge?
KC: I'm all about the greens. I always have veggies, broccoli, asparagus, and zucchini; they are my favorites. I absolutely love garlic — it's tasty and super good for you so I put that on just about everything that I can. I also love almond milk; I use it in my oatmeal, smoothies, or I use it to eat granola like cereal. I try to avoid drinking coffee but if I have to have it, almond milk with some honey is an awesome substitute for creamer.
"Never give up. It's not always going to be easy and results don't happen overnight, it takes time and discipline."
PS: How do you strategize for meals out?
KC: I try to avoid eating out altogether, but if I do I usually go for the healthier options. If it's a special occasions or I'm trying new restaurants, I will indulge and enjoy a less-healthy option.
PS: What advice do you have for anyone starting out on a weight-loss journey?
KC: Never give up. It's not always going to be easy and results don't happen overnight; it takes time and discipline. Second, don't be afraid to ask for help. Whether you have questions about food or how to do something in the gym, don't ever hesitate to ask. There is so much to learn — I'm still learning every day — and it's better to do things the right way for the best results, versus being unsure and not gaining the full benefits or effects. Lastly, start now! Why start tomorrow when you can start today? Always push yourself; do more instead of less. If you're waiting to start, or only putting in half the effort, you're only cheating yourself of your full potential.