Love Can Make You Skinny
You can name a million different reasons for wanting to lose weight — and trying to fit into smaller jeans is just the beginning. Take it from these four triumphant women!
“I lost it to save the world”
In February 2007, Kara Richardson felt like the most powerful woman on the planet. She was completing the final stretch of an amazing weight-loss journey by hiking to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro and, in the process, raising $12,000 for AIDS orphans inAfricathrough an online donation page. But that feeling faded just a few months later, when Kara became pregnant — and her old eating-for-comfort habits returned. She used all the pregnancy excuses: “I’m eating for two!” “Dieting is a no-no.” After daughter Anna arrived in February 2008, breast-feeding — and its calorie-burning benefits — was Kara’s fallback excuse for continuing to eat a lot. The new mom, just shy of 300 pounds, also hadn’t resumed her pre-pregnancy walking regimen. “I was overwhelmed with being a mom and working,” Kara says. “Taking care of myself took a backseat.”
In a slump, Kara asked herself, How can I get myself out of this and moving again? She remembered how she’d felt on Kilimanjaro. “When I reached the peak, my legs were like jelly and I was light-headed, but I had tears rolling down my face from the sense of relief and elation I felt,” she says. “Throughout the training, it was empowering to be working for a cause bigger than myself. I couldn’t come up with excuses to skip the gym when a child in the world was relying on me for fresh water and a chance.” This compassion was innate and deep-rooted. As a child, Kara had doodled pictures of orphanages; years later, she organized service projects in school.
After reflecting on her Kilimanjaro experience, Kara came up with a solution: The Save the World Diet. During each month of 2009, she’d participate in a physical event for charity. Her exercise changed each month to help her train for the next event; for the 220-mile Hershey’s Tour de Pink bike ride for breast cancer, for instance, she went full-force with spinning classes. The causes were often personal — she walked the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon for the American Heart Association to honor her dad, who has heart disease. A few activities bordered on wacky: During February’s Penguin Plunge for Special Olympics, she jumped into icyLake Champlain. “Every event wound up giving me something,” Kara says. “The plunge provided some fun, whereas walking the marathon helped with my endurance and the bike ride brought out courage.” Meanwhile, she worked on eating solid meals — three a day, plus two snacks — instead of grazing mindlessly.
Now 25 pounds lighter, Kara just completed her final charitable event of 2009: her second climb up Kilimanjaro for the Global Alliance forAfricaorphans. But she keeps her eye on the cause, not the scale. “I feel so much stronger physically, spiritually, and emotionally, and I know that having a cause in front of me is something I need to stay healthy for life,” Kara says. “I won’t lose sight of that again.”
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