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"Martial Arts Helped Me Reshape My Body"

  • Kimmarie Barrett, now slenderand healthy at 136 pounds. How far has she come? See page 2.

  • Kimmarie, pictured here at her heaviest -- 198 pounds.

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"I Did It!"

Name: Kimmarie Barrett
Age: 37
Height: 5'5"
Her Weight Before: 198
Her Weight After: 136
Pounds Lost: 62
At Current Weight: 12 months

For Kimmarie Barrett, inspiration to start exercising came from an unusual source: her 9-year-old daughter. "She was taking tae kwon do classes and I decided to join her," says the systems administrator from Mims, Florida. "I thought, We'll spend time together and I'll lose weight," she says. But it took a few years for the scale to budge. "I had to commit to working out more consistently and change my fatty diet to see results."

Cheese Cravings, Weight Gains

Cheese-aholic Kimmarie weighed about 160 through her 20s. "I loved anything with melted cheese — pizza, burritos, calzones," she says. "I tried low-carb dieting so I could still eat cheese, but it didn't work." By her early 30s, she was up to 198. "The amount of exercise I was doing wasn't enough to control my weight, and my blood pressure was high," she says. "My doctor prescribed medication. That woke me up; I felt way too young to be taking pills and worrying about having a stroke."

The 25% Rule

First, she eliminated foods that got more than 25 percent of their calories from fat. Fried food, cheese, and chips were out; grilled chicken, fish, and yogurt were in. Then she increased her tae kwon do classes to three a week and added daily yoga and walking. The first month, she lost 10 pounds. Soon, Kimmarie replaced walking with running. Within six months, she had lost 62 pounds and was off blood-pressure drugs.

Now Kim is a black belt, tae kwon do instructor, and owner of a martial arts studio. "I posted before and after photos of myself to show my students what you can accomplish if you try."

Kimmarie's Healthy Eating Plan

The Diet: Breakfast is a rice cake with reduced-fat peanut butter and honey. Lunch: plain tuna, whole-grain crackers, and a green vegetable. Dinner: chicken or fish and a salad. Snacks: fruit, grape tomatoes, and trail-mix bars.

The Workout: Kimmarie does two hours of tae kwon do four times a week and runs three and a half miles three days a week. She also does 30 to 60 minutes of yoga each day.

Biggest Temptation: Cheesy Mexican food. "When I need a fix, I'll order a lower-fat alternative like fajitas and dip my chips in salsa instead of guacamole."

What She Couldn't Wait to Wear: Flat-front pants. "I used to wear pleats or elastic-waist pants to give my belly room. Now I look great in snug-fitting styles."

Originally published in Fitness magazine, December 2005.