Posted by on Oct 17, 2011

Member Spotlight

In this edition of Fitocracy Member Spotlight, we hear how Fitocracy member Karacooks lost 86lbs through a combination of lifting, cardio, and smart nutrition. 

Username: Karacooks 

Any before and after pics?:



What sports or fitness activities are you involved in?

Currently I’m involved in a variety of activities. I run, I lift weights (working on a modified StrongLifts type plan), I take yoga classes, and I just signed up for dance classes (a 12 week series that covers the basics of multiple dance forms including ballet, jazz, salsa, and a few others).

Do you compete at any level?

I don’t compete as such, but I did just sign up for my first 5k in November.

What’s your story? When, how and why did you get into your chosen sport or fitness plan?

My story is much like most overweight people. I started out weighing 250+ lbs. I can’t tell you my exact weight, because like most fat people I avoided the scale. As you can imagine at 5’4”, that’s a lot of weight. I was classified morbidly obese. Also like most overweight people I’d done every diet, scheme, plan, pill, drink, and detox out there in hopes of losing weight. I knew better – I’m a smart person – but I still hoped. It wasn’t until 2006 that a switch turned on in my head and I started actually working out and eating better. I started out eliminating junk food from my diet and doing cardio. Then I hooked up with a good trainer who knew his stuff, who led me to The New Rules of Lifting for Women. From there things took off and I began researching all I could on health, weights, eating, and how to not only lose weight but become fit. It just kept going from there.

What are your current athletic or fitness-related goals?

My goals have changed a lot over the last 5 years. I started out wanting to be thin. Now I want to be healthy. I want to be fit. I want to be able to climb and run and move. I don’t want to have to call someone to carry a heavy box for me or lift a piece of furniture. I don’t train or workout with any hard number goal in mind, but just with the idea that I can always be healthier.

What is your workout or training regimen?

Currently I lift weights 3x a week (the modified SL program I mentioned above). I run 2x a week or more. I take yoga classes 2x a week and I’m adding a 1x a week dance class at least until the end of the year when my 12 class card will run out.

What does your diet look like? Do you take any supplements?

My diet is primarily whole foods based. I don’t believe in fad diets or extremes. I am currently still trying to lose some weight, so I eat 1600 calories a day, prioritizing protein (1g per lb of lean body mass), fat (.4g per pound of BW), and filling in the rest with complex carbs. I do eat junk every once in a while and I do drink a glass of wine or a beer or even have a martini a few times a week. The one food that I cannot have in the house are sour cream and onion potato chips. They are my kryptonite and I will eat a whole bag by myself. So they are banned from my home!!  Right now I’m doing the October Unprocessed challenge from and it’s been an eyeopener.

What have you achieved so far? What are your ‘numbers’ (times, weights, heights, etc)?

The most weight I’ve lost is 102 lbs. I gained some of that back earlier this year (more about that below) and am currently sitting at 86lbs lost. My weight goal is 125lbs, which will ultimately put me at 125lbs lost when I hit my goal – half my original bodyweight. Compared to a lot of other lifters and runners I don’t have amazing numbers, but I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and I know I’ll get better. So that said, currently my 5k time is 42 mins. The only other number I know for sure is my Squat 1RM is 160.

What is your competition and/or training philosophy?

The only person you have to compete against is yourself. If you keep pushing yourself to do a little better than last time, lift a little more than you could before, run a little faster than the last time, you’re doing good. Don’t let anyone shame you into thinking your time or your numbers aren’t good enough.

What challenges do you face?

My weight. I will always struggle with my weight. Beyond that, a perception of myself as being NOT an athlete. I grew up being the “smart one” while my brother was the “athletic one”. It took me nearly 40 years to realize that I could be smart *and* athletic. But I still doubt myself often.

How do you motivate yourself?

I have a philosophy that it’s not about motivation; it’s about commitment. We all have things we do daily that we do not because we’re rah-rah motivated but because that’s what we do as responsible adults: go to work, brush our teeth, do laundry, pay bills. We don’t have to build up motivation to do them. We just do. That’s how I try to think of exercise and fitness and the whole package. I do it because I do it. Period.

What advice do you take, and what do you ignore?

I take the advice of people who provide sources, who are analytical, and who are open-minded. I don’t take any advice that begins with “I read somewhere” or “I heard somewhere” and I don’t take advice from people who are arrogant .

What are some training or diet-related things you know are true but cannot prove?

Oh gosh.  The thing is I think that there are very few things that are 100% absolutely true all the time. People want to say “do this and you’ll get that” but everyone’s bodies are different and what works for one person might not work for another. There are certain basic laws of science that you can’t ignore, but outside that scope, it’s all open for interpretation.

What injuries have you dealt with? What are the injury risks that come with your athletic endeavors?

I have been very lucky not to have any truly serious injuries. I have the usual selection of strains and sprains and one very painful and annoying bout of plantar fasciitis that kept me from running or really any cardio for the better part of 5 months (which is why I gained back a few pounds!). However, it seems to have resolved itself and I’m back to running again, thank god!

Any advice on how to deal with these injuries and risks?

I am so not the person to ask about that!  I’d say be careful, don’t overtrain, and if you feel pain STOP.

What are your favorite sports/fitness books/DVDs/websites?

Well of course Fitocracy. The New Rules of Lifting books (both the original and the one for women) changed my life and I don’t exaggerate when I say that. is an awesome site for women who want to lift. Lyle McDonald is my guru when it comes to battling the BS that’s out there: And of course my own diet and weight loss forum at

Anything else you want to add?

It’s really cool to be nominated for this!! And also that I love the concept behindFitocracy. I’m a long time gamer chick, so the idea of combining MMORPG with fitness thrills me. I think anything that brings the concept of healthy fitness to the masses – especially to the masses that tend to be sedentary – rocks. 

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