‘I Lost 85 Pounds In 2 Years—And It All Started With Tone It Up Workouts And Meal Prepping’

Kaila Duncan, as told to Emily Shiffer
·5 min read
Photo credit: Courtesy
Photo credit: Courtesy

From Women's Health

My name is Kaila Duncan (@kaila_a_duncan), and I am 29 years old. I live in Michigan and am a group fitness coach and personal trainer at RPM Birmingham. I struggled with my weight until I decided to get in shape for my wedding by meal prepping, doing Tone It Up! workouts, and indoor cycling.

I had been overweight ever since I was a kid. It's something I had always struggled with. I was active as a kid, but would tend to overeat or just rely on food for comfort. I was diagnosed with asthma around age 9, and in my mid-twenties (around my heaviest weight of 220 pounds) my asthma had worsened. Sleeping was also extremely uncomfortable. These were an added motivator for me to finally make some health changes.

On April 12, 2017, I started my fitness and wellness journey. I was 26 years old. My now-husband had proposed earlier that year in January, and we had officially set our wedding date. I had woken up from a night of terrible sleep and just didn't feel great about myself.

It was the first nice day we had had in awhile, so I rolled out of bed and thought, Today is the day.

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I knew I was ready to start moving my body and eating better. I went for a three-mile run outside. It took me about 45 minutes to complete, but I didn’t care. I was determined to feel my best on our wedding day.

When I first started my journey, my husband and I decided to go vegetarian, then slowly switched to a pescatarian diet.

We also tried vegan at the beginning of my journey, but then we slowly went back to eating meat. I also was originally counting calories, but I wasn't super focused on it. Nutrition didn’t click for me until the end of October 2017. A friend introduced me to the Tone It Up! program. That is where I learned how to fuel my body properly and when I started meal prepping. That's also when I really started seeing results and losing weight. I would still consider the way I eat as lean, clean, and green. (Today I also run a small meal-prep service called Cocina de Kaila!)

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Here’s what I eat in a day now.

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I had always been active, but not consistent. My new exercise goal was to be active regularly.

I also started doing workouts I found on Pinterest. In October 2017, I started doing the Tone It Up! workouts from home, and once I started to feel more confident, I started trying workouts at different gyms.

It took a while to gain courage to go into a gym, but I eventually fell in love with indoor cycling. I loved it so much that I wanted to become an instructor and auditioned, and by October/November 2018 all I wanted was to be a full-time fitness instructor. By August 2019, I officially left my full-time job to pursue a career in the fitness industry. I currently try to do two to three days a week of cardio, preferably cycling or running. I also do weight training four to five times a week.

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These three changes made the biggest difference in my weight-loss results.

  • I focused my nutrition on eating lean, clean, and green. I needed to stay consistent and not consider my Sunday a free-for-all with food. I started asking myself if what I was eating would benefit me or not. I’ll still eat ice cream or anything I might be craving, but only if I really want it. I’m just more aware and try my best to make healthier choices.

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  • I stayed consistent with my workouts and found accountability partners. I used to start to work out but never stuck with it. Now, even if it’s for 30 minutes, I get my body moving. The TIU program also involves a community that is extremely supportive and keeps me accountable. Some of the community members have become my best friends, and they have motivated me to start my meal prep business. They helped me believe in myself. Knowing I wasn’t alone on the journey and having their support really did make a huge difference.

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  • I didn’t get obsessed with the scale. I would always get frustrated or discouraged by the number on the scale and give up, so I realized I needed to stop weighing myself so much. I only check my weight every three months or at the doctor's office to see where I'm at. I like to track my progress with my body measurements more than anything. I check those once a month to see my progress.

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I have lost 85 pounds, and it took me about two years.

I want other women to know that it is possible to achieve your goals. Believe in yourself! Work hard, and things will happen. This journey never gets easy, but you do get stronger. I found my confidence and strength along the way, and that makes all the hard work worth it.

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