Weight Loss Wednesday – Cara

You may have noticed that last night’s post was published at 11:30pm!  Well, it turns out drinking iced coffee in the afternoon is not the best idea if you want to get to sleep at a decent hour. I was wide awake watching the Olympics (Go Aly!) and finally took a melatonin to wind down.

Olympic side note: I love Lolo! Love love.

I also like Mustafina even though it seemed everyone else at the Olympic Marathon party was not a fan. I thought her dirty looks and they way she shooed her coach away from touching her after she had a bad routine was entertaining. She’s smiling now though…Mustafina-Olympic-Gold(source)

Weight Loss Wednesday with Cara

My Run Happy Ambassadorship with Brooks shoes includes the opportunity to interview one of their Brooks I.D.member. I.D. stands for Inspire Daily Smile

Recently I interviewed Cara, a mother of 4 from Oregon who works with Brooks. She has completed 9 marathons and works as a personal trainer and running coach.

Oh, and she lost 45 pounds.

Cara Before:Copy of before

Cara After:IMG_5684_final

Here’s her weight loss and running story…

How did you “find” running? What’s your running story?

I love my running story!  Throughout high school, I despised running–and all athletics, actually.  Whenever I ran for P.E, I would develop knee swelling from a subluxing patella.  Thus, I obtained a doctor’s note to excuse me from running, and that note carried me though all four years of high school with no running.

In early adulthood, I began walking several miles a day, but always insisted that I hated running and that I “couldn’t” run.  Throughout the course of having children and hitting 30, I became overweight for the first time in my life.  When I finally began weight training and following better nutrition and portion sizes, I lost all that excess weight and became muscular!  Still I was sure that I hated running, though I hadn’t tried it in years.

One day while on a long walk, I realized how late it was and that I must rush home so that my husband could get to work.  There was no option:  I had to run!  I ran about 2 miles, and when I finally slowed to walk in the last block, the walk felt like slow motion. It dawned on me that the run felt GREAT!!!
The next morning, I decided to try running again.  Loved it!  And so it went.

I got hooked on racing at my first race. Positive that I must be a slow runner, I was so afraid of being the last across the finish line!  Imagine my shock when I passed my running friends and ended up being among the top tier of finishers.  Race after race, I kept winning in my age division, and several times I actually won as the overall woman.  This has never ceased to shock me.  I still keep thinking that maybe all these races have just been flukes!  As I running coach, I know better, but as a woman who came from such a non-athletic history, I still can’t get over the shock of it!

How did you lose the weight?

I began weight lifting 6 days a week, using free weights and cables rather than machines.  Also, I increased my general physical movement throughout the day, so that if it was time to read, I’d do so going in slow motion on a treadmill, rather than sitting.  I still did my regular walking back then, but I’d add more walks whenever possible.  Also, I reduced simple carbs and eliminated extra fats and sugars (such as honey, jam, butter, cheese, etc).  My diet was mostly comprised of fruits, veggies, and lean proteins.  No desserts at all until I reached my desired weight.

What was a typical day’s meals when you were losing?

Breakfast was one slice whole wheat toast with banana; early lunch was a whole wheat tortilla with turkey breast and lettuce, along with a giant fruit salad.  Early dinner was a lean protein, a veggie, and a giant spinach salad.  I loosened my restrictions once I lost all the weight, and now I do allow myself to enjoy desserts!

What was a typical day’s exercise?

The typical exercise (this was before I was a runner) was an hour of weight lifting and a 3.5 mile brisk walk.  Then, there was the extra very slow-paced stroll on the treadmill later in the day.  I’d even dance around the kitchen a bit while cooking dinner.

How do you maintain that loss now? What did you eat for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and snacks yesterday?

I am not extremely strict now with calories because I have so much lean muscle mass that my body is a calorie-burning machine!  But I do keep my eye on my weight almost daily just because it’s a good diagnostic tool, and I don’t want to discover that I have gradually put on weight.

On average, I enjoy about an hour of cardiovascular exercise every day–running, cycling, climbing stairs, or using the elliptical machine.  Sometimes it will be a tempo run, interval training, easy runs, or a longer endurance run.  I continue to lift weights daily, which is also a key in keeping weight off.  For every 10 pounds of lean muscle mass on our bodies, we burn an extra 500 calories a day!

My meals tend to be thus:
Breakfast:  a bowl of high-fiber, low-sugar cereal with walnuts or almonds and whatever fruit I can find–sometimes,  a dollop of plain Greek yogurt on top.
Lunch:  an apple, some toast with hummus, a handful of carrots.  If I want a little dessert, I will typically have it after lunch.
Dinner:  A stir-fry and salad; or grilled lean meat and salad; roasted meat and veggies and salad.

For snacks I eat a small handful of almonds, a fruit, a frozen banana and skim milk smoothie–these are wonderful things!

I aim for my most of my carbs to come primarily from fruit rather than from starchy sources like potatoes, corn, pasta, rice, or bread.
I do have a sweet tooth, but I don’t eat junk food, and I don’t drink caloric beverages (other than perhaps wine).  So, some great quality chocolate or some home baked yummy treats don’t present problems  to me in maintaining my healthy weight.  But if something is very caloric, it must be delicious and special if I’m going to eat it!

How do you fit running into your busy life? Any tips?

My main tip is to fix it into life as a non-negotiable, just like eating and sleeping.  We must exercise for our health, just as we must eat and sleep.  I find that most people are successful if they do it first thing in the morning.  Those who wait till evening have a tendency to be less consistent.  Certainly some people are wonderfully successful who plan their evenings to work out, but I’m telling you without a doubt that they are the minority!

Question: Who’s your favorite Olympian this year?

I love Aly.


  1. says

    haha. i did that with iced tea the other day. did you hear international delights is selling iced coffee in a carton now? hmmm.. new addiction for me.

    great story. i do like running a bunch more than I used to. but many times I still say ‘i hate running’. so I will just keep running until I change my mind.

    Cara looks wonderful and is definitely an inspiration!

  2. Suzanne says

    I don’t think I could live without carbs. Her diet is a lot lighter than I would expect, given her muscle mass!

  3. Jamie says

    It doesn’t look like enough food for all that activity. I got a stress fracture from running and not eating enough. I learned my lesson.

  4. says

    That story is very inspirational! :) If you’re ever looking for another person to interview, I’m all for it! (down 110 lbs, working on 2nd marathon!)

    I can’t get enough of your blog! :) I check it daily!

    My favorite Olympian is Kara Goucher (girl crush), haha!

  5. Erin says

    I’m sorry but how the f can you work out so much when you are eating a piece of bread with hummus for lunch? i would die.

  6. says

    I can barely motivate myself to run and I have just myself to worry about, let alone 4 kids! Cara is so inspirational!

    My fave Olympian this year, without a doubt, is Kara Goucher!

  7. Kristen says

    Cara is truly inspirational! Not only is she amazing in what she has accomplished she is truly a kind hearted woman.
    When I began my journey of a healthier life style, I found her before picture at the local gym that she was working at. I hired her as my first trainer for a few months to get me started. (That was years ago)
    Still to this day, if I see her at a gym working out, she will stop and have a conversation with me and we share ideas. I still get emails from her too.
    She loves what she does and the people that she has worked with.
    She is an amazing woman!

  8. says

    What an amazing post! Thanks for sharing!
    Hey Monica, I just joined Twitter, follow me @SouthGirlRun, thanks girl! Love your blog!

  9. says

    I know a lot of people have said this but she really doesn’t eat much…especially given that she does an hour of cardio a day plus constant walking. Sounds like she wasn’t eating enough when she was losing and hurt her metabolism; I wish you’d asked how quickly she lost it!

  10. Megan says

    Woohoo go Brooks ID! I have been an IDer for 3 years now and I love it! It helps to have loved Brooks in the first place :)

  11. Kellie says

    I think that her food intake is incredibly restrictive and low. I see a nutritionist due to a previous eating disorder. I am finally at a healthy weight again and my period has returned after two years. I got the ok to train for a marathon and work out 6 days a week (running, weights, yoga, spin, etc) and the amount of food I eat on my food plan in order to maintain my weight is probably 5x’s what she eats. Example of breakfast for me is an Ezekiel English Muffin, 2TB nut butter, banana and a cup of 2% milk followed after I work out with two eggs, a piece of toast and another 1/2 cup of milk. I used to eat what she ate and I developed a really unhealthy low pulse, ammenorhea and a stress fracture. I am not saying that everyone needs to eat the same, but her intake is disturbingly low and not a very good example to other athletes. If you are going to work hard you have to fuel hard.

  12. Heather says

    I am super proud that Cara has reached her goals but like the previous posters I am a bit alarmed by her current diet. Maybe she snacks a ton on those snack food but this really doesn’t seem like enough food.

  13. melissa schott says

    I love to look up to athletes, especially when they have such a great journey to how they got there. but, like many have been saying, her “intake” seems to be rather low. Since I’ve also recovered from an ED I think it’s important to look up to a “healthy” athlete. That includes nutrition, workouts etc. I’m not saying that we are not all different, far from it, but I would say that just by doing the math, 1h+ cardio and pure muscle mass = more than a piece of toast. So, anyways, this is not a rant. It’s just my observation.

  14. Elena says

    Well I found Cara’s story to be very inspirational. I don’t see how people can say shes not eating enough when she didn’t tell you what her portion sizes were and she mentions she snacks. (almonds are high calorie too). She looks healthy and fit, she is obviously doing something right! Great story, Cara:) thanks for sharing, Monica

  15. Crystal says

    Why is every inspirational story on hlb’s lately focused on someone who has incredibly restrictive eating habits?

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