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home | Karen's Journey | Karens Journey

Karen's Journey

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     Hi, my name is Karen Daniel. I have bones now that I have eliminated weight. Not that I didn't have them before, but now I can see and feel them. I am your catalyst for your weight elimination journey.

      This picture was taken right before my first workout with a trainer. I weighed exactly 375 pounds that day. I remember being so scared and uncomfortable in my own skin. How did I let myself get to this point? Why did I let myself go? I don't know why, but, I knew I couldn't live my life like that anymore. I had a lot of problems with my knees. I had high blood pressure; I was always hot and couldn't breathe when I did anything. I was always tired and didn't feel good. Even with these problems, I lived like that for years. I wouldn't say I wasted my life, but I do have a saying about this time of my life: I wasn't living, I wasn't surviving, I was just existing. The day I decided I would eliminate weight for myself and not for other people, was the day my life changed forever. I will never go back to being the person you see, so unhappy and sad. Life is so worth living. The sweat, tears, fears, and everything I've gone through are nothing compared to how good life can be. Now I have a list of things I want to do and I add things to that list that come up in the spur of the moment. This way I am always adding things to do and accomplish. One accomplishment I want to is to be the catalyst in helping people get fit and healthy.

     This picture to the right is...me in my bright red dress. I almost didn't get the dress, because I haven't really worn red before. My husband talked me into it. I'm so glad he did, because I am starting to like how I look in red. Wow! Stepping out of my comfort zone or going out of my box was hard to do sometimes. The more you do it the easier it becomes.

     Here's my journey: I wasn't fat all my life. I was always muscular, but not fat. I started gaining weight at 18 and kept gaining. When I got pregnant I actually eliminated 75 pounds because my doctor told me not to gain one ounce. After the pregnancy I regained it all back and a lot more. Ten years later with my second pregnancy, the same thing happened. When Mckenna, our youngest of two daughters, was in 4th grade a boy was being mean to her. He told other children a joke about how our family went to the ocean and a whale popped up and starting singing "We Are Family" to me. Even that didn't make me start to eliminate weight. It was a series of things that finally made me not want to live that obese life. I realized I just couldn't live that way anymore. Life was hard being soooo fat. I decided to buy an exercise chair that I saw advertised on television. It was for senior citizens and could hold 400 pounds; I figured it was a good place to start. That's when I met the owner of the gym. He gave me some of his literature and told me if I needed anything or a jump start to get started, to give him a call. I told my sister Jan that I was thinking about doing training, but I wasn't sure. She asked me if I would get the training for Paul or the girls if they needed it. Of course I would, I wouldn't have thought twice about it. So why wouldn't I do it for myself? She made me realize I was worth it, as much as they were. She was right, so I signed up for training and only told Jan, and my two daughters Sarah and Mckenna. I didn't tell anyone else. What if I failed again? What if I couldn't do it? I didn't want to hear criticism from anyone.

     On September 15, 2006 I went to my first workout session with a trainer. I had never trained or went to a gym before. I weighed 375 pounds at 5'5". When I arrived, I was wearing a dress on top of my sweats. I never wore pants outside my house. Pants don't hide the fact that you're fat, but I thought a dress did. It's funny how our minds work. The trainer must have thought I was crazy. He never said that, but come on, who wears a dress over workout clothes? The gym was a private studio and the training was one-on-one, so no one was in there except Mckenna, me and the trainer. Mckenna came to a lot of my workouts in the beginning. She did cardio while I trained for an hour. Before my first workout, the trainer took my measurements. He tried to cover up the fact the tape measure wouldn't fit around my hips and we had to add 7 inches. I was officially 2 inches wider around then I was tall. That was a big butt. I also couldn't fit on his scale or in some of his machines when I started. I had 54.60 % body fat and was out of shape, but I made it through my first workout and didn't die. I worked out three times a week. I couldn't even sit on the toilet that first week because my legs hurt so much, but I felt good. I let Paul know I was training after my first week of workouts, but I didn't let anyone else know. I felt if I kept it to myself so no one could say anything. I started to let people in slowly. I changed the way I ate and prepared things for myself and my family.

     When I had eliminated 102 pounds, I was so excited. I got to wear the trainer's World Series Ring to celebrate. The funny thing is I still didn't see myself looking any different from when I first started to eliminate weight. The mind is a funny thing to fix; you have to really look hard to see the difference. I felt different and had to buy smaller clothes, but I still didn't see it. I celebrated eliminating 100 pounds by getting my first pedicure, my sister Jan got it as a present for me. I felt I could get a pedicure, because I had eliminated 100 pounds and I could fit in the chair with the arm rest. I also wouldn't worry about breaking the chair. My daughters and husband bought me a Tiffany's bracelet with a heart charm that had Mom on it and then they engraved 100 on the back. It was an exciting time for me. Then my one year 'journey' anniversary came. I had eliminated 114 pounds in that first year. The truth is you never realize how much you can accomplish in just one year. If someone can learn anything it would be;if you have to eliminate 5 to 25 pounds that is like a divot in the road. If you need to eliminate 25 to 50 pounds that is like a pothole in the road. If you need to eliminate 50 to 100 pounds it is like a sink hole. If you need to eliminate more than 100 pounds it is like a crater. Don't wait until you're in a crater. It is a lot harder getting out of a crater than getting out of a pothole.

     Right after CNN put me on their website, Kate Nolan of the Scottsdale Republic wrote a story on me. CNN had my weight on their website and I was concerned, but I didn't have to tell people if I didn't want to, so no one could find out my weight. When the newspaper story came out, my weight was there in bold print. I was horrified to think people would know how much I weighed. The day the newspaper was delivered, I tried to run out our front door when my husband asked what I was doing. I told him I needed to get the next door neighbor's newspaper, because it said my weight. He told me not to steal the newspaper. I said I wasn't, I was just getting the part I was in. I went out to get the paper only to find the neighbor already taken it inside. I was so upset. How was I going to face them, with them knowing my true weight? I always kept how much I weighed a secret. My older daughter and husband tried to comfort me. Oh, not very many people read that section, don't worry. Then Mckenna, the smart one, told me "Are you kidding? Thousands will see it." Oh my gosh, I never thought about that. I started to get calls, and when people saw me they told me that they had read the article. People went up to my husband and told him that they saw the article as well. Mckenna was SO right. Even with all the weight I had eliminated, I was ashamed of how much I used to weigh and how much I still weighed. It took awhile, but I was okay with people knowing my weight.

     After I did my first interview and my first lecture, I was very surprised that people thought that I had accomplished a tremendous feat. If I heard someone telling me the same story I would have thought the same thing. I think it is because I take one day at a time so I see the small things not the big weight elimination.

     My first plane ride since I had eliminated a lot of weight was a much different experience for me. Even though I was 140 pounds lighter I still worried about fitting down the aisle, fitting in one seat without a seat belt extender and being able to put the tray down. I have not been able to have a tray down almost my entire adult life. For the first time, I felt that I was a normal size. It was a nice feeling not having to worry about breaking chairs, fitting in chairs with arms, being the biggest (fattest) person in a room and finally thinking you look good. Most people don't understand that there are a lot of little things 'big' people cannot do.

     For me this trip was much more than a vacation and family reunion. It was a victory!

     On our family trip we went to U.S. National Whitewater Center. I had an absolute ball there with my family. It had so many different things to do. We went whitewater rafting, learned how to kayak and do a rope challenge course. The rope challenge course had a 32 foot cargo net you had to climb up. We plan on going back soon to experience more of what they have to offer. If you are in North Carolina you should look them up, same with Scream Time Zipline. I had always wanted to zipline, but I couldn't do it in a dress and let alone thinking that the cable could break. I found out the zipline could hold more than a few jeeps. What a rush. Those three days I spent with my family doing activities was the best vacation we have ever had. It was also the first time we planned a vacation around physical activities.

     During our family reunion we went to the beach. I didn't put on a swimsuit, but I used that beach more than anyone else there. I walked on the beach every morning and evening, in lieu of my normal workout in the gym back in Arizona. I made my favorite healthy recipes for everyone and I realized how far I had come since the last reunion. The last reunion I went to the beach once and only for a few moments.

     I came back a changed woman. I look forward to my next adventure with my family by my side.

     On September 15, 2008 I celebrated the 2nd anniversary of my journey. In some ways I can't believe it has already been 2 years. In some ways it seems like I have been doing this for a lifetime. I had eliminated 140 pounds and my body fat was down to 28.5 % body fat. I had eliminated 15 inches in my waist, 20 inches in my hips, 7 inches in my shoulders, 14 inches in my chest, 12 inches in my right thigh, 5 inches in my right calf, 5.5 inches in my right bicep and 2.25 inches around my neck. When I see all that, I can't believe I have eliminated so many inches. No wonder why my sweats fall off. CNN called and wanted to interview me. What a privilege.

     On October 16, 2008, Matt and Orlando from CNN came out to interview and video tape me. I had a lot of fun. I didn't want it to be a normal interview, so after taping in the gym we climbed up Hole in the Rock. With my family by my side we got there right when the sun was setting, what a beautiful sunset. Then we woke up early the next day and went hot air ballooning. I was a little scared, but I had Sarah with me, along with Matt and Orlando. The balloon ride was so peaceful. The next time I want to hot air balloon in Sedona with Paul and Mckenna joining Sarah and me.

     Matt asked me if I would go to New York for Fit Nation's Summit. I said yes; I didn't realize that he meant as an ireporter and I was going to be one of the success stories there.  Before I went to New York; I took pictures of when I started out and at that moment.  At first when I saw the now pictures, I'm not going to lie, I was disappointed.  I only saw the negative.  Then I put the pictures side by side and I told myself; "Are you kidding look how far you have come." 

     New York was amazing; I got to share where I was born with my family. Mckenna had never been there before. We did all the tourist things and I got to visit family, who I hadn't seen for a very long time. Look under Fit Nation Summit to see pictures and the story of the best night of my life.

     When I got back from New York, I got really sick. I still blame the sign I kissed, you should always know who kissed the sign before you. Sometimes your body needs to rest and take a break. It isn't always what you had planned or wanted, it just is what it is. It took a long time for me to get back on my feet and get healthy again. Life is good, and I wouldn't have changed anything I've done. With an obstacle or a setback you learn things you would have never learned before. Use an obstacle as a stepping stone.

     I'm doing things that I wouldn't have dreamed of doing when I started my journey. Don't live in fear, welcome the challenge and you become a better person. Life can be everything you have dreamed about with a little bit of dedication, commitment and hard work.

     I signed my family and I up for a race called Urban Dare. On March 28, 2009 we were in a race like the Amazing Race on TV. My family and I watch this show and love it. I would have never thought two years ago I would be looking forward to running, doing challenges, and competing. We didn't win the whole race (Sarah's guy friend Sam did), but we did win it in the family division. We got a plaque and we completed it under the time allowed.

     My family and I just got back from Europe.  I lectured in Madrid, Spain about what it was like being obese and how to help them change peoples' lives. Then my and I went to Barcelona, Monaco, Modena, Florence and ending up in Rome, Italy.  What a trip; it truly was a trip of a lifetime.  We leave soon to travel to Ireland.  I can't wait for the adventure that's waiting for my family and me.  I'll be talking to you soon.

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