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'I want to live a long time': Mom drops 78 pounds, goes from size 18 to 4

After Kari Hammond's daughter, Alexa, said she was worried about Hammond's weight, Hammond followed four steps to lose 78 pounds.
/ Source: TODAY

In January 2016, Kari Hammond stumbled upon her 15-year-old daughter, Alexa, crying. When Hammond asked Alexa what was wrong, she said she was worried about her mom because Hammond was so overweight — at 5 foot 5 inches tall, she weighed 217 pounds. And, Alexa was also afraid she’d grow up to be "fat."

“It was kind of a come-to-Jesus moment for me,” Hammond told TODAY.

But Hammond had been overweight since she hit puberty and wasn’t quite sure how to lose it. She had tried loads of diets where she’d lose weight and then gain that weight back — and then some. She decided to ask her mom, who always exercised and ate healthy foods, what to do. Her mom, Randi Longmeier, gave Hammond four recommendations:

  1. Cut sugar from your diet.
  2. Exercise regularly.
  3. Track what you eat.
  4. Build a community.

“I tried a lot of different things than these four things [in the past],” Hammond said.

But this time she followed her mom's advice and started by cutting sugar. After eating no sugar for two weeks, she downloaded an app, Lose it! to track all of her calories and her exercise. Next she started tabata workouts, high-intensity training with a 10-second break between each 20-second interval of exercise. At first, she could only work out for 10 minutes before she felt exhausted. But she kept trying and built up her stamina.

In a few weeks, the weight started coming off quickly. But then it leveled off.

“It was a really steady loss for me,” she said.

When Kari Hammond's daughter, Alexa, told her mom she was worried about her health because Hammond was so overweight, Hammond decided to get healthier.Courtesy of Kari Hammond

As she continued losing, she altered her goals to match what she was doing. Originally, she thought she’d like to be at a health body mass index, which was 150 pounds. After reaching that, she adjusted and lost more weight and now weighs 135 pounds.

In total, she lost 78 pounds. Being flexible helped her be successful. She also added some muscle by doing tabata-style exercises for 40 minutes and walking for an hour each day.

“I used to think I had no time for exercise. Forty minutes of exercise is 4 percent of my day, I can give myself 4 percent of my day,” she said. “That was life changing.”

For the past nine months, she has been maintaining her loss. She still relies on the four suggestions that Longmeier gave her and learned she was stronger than she realized.

“I can do really hard things,” she said. “Health is important and I want to live a long time.”

In less than a year Kari Hammond dropped 78 pounds by following four tips her mother gave her.Courtesy KC England Photography

Hammond provided tips to others hoping to lose weight.

1. Have non-number goals.

When the number on the scale doesn’t budge, it can feel overwhelming. That’s why Hammond looked at other wins during her weight-loss journey. She celebrated milestones, such as feeling more comfortable in a chair, having a noticeable collarbone or seeing one chin instead of two. This kept her from feeling frustrated.

2. Be consistent.

Logging every single thing she ate and her exercise helped her lose steadily and keep the weight off.

“I am super consistent. I have literally logged every single thing I have eaten for 450 days,” she said. “I am that dedicated to this process.”

3. Move on.

There are days when Hammond eats twice the calories she was supposed to eat. When that happened in the past as she tried losing weight, she’d give up. Now, she takes a more realistic approach.

Since losing 78 pounds, Kari Hammond finds that she enjoys being active and has a harder time just sitting on the couch.Courtesy KC England Photography

“I made many mistakes,” she said. “I recognize it and move on from it.”

For more weight-loss inspiration, check out our My Weight-Loss Journey page.