Real life weight loss: How Kaela used kickboxing to lose 109lbs over 15 months

Kaela went from 269lbs to 160lbs over 15 months after a diagnosis of manic depression

Brand New Me: Kaela
(Image credit: Marcus Cooper / Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing)

Kaela McKenna, 24, from New York City, has lost 109lbs all naturally. But for her, the biggest transformation is less to do with the weight she has lost and more the person she has become. From someone who would eat 50 chicken nuggets from McDonalds and hated the taste of vegetables to someone who goes kickboxing and eats a plant-based diet, Kaela’s lifestyle has done a 180. 

Kaela admits struggling with her weight gain, at her heaviest weighing 269lbs. After meeting her eventual wife Steph, the couple got married and live together in Long Island, NY. While both describe the wedding day as one of the happiest of their lives, they admit neither felt happy in the clothes they were wearing. 

Kaela’s size 22 wedding dress was encrusted with jewels on the back but when she put it on it was so tight she could barely move in it. As she smiled and posed for pictures, Kaela was all too aware of how uncomfortable she felt, both physically and emotionally in the dress. After being diagnosed by the doctor as pre-diabetic Kaela decided she had to make a change, trading the fast food joints for the keto diet

Although she lost weight, the keto diet turned out to be near-fatal for Kaela: a severe lactose allergy left her oesophagus in effect scabbing up, making it difficult to eat even soup. 

Watch Kaela's inspiring weight loss story here:

Although she lost weight, the keto diet turned out to be near-fatal for Kaela: a severe lactose allergy left her oesophagus in effect scabbing up, making it difficult to eat even soup. 

Kaela had to cut out dairy and eventually started eating a fully-plant based diet. Although there are unhealthy ways to eat plant-based, both processed meats and unprocessed red meats were linked to long-term weight gain according to the National Institutes of Health, and swapping these out to plant-based protein sources can lengthen your life, as processed red meats are considered carcinogenic. If you would like to try following in Kaela's footsteps, our list of the best vegan cookbooks are a good starting point. 

Dropping over 100lbs, Kaela currently weighs 160lbs. Now her old wedding dress hangs off her and Kaela has set herself the goal weight of 145lbs, when she hopes to retake her and Steph’s wedding photos. 

Diagnosed with manic depression when she was younger, the healthy diet and exercise regime has also been a vital part of maintaining good mental health. Whereas in the past episodes of manic depression would either leave her, as a teenager, eating barely anything or, into adulthood, massively overeating, Kaela has finally found the equilibrium her body and mind both need.

Performed in rounds like circuit training, kickboxing is a great workout, as it improves mobility and strength in addition to cardio. In addition, classic boxing exercises like skipping and burpees are some of the best exercises for weight loss you can do. 

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