will tell you that having a workout buddy or a weight-loss mentor will
help you stick to your fitness program. But millions of TV viewers as
your cheering section?
Cassie Kraemer had going for her during her quest to get back in
shape. Over a one-year span, Kraemer lost 176 pounds ó more than
half her body weight ó in a journey documented on ABCís
"Extreme Weight Loss."
the accountability and I needed the help. I recognized that,"
says Kraemer. "Itís the answer to my prayers. Being on TV isnít
for everyone, but itís also very freeing to let it all out
Now a toned 167
pounds, 5-feet-7-inches, Kraemer carries herself with a pride that
once was unimaginable. She had been overweight for nearly 20 years.
self-confidence is up, my self-esteem is up," says Kraemer, 41,
who lives in West Allis. "Now because I have so much more energy
and I feel so much better about myself, Iím a better employee, a
better friend, a better wife ≠ó just better all the way
Kraemer had been physically fit. She had an unplanned pregnancy at age
21 and placed her son up for adoption ≠ó events that set into
motion years of overeating and a sedentary lifestyle.
She worked from
home and barely left the house. When she had marital difficulties in
2009, the then-250-pound Kraemer packed on another 100 pounds.
Her turn on
"Extreme Weight Loss" included individual and couples
therapy to address her painful past.
"I tried a
million different diets, but I had never dealt with the emotional
side," says Kraemer. "This was the first time I had done
that. That probably was the biggest thing for me, to be able to
actually get to the underlying root and have the tools to not turn to
food for comfort."
selected to be on the TV series after she wrote a letter to Chris
Powell, one of the trainers on the show, to ask for his help. She
wanted to lose weight before reaching out to her son, now a college
student in Ohio.
want to meet him overweight, because that wasnít the person I was or
should be," Kraemer explains. "And I was turning 40. Iíd
been 20 and blinked my eyes and all of a sudden I was 40. I didnít
want to blink my eyes again and be 60, and look back on my life and
regret missing out on everything."
the showís Season 4 began with a 90-day boot camp in Denver,
including testing and evaluation at the University of Coloradoís
Anschutz Health and Wellness Center. The work there was hard but
worthwhile, says Kraemer.
beautiful state, and itís very active compared to Wisconsin,"
returned home, Kraemer stuck to a workout plan seven days a week. She
also followed Powellís "Choose More, Lose More for Life"
nutrition plan, which features alternating high-carb/low-carb days
known as "carb cycling."
Kraemer got help
from an unexpected source ó former Green Bay Packer star Donald
Driver, who came to her home and helped her replace unhealthy foods in
her kitchen with better options. He also worked out with her for
several days. "Heís a great motivator and a kind and caring
man," says Kraemer.
She says she
quickly got used to a camera crew following her around, documenting
the ups and downs. "Itís best not to pay attention to that, so
you can be real and authentic," she explains. "Lots of
people act differently when the camera is on them. I was just
Or maybe itís
that Kraemer was just too busy to notice. She exercised two to three
hours a day, six days a week (one hour on Sundays) and attended
classes at Lakeland Collegeís Milwaukee Center, in addition to
holding down her job as a financial analyst with AT&T. She was
awarded her MBA in finance on May 4, just 10 days before her finale
episode was filmed.
How did she fit
it all in?
up early and get my two-hour workout in before work. I just didnít
have any time to waste. The TV was barely turned on. I was in bed by
8:30 p.m. so I could get eight hours of sleep," Kraemer explains.
that year, I had to put myself first. I had a schedule, and unless it
was a life-or-death situation, whatever I had scheduled at that time,
thatís what I was doing."
Kraemer did meet
her son at her 90-day welcome home event, at Jacksonís Blue Ribbon
Pub at the former Pabst brewery, when she was celebrating a 77-pound
weight loss. She calls that reunion "awesome and awkward."
But it motivated her to continue with her healthy lifestyle. He also
was in the audience at her one-year "reveal."
between Kraemer and her husband is also stronger now. Halfway through
her weight-loss year, he turned to better eating and exercise habits
and lost 64 pounds. "We eat well together and have fun
together," she says.
Since the show
aired in July, Kraemer returned to Colorado to have surgery to remove
excess skin. To maintain her new weight, she exercises an hour a day.
Among her favorite workouts are circuit and strength training, team
sports and dance classes. Sheís also big on trampoline aerobics at
Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park in Waukesha.
really fun, and you burn up to 1,000 calories an hour," she
explains. "You feel like a 3-year-old, because youíre jumping
around and having a good time. I like to do things that trick you into
working out, that donít feel like a workout."
in paying it forward. She maintains a special Facebook page to
encourage others who want to lose weight. The T-shirt she sports in
one photo sums up her new outlook on a healthy lifestyle. It reads:
"Too Fit to Quit."
for healthy eating:
out where you spend the most calories ó for a lot of people, itís
soda ó and if you cut that back, youíll lose weight without
changing anything else."
have to wait ítil Monday to start the program. You can start it at
the next meal. If you mess up, thatís OK. Start over again at the
going to allow myself to eat what I want on the holidays, but I wonít
turn each day into a week-long celebration."