Perfect Losers

Kitty Deen swears her personality has a wickedly sarcastic side.

So when her longtime friend and personal trainer, Christina Larson, told a 150-pound Deen that she’d be competing in body and figure competitions before the end of the year, Deen just smirked. 

“We were at a bar,” says Deen, “so I raised my glass of vodka to her, said ‘yeah, right,’ then threw my head back and took a big drink.” 

Deen should have known that most sarcastic responses have their roots in the truth. At her heaviest, the 5’6” merchandising and logistics manager weighed 170 pounds. And although she was an athlete who had never stopped exercising, the pounds had collected over the years. Now 43 years old, the self-described tomboy couldn’t begin to imagine parading bikini-clad in front of anyone, much less judges.

But perhaps sarcasm and bullheadedness are twin traits. Unable to resist picking up a gauntlet thrown down, Deen soon began showing up more regularly at Larson’s Leawood gym, His & Her Fitness. Having formerly skirted it, she now agreed to follow her trainer’s diet of low-cal, low-fat, high-protein foods.

“People think that in order to lose weight you don’t eat,” says Deen. “But the truth is, you actually have to eat more often.”

Eating often meant consuming five meals a day, a regimen that left Deen “never hungry.” It also meant eating “clean” non-processed, low-sodium foods, like chicken breasts and quinoa for dinner and oatmeal and egg white pancakes for breakfast. But, contrary to what you might think, she wasn’t breaking her budget or her patience by shopping at Whole Foods every two days. “I shopped for everything at Costco once a week only,” she laughs. 

And while she admits the process was hard work, she insists it “never felt hard.” The same goes for her workouts, which led Deen to an epiphany. “The surprise is that you do not have to kill yourself doing cardio,” she says. She did moderate cardio every day for only 30 minutes, something she says anyone can do even without expensive equipment. “All you need is a crack in the sidewalk and you can do jumps. Or high steps and kicks wherever you are.”

Key, too, was the interval training in which Deen varied her exertion level to increase caloric burn. She likens the process to the gasoline burned by a car: starts and stops use more gas whereas constant highway driving uses less. “It’s a way to work out smarter, not harder,” she says. 

Ultimately, just five months after her sarcastic toast to Larson, Deen donned a swimsuit–“a petrifying process” she admits–for her first figure competition. She weighed 130 pounds with 14 percent body fat, a far cry from where she had started. At her second competition last October she measured just 11 percent body fat and 123 pounds. 

To prove Deen isn’t dreaming about all she’s attained, she might need to pinch herself–if only there were anything left to pinch. Overall, she’s shrunk from a “tight size 12” to a size 0. And while she loves to shop for clothes now, feeling better than ever is the best part of all. “I’m a more positive person now,” she notes.

She still goes out to restaurants with friends and even drinks an occasional vodka to remind her of how it all started. Today she gives Larson and His & Her Fitness the bulk of the credit: “I could never have done all this without their confidence,” she insists.

And while she confesses to an occasional “cheat,”–a Reese’s peanut butter cup once every couple weeks–Deen is still devoted to her new diet and lifestyle, and still open to the idea of entering future figure competitions. 

But what do her friends think about her new passion for fitness and figure? “For the most part, everyone is thrilled,” she says. “I have only one friend who accuses me of ‘joining the cult,'” she laughs. 

Is Deen offended by the comment? “Nah,” says Deen. “If anyone can appreciate sarcasm, I can.”

words: Cisley Thummel

photos: Paul Versluis