Dance Your Ass Off Contestant Katie Fanok Talks Losing Weight and Gaining Happiness

Katie Fanok; Image via: Charles Bush Photography

For years, Katie Fanok struggled with depression and insomnia. Counselors labeled her “depressed” and prescribed her drugs, but after realizing the drugs merely amplified the depression, Katie set her sights on a workable solution.

For her, it was dance. And so she danced. But after surgery for an injured ankle rendered her more than reluctant to continue with her passion, Katie began to pack on the pounds. Fed up with her physical condition – and now more depressed than ever – Katie took a friend’s advice and auditioned for the TV dance/weight loss show Dance Your Ass Off. had a chance to talk to Katie about her transformation experience on DYAO. Here is what this newly svelte dancer had to say about her reality show debut.

What were your expectations going into the competition?

I never watched reality shows, not even a single episode of the Biggest Loser, so I really didn’t know what to expect, but I knew the end result was to lose weight and I was interested. It was my friend’s prompting that inspired me to go. She encouraged me to audition and I wasn’t offended since I’ve been overweight my whole life.

When I was cast for Dance Your Ass Off, I was so overjoyed. I kept thinking I was going to get to get cut. I was thrilled to make it as far as I did and to end up where I did.

What did you learn while on the series?

We had a nutritionist, trainer and a doctor who worked with us closely. Before the series began, I had a preliminary physical to assess my current health status as well as discussed my long-term health goals. I was fortunately pretty healthy for being so overweight, but those chronic conditions, like diabetes, were not that far away from me.

We would often meet with the nutritionist and she gave us food logs and explained to us what our goals should be for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. And we also worked with a trainer. Every day, I did one hour of cardio in the morning, strength training and rehearsal in the afternoon and more cardio in the evening.

What does your health look like now?

Currently, I weigh 146 pounds. I’m 5’ 4” so that puts my BMI just at 25, which is on the cusp of the healthy/overweight level. I started out at 216 pounds. I lost 90 pounds total, 70 of which I lost on the show and 20 pounds I lost just before the auditions.

How has the experience changed you?

I feel so much better! When you’re overweight for so long, you fight it and hide it and cover it up with this fake happiness, but deep down it’s far from genuine. All of my joints used to hurt and now they don’t hurt anymore.

It’s a lifestyle change. I still eat McDonald’s but I’m smart about it. I eat a lot of meals spaced out over the day. I eat every two hours, I drink a lot of water and I just got my certification to teach Jazzercise. I’ve been amazed at how this older fitness form has really evolved over the years.

I’ve never felt better!

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