Losing 100 lbs. How I did it and why.

Before And After
I can’t believe I’m going to admit this.
A lady never admits to her weight. Especially not THIS lady.
But, this is the story of my road from 243 lbs to 142 lbs. (Should I rename this? Losing 101 lbs?)
As a child, I was tall and skinny. Then puberty hit, and I hit size 12. I stayed there for about 15 years. Not really heavy, but not in shape.
I was never in shape.
Somewhere around age 7, I decided that I didn’t want to exercise. I didn’t like it. I was uncoordinated and it felt embarrassing. Also, it was HARD!
My best friend told me it wasn’t girly to be sporty and I believed her. We wanted to learn how to put on makeup instead.
From then on, I avoided physical exertion at all costs. It became a basic part of my identity.
“I’m allergic to physical exertion. I don’t run if I’m not being pursued.” was my daily ‘joke’.
I was that girl who might be your best friend, but you sure weren’t going to pick for your team in gym class. I was totally useless in that department, and I made no effort to get any better.
I stuck to drama.
If you were in the school plays, you didn’t have to play a sport! *Phew*
All through high school and college, I was size 12-14. And all throughout those years, I hated my body. I dieted constantly, jumping from one fad diet to another.
But I never worked out. I wallowed in self-loathing instead. Self-loathing felt normal. It was where I lived. And still, I never moved my ass. Ever.
When I got pregnant with my daughter, I felt like I had been let out of diet jail. You’re not supposed to diet when you’re pregnant, right? You’re supposed to eat whatever you want in huge quantities when you’re pregnant, right? For the baby? Mmmmhmmm. So, I ate everything in sight and enjoyed every moment of it. Cakes, pies, cookies, ice cream, you name it, I ate it with a smile.
Know what happens when you do that?
I’ll tell you: You gain 60 lbs in 40 weeks. But I wasn’t TOO worried. I mean, it comes right off with breast-feeding, right? Wrong. Not for me, at least! Oh, how I envy the women whose bodies work that way!
I never lost a pound of my ‘baby weight’ and spent the years between my daughter’s birth and my son’s birth 2 1/2 years later at around 240 lbs. Large, in charge, and miserable. My friend Carrie had to DRAG me to my high school 10 year reunion. I was so embarrassed, I didn’t want to show my face.
I also happen to be married to a personal trainer. Can you imagine what it feels like to be the wife of a personal trainer and morbidly obese? Unable to shop in any ‘normal sizes’ stores? I was a size 22. They don’t make size 22 pants at the Gap. When you’re that big, plus-sized stores are your only option, and it feels awful.
I knew that I was not what anyone at my husband’s gym would expect a trainer’s wife to look like, so I never darkened their door.
I hid myself away. Cameras were my kryptonite.
I have very few pictures of myself with my babies, which I will probably regret for the rest of my life. But my self-loathing trumped all. And still, I didn’t work out.
After my son was born, I went on the Atkins diet. I lost a lot of weight, and was pretty excited about it. But, I approached it as ‘a diet’. It was something I was doing until I could stop.
And still, I did not work out.
When I got back to my old standard size of 14, I quit my diet and went back to my old eating habits. Predictably, the weight all came right back on. Once again – misery and self-loathing. Once again hiding from my husband’s gym.
Finally, when my son was 2 and my daughter 4 1/2, the perfect storm FINALLY arrived.
2 friends posted on Facebook about people that they knew – people in my age group – who had died young, one from a heart attack and another from complications of Diabetes.
It scared me. Badly.
Before having my kids, I had the same compulsion to stay alive that everyone has. But, since becoming their mom, I have this overwhelming, from the gut, NEED to be alive.
My children need me.
I imagined my precious babies growing up without a mother. Just the thought of it brings tears to my eyes. I need to be here for them more than anything else in the whole wide world. Seeing evidence of people my age dying from side-effects of morbid obesity was like a 2×4 to the head. My lifestyle was not only causing the familiar self-loathing that I’d lived with for so long, it could actually take me away from my kids.
And finally, my friend Andrew came to visit. Andrew was like me. He spent his whole life with no interest in the exercise scene. We did high school drama together and never played sports. He never got obese like I did, but neither of us were ever hard-bodies.
On the day that he came to visit, he was half the man he used to be! He looked like a whole different person. He looked amazing.
He had made the leap.
He had become a gym-goer.
He had discovered spinning, and he loved it.
He said that he found it addicting!
It was a revelation.
I’d seen former jocks put on weight then take it back off when they went back to their old jock ways, but I had never seen someone like me make the change, going from 30+ years of a sedentary existence into a life of fitness.
He told me: if he could do it, I could do it.
And, from HIM, I believed it!
That message is what has inspired me to start this blog.
If I can do it – ANYONE can do it.
Yes, even you.
Really.
What had changed (at last!) was my motivation. For decades I had dieted to be thin, to feel pretty. Oh, how I wanted to be thin and to feel pretty! And OH how I hated feeling fat! But that was it, and it wasn’t enough. I needed something much truer, much less superficial. I needed fear and a compulsion to live a healthy life. I didn’t need a diet, I needed a lifestyle change.
And so, with my family as my True North, I got off the couch for the first time in my 31 years.
My husband brought the cobweb-covered stationary bike out of the basement and into our bedroom, and I started taking walks with my mom. I began slow, because I was starting from sub-zero. But a miracle occurred: I found that it wasn’t as terrible as I always thought it would be. In fact, it felt a bit like momentum.
At the same time that I began to move, I went on what I called Atkins-Lite. I cut almost all complex carbohydrates out of my diet. And the thing about being morbidly obese is that when you make changes – even small changes – you see results pretty quickly. So, between walking, stationary biking and Atkins-Lite, I lost the first 60 lbs.
Then, at around 180 lbs, I plateaued in a big way. I began to despair. I began to sound like the people on supplement ads: “I did everything right, but nothing worked!”
Enter my amazing personal trainer husband. Now would be a good time to give him the shout-out that he so richly deserves. He’s known since he met me that my weight has always been a very sensitive topic. Say anything even remotely critical, even in the form of encouragement (“If you’re feeling fat, you should get out and take a walk!”) and you’re likely to end up with a crying Katey on your hands. So, he avoided all land mines. Even when I was 243 lbs, he never said a word. He just loved me through it, and I will always be grateful to him for it.
When I hit the wall at 180, I knew I had a gold mine of amazing fitness knowledge living right under my nose, so I finally asked for advice.
Cue a very nervous husband.
But, he kindly answered my questions. What I got from talking to him was this: Pay attention to calories (which I wasn’t doing at ALL with Atkins-Lite) and the Insanity Workouts might be a good next step for me.
I wasn’t ready to start counting calories yet – it sounded too hard! But, I decided to give Insanity a shot. I still can’t believe I did. But, I got it into my head that I wanted to prove something to myself. I wanted to prove that I could do something that nobody, most especially ME, ever thought that I could do. And so, I threw myself into Insanity with a stubborn determination to be better than I ever thought I could be.
During the first month of Insanity, I started to become STRONG. I have NEVER been STRONG before. I began to feel firm muscles in my thighs, see definition in my arms, feel abs in my stomach. I could close the trunk of my minivan without having to put the groceries down first! It was a total revelation.
And the best part about Insanity is this: You can do it all in the comfort of your own home! I’ve never been comfortable in a gym, so Insanity was the answer to my prayers. Nobody watching or judging, just you and your tv. I promise, if you saw me in my t-shirt and undies doing power jumps in the middle of my living room with a beet-red face, you would laugh. It’s not pretty.
Unfortunately, the number on the scale was not moving. Even worse, the tape wasn’t moving either. One of the best things my husband ever taught me about fitness is “It’s the tale of the tape, not the tale of the scale.” We – especially we WOMEN – become totally married to the numbers on those damn scales.
We associate certain numbers with self-worth, certain other numbers with shame. But, when you step back and think about it, are you pursuing a goal of a number? Or, are you pursuing the way you want to look in your clothes? For me, it’s all about the clothes. Who cares if I weigh 180 if I’m in a size 6? So, I track my measurements – but only once a month. It moves too slowly to avoid getting disappointed if I check every week like I do with the scale.
Frustratingly, after the first month of Insanity both the scale and the tape were staying put. Thank goodness I was seeing functional fitness changes & was determined to prove to myself that I could complete the whole program or I might have given up in defeat! Instead, I knew it was finally time to cave on the diet front.  I had to start food-tracking.
I’m not even going to pretend that this part isn’t a bit of a nightmare. I love eating until I feel full. I HATE to be hungry. It makes me cranky. But, I had my eyes on the prize, and I knew that if I was going to become the healthy mother I want to be, I had to make the leap. So, I went online and calculated my resting metabolic rate. I found that it was around 1500 calories per day. Ok, I thought. No problem.
Here’s what I didn’t realize: 1500 calories a day is A LOT less than I thought it was. Here’s what a typical calorie-restriction diet day looks like for me:
300 calories in my morning coffee (Shut up. Don’t judge me. If I don’t start my day with delicious coffee with cream, you don’t want to be around me.)
300 calories in a lunch salad with low-cal dressing OR veggies with no dressing & a piece of bread with peanut butter.
900 calories on dinner. I’ll happily save up all day for the chance to feel full just ONCE.
Typically, dinner was baked chicken, a little bit of rice or some such grain & a big salad, usually with yummy additives like olives & cheese to make it feel like I was eating something good and not just ‘diet food’. I’ll post more about foods that help me keep on track another day.
And that’s it.
No snacks.
No evening nightcap.
Nothing.
Lots of water to fool myself into feeling full-ish.
Staying in a calorie deficit is hard work and – if you’re anything like me – it takes strict attention. If I knew I wanted a glass of wine on a given night, I had to skip feeling full at dinner, or just have plain veggies for lunch. YUCK!  My husband says that alcohol is often the greatest pitfall for his clients. But it’s very true that if you are strict all day, then have a glass of wine at night, you’ve probably undone all of your hard work. Hopefully you have a faster metabolism than I do, and can eat more on a given day than I can.
When I combined more Insanity with food tracking, the last 40 pounds came off. I had found the formula at last.
I’m so sorry, dear whoever is reading this and hoping to find some magical solution.
The sad, sad truth is that I didn’t fully get what I wanted until I surrendered to the tried-and-true, age-old method: Diet and exercise. Calorie restriction with careful monitoring and sweating until you reach your outer limits.
I’ll be blogging more about how I did it and how I keep it off – which is the next endeavor!
Hope you’ll join me on my adventure, and please comment or message me if there’s anything you want to know more about – I’d love the ideas for what to post about!
(I promise – future posts won’t be quite as long-winded 😉 )
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24 thoughts on “Losing 100 lbs. How I did it and why.

  1. You look great!!! I’ve been thinking about trying Insanity but it looks like so much hard work!! LOL You’ve inspired me…I think I’ll have to see how it works for me. Keep it up, you’re looking very healthy & happy!

  2. Thanks for writing this! I am right there at your beginning right down to the Atkins start. It is good to know you were right where I am. I didn’t know! Keep it coming, You have officially inspired me to at least SEE what Insanity is all about ❤

  3. You are wrong, we all KNEW you could do it! I am so proud of you, Katey. You’re my new inspiration and motivator as one of those out-of-shape-jocks (which, by the way, feels shameful in its own special way…).

    Whenever I feel like going home straight after work instead of hitting the gym, or like grabbing a cupcake on my way to the subway, I’m going to think of you in size 4 jeans 🙂

    XOXO.

  4. So proud of you!!! Tell me more about the gluten free foods you eat – and what foods to avoid if you want to consider gluten free ….. Thanks Katey!!!!

  5. Hi Katey. I’m a friend of Whitney’s. I want you to know, I read every word of your post. I had tears in my eyes in the middle when you talked about what it was like to feel strong after a life of being sedentary. I was never obese, but I have always struggled with an unhealthy relationship with food. And exercise!? PUH! I did choir, you don’t have to exercise for choir. 😉 In the last couple of years, I started exercising in order to stay OFF anti-depressants, and it has worked. But better than that, I FEEL AMAZING. It is so worth it. I also changed my eating habits quite a lot when I had some health problems a while back. There are no magic tricks, as you say, but the hard work is rewarding. Thanks for sharing your story. I look forward to following along!

  6. Such an inspiring story. I saw this linked thru a mutual friend on Facebook. After having a baby recently, 15months, I am struggling to find something to help me get back in shape, shake this icky malaise and stop pacifying myself with sweets! I want to be a better example to my little girl. Thanks for posting this. You’re amazing.

  7. I found this through a friend on Facebook and enjoyed reading. I am very happy to hear that you feel better about yourself. I also think it’s important that you note that there is no magic to this and that the only way it really happens is through diet and exercise. The only thing I will say is that I think there is a real fat shaming angle to all this. As someone who has struggled with their weight over the years, I have found that the path to health and weight loss needs to come partly through being less critical of yourself. You write “when you are that far gone…” as if you had a terminal disease. Yes, you were fat, and it was probably twice as hard to be bigger with a personal trainer husband. But clearly he loved you when you were big, and your body allowed you to perform the miracle of carrying a child successfully not once but twice. I definitely think you should embrace and enjoy your success, and you do look terrific. But I think you looked pretty cute in your before picture too.

  8. You are a wonder, surely! And an Inspiration! You look fabulous…. I wonder if I do all of that if I’ll look as good in that red dress…. maybe, at my age, something a bit more subdued.

  9. Hi! I’m visiting from your cousin’s blog. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m extremely private about my weight too, so I understand how hard it must be. But what an encouragement! Congratulations on your success and hard work.

  10. I just found your blog via the Huffington Post. I’ve read a half-dozen entries and want to say how delightful and inspiring your journey and your writing are. I hope to visit the blog often.

    At age 61, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes about 5 weeks ago (knew it would get me someday) and have had to entirely change my diet to low-carb, no-sugar (except in fruit, in moderation). I started at about 254 lbs and am just under 240 now, so I’m doing well with slow steady weight loss. I’m 5’7-3/4″, so we share almost the same height. I’m wondering, though, how you ever needed size 24 clothing. I’m basically the same height and weight you were “before”, and I wear a 16w or 1x in plus sizes. Anyway, I need to start food-journaling because I”m awful about portions and keeping track of calories. Thanks for all the tips you’ve written in your blog. One of these days I’ll figure out how to fit in exercise (schedule-wise) — I can’t run due to knee arthritis. Cheers! – Anne

    • Hi Anne! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog!
      I think that I managed to get up to a size 24 because I had precisely zero muscle mass. My weight was mostly fat mass. It wasn’t cute.
      Hope you can find that time to exercise – it will do wonders for your confidence and healthy-life momentum.
      Good luck with your journey! I’ll be cheering you on.
      Katey

  11. I just found your blog today and spent the last little while reading the entire contents. I went on my first run last night and although I am only a few pounds overweight I found it extremely challenging but your motivational posts really inspired me to find my own personal motivation! Working to a stronger me, thanks Happy Exhaustion!

  12. I seen your story on AOL news and thought it sounded interesting. I am almost 23 years old and have been a steady 125 pounds throughout late middle school to high school. That all changed when I turned 18 and had twins. I gained 85 pounds during my pregnancy. Right after they were born I weighed 167 pounds. Just like you I ate anything and everything during my pregnancy and thought it’ll come off after they’re born. WRONG! It only got worse. As I write this I am currently as the scale said this morning 200 pounds. I have tried the calorie counting and felt like I was starving, I bought the P90x and that lasted about a week. I constantly find myself giving up. Now my girls are 4 years old and just started preschool, they are more active then ever before and it’s very hard to keep up. It’s sad actually I feel bad that I can’t play kick ball or tag for a full game. Now that my girls are in school I have more time to actually focus on becoming healthy for myself and them. Since I read your story, you and the fact that my entire family suffers from diabetes has become my inspiration. Last week I started walking 3 miles a day before work. Next week I will start with dieting. I look back at when I was in high school (not to long ago for me) and realize how fit and healthy I actually was. I was that athlete, I played volleyball and competitive cheer. Looking at those old photos tells me I CAN DO IT! I just want to say thanks for putting your story out there, you encourage more people than you think. I’m excited to continue reading your story.

  13. I just came across your blog, you are a true inspiration. Thank you! after your read i am motivated to start getting my fitness on track. Just wanted to say thank you 🙂

  14. Wow! Im 15 yes i know it might seem young. Im a size 14-16 , i want to be thin , i want to have a nice figure i truly feel empowered and may i say that after reading your story i feel like just getting up playing a video from insanity and getting on with it. thanks alot for telling us i will soon get back to you when ive done and tell you the results

  15. You are amazingly beautiful! Thank you for your blog. I’m on my way to loosing 100lbs and am slowly getting there. May God bless you and your family. Lots of love, Caroline.

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