Katie Marie was a sweet, 21-year-old girl in 2008 when she entered my life. I was eight-and-a-half months pregnant with my last child, and was interviewing nannies to help me juggle the load of a rambunctious 3-year-old, a new baby on the way, and a then-husband that traveled four days a week. When Katie walked in the door, the light in her soul shined bright through her beautiful eyes and ear-to-ear smile. I connected with her instantly, and she joined our family about a week later.
Katie and I spent almost every day together, 12 hours a day, for two years. What started as an employer-employee relationship evolved in to two people that had a deep appreciation and respect for each other. Don’t get me wrong, we had growing pains in the beginning. We struggled. Katie was young and inexperienced in life – I am rigid, organized and very detailed about how I like things in my home and with my children. But we managed to find a balance. We got to know each other and learned who the other person was. We let our guards down. She helped me raise my children when my husband decided that he wanted to end our marriage (quite honesty, she’d been doing that all along). She stood in the kitchen and laughed with me when the girls were crazy and silly. And she is the person that shared with me the last frantic minutes of my father’s life after he collapsed in my living room of a heart attack. She was there. She protected my children from the chaos of paramedics and police, cleaned up the mess left behind in their wake, and stayed with my babies until I could return. We are forever bonded together by time, experiences, laughter, grief, and two little girls that we adore.
What we never shared was her struggles with her weight. Katie was overweight. There was no sugar-coating it. Her weight affected everything she did, including how active she was able to be with my girls. I was concerned for her, but I didn’t know where to start. I was afraid of hurting or embarrassing her.
Two years ago, Katie took stock of her life and recognized that she needed to make a change. This is her story. These are her words:
“My name is Katie, I’m 25 almost 26, and I’ve been over 200 pounds since 6th grade. I still remember the day I saw that scale. The summer before 6th grade, a mom of one of my friends at school reached out to me to try to help me lose weight. She herself had been through the same thing growing up, and she wanted to help me as much as she could. I stepped on the scale and saw that at the age of 12, I was 200 pounds. That definitely does something to a growing 12-year-old girl. Needless to say, with the combination of my parent’s divorce, losing our home, and just being immensely unhappy, it only went down hill from there.
My uncle, who I considered my second father, had his ups and downs with obesity as well. He was an avid swimmer and hockey player growing up, and somewhere in his late 20′s/early 30′s, lost control and got up to almost 500 pounds. As a kid, he’d try to bribe me to get healthy. He would offer to give me money or pay for my cell phone bill if I would call him after every work out that I did. He used to say to me “God Kate, when you get that body, you’re gonna be beatin’ the boys away with a stick”. Towards the end of my uncle’s life, he was doing so well losing weight and getting healthy, but his heart couldn’t handle all of his greatness and it failed on him. He was only 49. I’ve lost multiple people in my family because of obesity and diabetes, and I refuse to be one of them.
Thankfully, I was never HORRIBLY bullied in school. Sure, there were some kids that would make crude remarks about my weight and would poke fun, but despite those few kids, I was actually considered well-known in school. I always had a group of friends, and a family that supported me no matter what, which I was always grateful for. But I was known as the “funny/sweet girl”. The girl who boys would come up to, to simply ask my opinion on how to ask out one of my other friends, the girl who always had guy friends but only because they never found me the least bit attractive. I was the token fat girl, and because I never knew how to change it and was just simply too lazy, it just got worse. I almost didn’t graduate high school on time because of GYM CLASS. My senior year I was taking THREE gym classes just to graduate high school! Gym class was my arch nemesis, and had a few teachers that were not kind to me at all because of my weight.
I went through high school and college continuing to be the “funny/sweet” fat girl, Through out those years, I went on “health kicks”, which I would exercise more (which consisted of me going on an elliptical for 20 minutes and be done) and would eat better (if getting a single cheeseburger instead of a double is considered better), and because I wasn’t seeing results fast enough, would quit and resume back to my double cheeseburger and large fries. I was also a binge eater. I would go ALL day without eating a thing, then would PIG out at dinner, and eat until I fell asleep.
Two years ago, I was nannying for a family, and had known that I had officially hit an all time high with my weight. My size 26 jeans BARELY fit me and I was squeezing into clothes that I had no right to ever wear at that weight. In December of 2010, I weighed myself for the first time in a long time, and saw that my weight was 317 pounds. I couldn’t believe I let myself get that horrible. I’d see people on TV shows or walking down the street and would say “If I ever get that bad, please let me know!” Obviously because they loved me, no one ever did. That was when I decided to officially make a CHANGE.
My sister and I started working out more regularly, taking it more serious and definitely exceeding my 20 minute mark on the elliptical’s. And because my head wasn’t seeing results as fast as I wanted them, I took a step back, but my sister kept on fighting. She lost 75 POUNDS, and I’m not going to lie, I was IMMENSELY jealous. She was fitting into clothes that I still dreamt about, getting down to a size 14 in jeans, was teetering towards only being 200 pounds. She’s always been beautiful, but to see her at her happiest and to see her exceeding her own goals, is what motivated me the most to know that I could do it too.
After seeing my weight at 317, I avoided a scale for another year, but when I decided to switch gyms and get a trainer, I saw something that I was finally proud to see. In March of 2012, I was at 273 pounds. I was ECSTATIC to see that I was under 300, and couldn’t wait to see it go down even farther. A light switch went on in March that never has before, and I’m so glad that it did. I’ve never had this kind of determination and motivation for myself, and I honestly couldn’t be happier. I completely changed my eating habits, and started working out 6 days a week. Today I am at 197, having lost a total of 120lbs, and I can’t help but be ridiculously happy with what I’ve accomplished so far. I run. ME, I RUN. And I just signed up for my first 5k ever! I can lift things that I never though possible before, and feel mentally better than I ever have before in my life. I still struggle with food and still have temptations to cheat and binge eat, but I KNOW that I’m going to be fine, and that I’m going to get down to my goal, because honestly I just can’t turn back now.
I want EVERYONE to know, that if I CAN DO IT, there is NO DOUBT that you can as well. You need to make the decision to change, you need to make the decision to live, because I know now the last 15 years of my life I was not LIVING at all, I was simply existing trying to make it day by day. It’s gonna be hard, there’s absolutely no doubt about that. But once you see the SLIGHTEST difference in a pair of jeans, a collar-bone that you’ve never been able to see before, or any little difference within yourself, you’ll know that it’s worth it. I promise you."
There aren’t enough words to adequately express how proud I am of Katie and what she has accomplished. This incredible woman has changed her life one workout at a time, one healthy meal at a time. No fad diets, no miracle weight loss schemes. Hard work and determination have gotten her to where she is. The light I saw in her that first day shines even brighter now; her smile is wider and her eyes glimmer with the knowledge that she CAN truly accomplish anything that she puts her mind to. I am honored to have her in my and my daughters lives.
Katie and her sister, Kristin, have formed Team ONEderland and are participating in the 8th Annual Chicago Cubs Race to Wrigley on May 11, 2013. All of the proceeds for this race goes to Lurie Children’s Hospital. If they are able to raise $1,000 each, they will get to run the bases at Wrigley Field!
I’ve made it my personal challenge to help these two amazing women BOTH run those bases. Will you help me and Lurie Children’s Hospital?? To donate to team ONEderland, go to: http://www.race-cubs.com/racetowrigley2013/teamonederland
For more information on the actual race itself, go to:http://www.race-cubs.com/