I had been overweight for most of my life. I was bullied all throughout school and missed out on many of life’s milestones. When I finished Grad School, I had hit my maximum weight of around 285 lbs. I was severely depressed and anxious and knew I needed a change.
At First, I Lost 90 Pounds with a Starvation Diet
Being overweight my entire life, I was always looking at weight loss and diet products. I remember watching infomercials when I was a kid thinking, if only I could buy this product or this program, I would lose weight.
I remember doing a few diet programs and meetings with my mom. It was so strange being 13 years old and sitting amongst adults being taught the cabbage soup diet or what lean microwave meal was most edible. I thought this was normal. I thought everyone who was at a healthy weight ate like this.
After struggling with an eating disorder, my parents at the advice of my doctor had me join a very popular and expensive weight loss program. The first few days on this program were “reset” days, and I honestly thought I wasn’t going to make it. I was 16 years old and the only thing I was allowed to eat for three days was a juice cleanse, “snacks” that reminded me of Necco wafers, 2 oz. of low-fat cheese, and a small number of egg beaters. It was hell.
After that, my life consisted of three small meals, special meal bars, and weigh-ins every three days. I remember having such bad anxiety on my weigh-in days. I felt scolded when I didn’t lose weight or fill out my food journal. This was a lot as a teen. Each time I didn’t lose weight they would lower my calories and this was how life went for three years. Yes, I lost 90 lbs, but what came next was horrible.
Then, I Regained My Weight Plus Another 40-50 Pounds
I was in my freshman year of college, trying my best to follow this meal plan. I felt as though I couldn’t be like my friends and roommates. I couldn’t enjoy the pizza night, and eating at the dining hall seemed impossible. I didn’t know what foods were safe to pick. One day while leaving my class, I passed out in the hallway.
After lots of tests, I was sent to an on-campus dietitian. After looking at my food journal, she said she was shocked I could even get out of bed because I was only eating 500 calories a day. Let me remind you, I was following a diet plan I was prescribed by this highly successful weight loss company.
I threw away the diet plan. I had no clue how to eat or what to eat, no one had ever taught me the importance of exercise, and I was so restricted in enjoying life that I went off the rails.
I gained all 90 lbs I had lost plus another 40-50 lbs. I was worse off from where I started and extremely depressed and anxious.
My anxiety got so bad that it was hard for me to leave the house. I would go to work, come home, sit on the couch, and watch TV. I was barely eating, but what I was eating wasn’t healthy. I felt like a failure. There was a moment in my life where I sat there saying, you need to give yourself one more chance. One more chance where you truly try and step out of your comfort zone, and that is where it all changed.
I Lost 120 Pounds After Doing MMA for 3 Years
The universe answered in a way I never would have imagined. My background is in School Counseling and a local MMA gym was looking to develop an anti-bullying program to take to schools. Someone gave them my name, and when I went in to discuss this with them, the owner told me he wanted me to take classes. I immediately said no, feeling the anxiety rush through me. When I got in the car, something told me this was my chance. I started classes the next week.
This school taught MMA like you would teach any martial art. It was adaptable and open to any person or ability level. Everyone was so welcoming and helpful, but I was still a nervous wreck. I would be able to get through 30 seconds of a 2-minute drill. This is where I started to set small goals to push myself, and before I knew it, I was making it through the entire drill.
I did not focus on my diet at the start. Actually, this was the first time I never focused on weight loss. My focus was on pushing myself out of my comfort zone and living life. It wasn’t until people pointed out that I was losing weight that I even started to keep track. I did start to look at my diet from a performance perspective. I couldn’t work out the way I wanted to if I was eating junk.
After three years, I had lost 120 lbs and decided to compete. It took a lot of hard work and dedication but I now have 3 kickboxing and 3 MMA fights under my belt. After 10 years of MMA, I decided to hang up my gloves and start the next adventure.
I Continued My Journey into Bodybuilding
My journey into bodybuilding came from a newfound love of lifting weights. I never lifted weights and thought it was something only buff guys do. I realized how awesome it was seeing progress and getting strong each day. I learned quickly that I am someone who always needs to have a goal they are working towards, so I hired a coach and set my date for my first competition.
Bodybuilding was where I finally learned about actual nutrition and how to fuel my body properly. Let me tell you, it was terrifying when I learned how much food I actually had to eat. When I saw the results, my view on food changed forever. I did two bodybuilding competitions and was ready for the next thing.
I Tried Trail Running and Joined CrossFit
I have always loved being outdoors and hiking, so I tried trail running. I hate running but loved trail running. I did numerous races and was training for an ultra when Covid hit. Unfortunately, my 40-mile Ultra was canceled, but I did hit Ultra Run status with a 33-mile training run. The downside of this was losing muscle and strength I had built up from lifting.
When gyms began to open back up, I knew I wanted to get back to the weights, but had no motivation to do the same boring routine on my own when I did bodybuilding. After swearing I would never do CrossFit, I joined a CrossFit gym and found a new love.
CrossFit has allowed me to push myself mentally and physically. It is such a great combination of weight lifting, cardio, and pushing yourself. What is even better is I found another great family of positive people who support me along my goals. I have learned having a support system has been key in my success.
What Is My Diet Like?
I eat so much! Seriously. I notice that I gain weight when I am not eating enough, and lose weight when I eat like crazy. Yes, it is all clean foods and lots of proteins, carbs, and fats, but I have learned to love food. I love when I feel fueled and ready for a workout.
One big change I made was being mindful of how I felt after each meal. When I would go out to eat and pick a greasy burger, I noticed I felt awful within hours and into the next day. This made picking healthy food much easier.
What Is My Training Routine Like?
When I did MMA and bodybuilding, my training was crazy. When I decided to compete in MMA, I would be in the gym 4-5 hours a night, 6 days a week. My body broke down and I was injury-prone. Bodybuilding helped me find a bit more of a balance and I would spend around 2 hours in the gym. Closer to competition, it was an hour in the morning and two hours at night.
Now, I have really found a balance that helps my body heal and allows me to have a life. I spend about an hour a day at CrossFit, sometimes I have an extra personal training session, and then I make sure to get outside and walk the dog, or just move a little more at night. I love being active and it truly helps me in all areas of my life.
The Toughest Part of My Fitness Journey
The hardest lesson that I think so many people who have transformed their life don’t talk about is that it changes everything. I developed confidence and a love for myself. This ended many relationships, friendships, etc., and changed my entire outlook on life. I am so grateful for everything and these changes, but it was difficult going through them.
My One Piece of Advice
If I could give any piece of advice for someone wanting to make their own transformation, it would be to take the first step, no matter how small it is. Face your fear and do it. There is nothing but greatness on the other side.
Finally, do things in small steps! Do not try to change everything all at once. You will get overwhelmed if you try to adopt a new workout plan, a massive diet change, and a lifestyle change. Pick one and go with it until it becomes a habit. Then change the next thing.
About the Author
Kate Warren is an adventure enthusiast and freelance writer who has made it her mission to help others achieve their goals. After losing 120lbs and completely transforming her life she became a health and wellness coach.