Katey loses 100lbs, rediscovers herself
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Katey had tried everything to lose weight, but all the books, diets, and injections only led to a lighter wallet — to the tune of $20,000 spent on weight-loss information and programs.
It seemed like a hopeless situation, that she was going to be fat and miserable forever. But when she signed up for Lean Eating, something felt different. Something felt right.
A year later, after losing over 100 pounds and winning the $10,000 Grand Prize, Katey unveiled the body she always dreamed of having.
Her friends, the moms at her daughter’s school, even her doctor couldn’t believe the extent of her transformation. You must have had surgery, they said. You must have done a crazy diet.
Nope, she replied. I practiced healthy habits. And I believed in myself.
“But the most important thing is I didn’t wait for things to change,” she says. “I decided to make it happen. And Lean Eating was my answer.”
Katey Caswell hated sitting.
Her 55-inch hips didn’t fit in regular chairs, making her look like a giant trying to sit in a child’s seat. Her butt hung over the edges of folding chairs, auditorium chairs, restaurant chairs, so many stupid chairs that she skipped them when she could, preferring to stand.
But there were times when she had to sit down, places where standing up was discouraged. Airplanes were the worst. She’d board her flight and walk down the aisle and see the look of despair in the faces of people already comfortable in their seats, looking at her like, “Oh, please, not here, please do not sit here.”
She’d find her seat, smile, say Excuse me, and sit down, trying to make all 255 pounds of her as small as possible, putting the armrest down, trying to get at least one barrier between her and the person next to her. But her body didn’t like barriers, preferred to go around them, so it’d spill under the armrest and onto the next seat, intruding on the space that wasn’t her own, and she’d feel self-conscious for the entire flight.
And now here we are, her and I, talking about the past year, about how she lost over 100 pounds, and she obviously doesn’t see the humor in this whole sitting thing.
“Why are you smiling?” she asks. “What’s going on?”
I’m smiling because right now Katey is sitting in a high-backed chair in her office, sitting there like she’s in a little cocoon, her feet pulled onto the chair, hugging her legs and resting her chin on her knees, looking like a little girl in a grown-up’s chair.
It’s a complete reversal.
Now she’s laughing. “Well, at least I fit.”
And it’s true. She fits there perfectly. But only for a little while. Because more than sitting, she likes to move her body. It’s something she hasn’t been able to do well in decades.
Katey wasn’t always big. In fact, she was on track to be a model. But when the agency told her she had to lose 8 pounds, dropping from 118 to 110 pounds, she scoffed and started to eat more.
She went into her freshman year of college weighing 118 and came out weighing 140. The rest of her college years were more of the same, a see-saw where she’d gain 20 pounds then lose 20 pounds, her evenings punctuated with frequent stops at the convenience store for nachos.
Life went on. She did well in school, made friends, and graduated. After college she met a great guy and got married. At her wedding she weighed 155 pounds.
A few years went by. She was diagnosed with Graves disease, an autoimmune disorder that leads to an over active thyroid gland, so she dealt with it as best she could, took meds to help control it. She became pregnant — twice — and had to stop the medication each time. “Of course,” she says, “you can’t stay pregnant when you’ve got a thyroid issue like that.” Sadly, she lost both babies.
After seeing an endocrinologist, she had her thyroid ablated, swallowed radioactive iodine that tasted like metal to erode it. A few years later she had two successful pregnancies, gave birth to two beautiful girls a few years apart.
But those hard years took a toll on her body.
Around 2000, after being through hell and back, Katey weighed more than 220 pounds. That’s when she started buying more diet books, started eating pre-packaged microwave meals.
She tried Jenny Craig and protein-sparing medical fasts. She tried Atkins, Zone, and Suzanne Somers. The Biggest Loser. Body for Life. Richard Simmons. She even tried pregnant horse urine injections.
She’d lose 50 pounds in a clip, gain it right back, then open up her wallet and write another check, hoping it would make the fat go away.
“I’ve spent at least $20,000 on fat-loss information in my lifetime,” she says.
Then in early 2010, as she tipped the scales at 255 pounds, her doctor suggested the hCG diet, a controversial diet that involves extreme calorie restriction and expensive injections.
Katey Googled it. It seemed extreme, but people were claiming to lose weight. Still, she saw research that most people who followed extreme calorie restricted diets like hCG gained the weight back immediately after stopping.
She called the office of the clinic but couldn’t get through to anyone who could answer her questions. She started to have doubts.
“I took that as a sign that I shouldn’t do it,” she says.
Instead, she hung up the phone and got back to Google. And that’s when she signed up for an Internet coaching program called Lean Eating.
Things are off to a rocky start.
It’s the first week of Lean Eating. Katey has her water bottle and her workout program, and she’s walking through the gym trying to stay out the way of the fit people. Even though no one is paying attention she knows they’re judging her. It’s obvious she doesn’t belong here, she thinks. This is ridiculous.
She finds a glimmer of hope — a trainer! — and heads over to get some advice on her program. She needs to know how to do the exercises; she watched the videos online before she left for the gym, but she wants to make sure she’s doing everything right. The trainer is standing there, arms bulging out of his shirt sleeves, watching her approach.
Katey shows him the program. He barely glances at it. Instead, he goes into his spiel. “You need to sign up with me,” he says. “I can help you out.”
She explains she already has a program she trusts. All she needs is someone to watch her form.
The trainer doesn’t listen. He starts talking about how much he charges and how often she should see him.
Katey thanks him, turns around, and walks off. But instead of heading to the weight room floor by herself, she goes directly out the front door and gets in her car. She’s had enough. She’s not supposed to lose weight. She doesn’t deserve it.
Every day in Lean Eating there’s a daily lesson to read and a daily habit to do.
If you complete the habit and read the lesson, you click a button and a green check mark appears on your screen. If you don’t complete the habit, a red “X” appears instead.
Katey’s screen is full of red X’s.
Ever since she got home from the gym on that first day, she’s logged in and read the lessons, but she hasn’t acted on any of them. She hasn’t followed a single healthy habit.
And why should she? She’s got over 100 pounds to lose. Thinking about it overwhelms her to the point of inaction.
“I gave up on myself then,” she says. “I was in a sad place and just couldn’t make it work. I wanted to do it so badly but just couldn’t find the will.”
The months go on. January, February, March. 90 days, 90 red X’s.
Then, right at the end of March, there’s one lonely green check mark. Katey highlights part of the lesson and saves it on her computer:
You can’t focus on weight loss – that’s not something you can control. What you CAN control is the PROCESS. Your choices. And enough good ones built up over time will lead you to your goals. Work hard and accomplish the healthy behaviors, let the rest fall into place.
“I went back and read that a half-dozen times,” she says.
“It was such a huge key to … everything. It was something I’d missed before. It was at that moment I stopped focusing on what I wanted to happen and started focusing on the next step.”
That night, Katey set her alarm for early in the morning. She got eight hours of sleep and woke up early. She had a glass of water in the morning, and took her fish oil and multivitamin. She went to the gym by herself and did her exercises.
She had found her rhythm.
“I got lost for a while … but I reassessed some priorities in the last month. I found that making this change should have been on top the whole time and it wasn’t. Now I’m making big efforts to get it done and keep it there.”
- Katey, in a note to her Lean Eating coach
The months are a blur. The pounds are dropping quickly and every day brings more hope.
Get up at 5 am. Make a healthy breakfast and hit the gym. Come back home and fix breakfast for the family. Shower. Look in the mirror and smile. Drive kids to school.
Fire up the grill and cook chicken and lean beef. Eat vegetables. Drink water.
Log into the Lean Eating homepage and read the lesson. Click a button and get a green check mark.
Enjoy dinner with the family. Get to bed early. Sleep like a baby. Do it again.
Go, go, go.
Yes, yes, yes.
It’s December 18th — 9 months after getting that one green check mark — and Katey has reached her goal.
She’s completed the Lean Eating program. Since her first green check mark, her compliance is amazing. And she’s lost 100 pounds along the way.
Her family can’t believe it. They look at photos of her and say, “That’s not really you. You were never that fat.” They’re sweet that way.
Her friends, the moms at her daughter’s school, even her doctor can’t believe it. You must have had surgery, they say. You must have done a crazy diet.
Nope, she replies. I practiced healthy habits. And I believed in myself.
To Katey, the habits she learned in Lean Eating are as much a part of her as her fingers and toes. Making healthy food and exercises decision is no longer a process — it’s natural.
“It feels a lot more like living,” she says. “When I was in the middle of it, losing weight was at the forefront of my mind. Now, everything is a habit.”
The best part is that Katey isn’t worried about going back.
“There won’t be a rebound,” she says. “This is me. This is permanent. I’m not afraid of ever being obese again.”
Katey seems more calm, a trait she attributes to her early morning meditation, something she started halfway through the program to help increase her awareness.
She’s also become an excellent self-coach. The negative talk that once took over her mind — the same talk that made her skip the gym and get back in her car that very first week — has been replaced.
Most telling, perhaps, is this note she wrote to herself toward the end of the program:
“You’ve got this. You have made amazing progress in the last four months. The key is being consistent and continuing to choose to eat cleanly, and move your body. And of course keeping the right mind frame. A positive attitude is mandatory for making any type of positive change.”
But everyone still wants know: what was the real secret to her losing all that weight?
The daily habits and excellent coaching of Lean Eating? Maybe. But even more important was the realization that she was in control. And all she had to do was to take one small step, the next positive step, each day.
Sitting in place doesn’t accomplish anything. Small steps, over time, they really add up.
“You can’t wait till everything is perfect to start living,” she says.
Katey’s waited before. For beautiful babies, for a body she’s proud of, for a good life. But no more, damn it. Katey no longer waits. She goes out and gets what she wants.
Sitting here, with her chin on her knees, her legs wrapped up in her arms, Katey Caswell is getting antsy. It’s time to get up and get moving.
She’s got things to do.
It’s June 8th and Katey’s on the phone with Coach Krista. Katey thinks she’s just catching up with her coach, who’s supposedly calling from Canada. Little does she know, she’s in for the surprise of her life.
(Click the play button to check out the video.)
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