Kia drops 60lbs, learns to love the camera
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After gaining 60+ pounds during pregnancy, Kia, 34, was having trouble taking the weight back off.
Embarrassed and not sure where to turn, she signed up for Lean Eating four months after her son was born.
In the beginning, she refused to let her husband take her “before” photos, worried that he was just as disgusted with her body as she was.
But after following Lean Eating for a year and losing 61 pounds, Kia turned in her baggy worn-out clothes for cute, form-fitting outfits and didn’t mind getting her picture taken.
Now she runs marathons and competes in awe-inspiring races and competitions, all while balancing a family and a full-time career.
“I saw the fat girl in the pictures and was motivated to work hard,” she says. “All I needed was the right coaching program. I’m finally the fit, healthy person I’ve always wanted to be. ”
Kia Taylor is in the hallway, alone, wearing a lavender sports bra and black shorts — the kind with the drawstring that can tighten or loosen as needed — setting up a tripod for her camera, and fussing with the light switches.
The rest of the house is empty. Her husband took their four-month old son to run errands, so this is the first opportunity she’s had in over a week to take these photos. She needs to do it quick, before he gets back. She can’t let him see her like this. She’s embarrassed by what he may think. He’s a good man, supportive and reassuring, but she’s just not ready.
Despite sitting at 200 pounds and sharing a bed with the man she loves, Kia has gotten really good at hiding.
At night, she closes the curtains and turns the bedroom lights off, blackening the room before he walks in. She gets in bed quickly, hides underneath the covers. In the morning she’s the first one up, in the shower and dressed before his eyes open. Lately, she’s been hiding in her clothes too, wears big dresses, baggy t-shirts, and cotton pants. Everything on her that bounces or jiggles is restrained by tight elastic bands that leave deep impressions in her skin. She wears a lot of black and avoids horizontal stripes.
But she can’t hide from the camera. Right now, standing in this hallway, she’s out in the open.
Satisfied with the lights, she shuffles in front of the camera, takes a deep breath, and smiles.
The camera clicks, the flash flashes.
She turns to her right. Click. Flash.
She turns again, facing away. Click. Flash.
She walks around the camera to look at the playback. When the images appear on the little screen, she starts to tear up.
Who is that person? she thinks. And why on earth is she smiling?
Kia is in the doctor’s office sitting on flimsy paper, the loud, crinkly kind that covers every bench in every doctor’s office.
She has 8 weeks left in her pregnancy. The nurse walks in, smiles, and clucks her tongue. “You are the biggest pregnant lady I’ve ever seen,” she says. Some people’s manners. Sheesh.
Before she got pregnant, Kia was a comfortable 135 pounds. Although she was never the “skinny girl” she was muscular and athletic. She’d lost 25 pounds a few years back by counting calories and following workout videos, and she felt happy with the way her body looked.
She worked out at a local Crossfit gym and ran a few times per week, sometimes competing in weekend 5Ks and half marathons. She watched what she ate, more or less. She even had the Precision Nutrition system binder.
But things changed when she got pregnant. People told her she’d have to start eating for two. So she did. Then she ate some more. Things she wouldn’t normally grab — Burger King, birthday cake — suddenly became fair game.
While most women gain one or two pounds during their first trimester, Kia gained 15.
“I went completely off the rails and ate like a crazy person,” she says.
As the months went on, the baby got bigger, and so did she. When little baby Lewis was born in September of 2009, Kia weighed over 215 pounds. Not only had she gained weight, she now carried embarrassment with her.
“My first thoughts were, ‘How did I let it get this bad?’” she says.
Being fat, Kia discovered, flat-out sucked.
“It sucks to feel large and slow when you used to feeling strong,” she wrote in her blog shortly after her baby had been born. “It sucks to wonder what your husband thinks and if he’s as disgusted as you are. It sucks to feel like one person inside, but see a totally different reality reflected in the mirror.”
True, Kia’s pregnancy produced the greatest gift she’d ever received. But when he came out and took his first breath, Kia was left with over 80 pounds of extra baggage.
She tried to get back in shape by counting calories and even lost 15 pounds directly after the pregnancy. Then she hit a wall. The rest of the weight just wouldn’t come off, no matter what she tried.
And that’s when the decision was made. Kia signed up for Lean Eating in January, the beginning of a new year and — hopefully — a new body.
“What the heck are you eating? I’m not sure if you heard, but you’re supposed to eat dinner in the evening.”
It’s 9:30 AM and Kia’s in the break room at her office, eating broccoli, chicken, and couscous.
Her co-worker looks perplexed.
Kia laughs and explains that since she started working out early in the morning, she likes having “dinner food” for breakfast. Besides, she says, food is food. It doesn’t matter when you eat it. And in the past 6 months, eating like this has helped her drop 36 pounds.
Her co-worker doesn’t look convinced. “So, how early do you work out?” she asks.
Kia tells her how she gets up at 5AM — her “no excuses” time — so she can work out, come home, shower, dress, fix breakfast for her family, and drop her son off at daycare all before she goes to work.
“5AM? Are you crazy?”
This isn’t the first time Kia has heard this since she started Lean Eating. She already has a canned response.
“Well, I want to spend time with my family,” she says. “And I can’t do that in the afternoon or evening if I’m working out. Besides, it’s something for me. I have so many roles as a wife and mother that I need that time. It’s valuable. Plus it feels great.”
Her co-worker nods, says, “Well, I don’t think I could ever do that”, and walks out of the room.
Sitting there by herself, eating her chicken and couscous, Kia wonders why her friends seem to think they have to dedicate their lives to losing weight.
Just the other day, in this very same break room, she overheard a couple co-workers talking about the Biggest Loser TV show. They were saying how awesome it would be to lose that much weight, but how they didn’t have the time for it.
“Why not?” Kia asked them.
“Because we don’t have 8 hours a day to work out,” one of them said. “And we don’t want to eat like birds.”
That’s it, she thought. That’s what’s holding most people back. No one ever told them that getting in shape is simple. That you only need a few hours per week to build a great body. That by getting the right kind of help and following simple yet powerful habits, anyone can lose weight, get healthy, and feel better.
Kia wonders how many more people think like her co-workers.
It must be millions.
In the Tough Mudder, an event designed by British Special Forces, Kia jumped off a 15-foot cliff into deep water before swimming across a lake. In the Warrior Dash, after running through a 3-mile obstacle course, she hurdled a channel of fire.
Both events — which took place in the middle of her Lean Eating journey — were one-time experiences to push herself out of her comfort zone. But aside from the rush of adrenaline, they didn’t do much else for her.
No, the real challenges — and the real rewards — she found in running. In some ways, she thinks, you can compare running to the body transformation process.
Sometimes you can’t wait to put on your shoes and head out the door. Those times, running seems almost effortless, like it was something you were made for. The same goes for eating healthy food and going to the gym a few times per week. Some days it’s easy.
Other times, it’s the last thing you want to do. You run two miles instead of the three you planned. You skip the gym. You walk instead of run. You eat a microwaveable bean burrito instead of a salad.
But Kia’s learned that you must keep going, no matter what you feel like. Stride after stride, you learn about yourself. And as long as you keep the pace steady — as long as you stay consistent, learn to take the good days with the bad, choose the salad more times than you choose the burrito — well, you always arrive exactly where you want to be.
“There were lots of times where I wanted to give up in Lean Eating,” she says. “Sometimes the weight wouldn’t come off, or I’d want to skip workouts or eat bad food.”
In those times, she tried to stay patient with herself, realizing she didn’t have to be perfect all the time to lose weight. Kia learned that if she just picked up and kept going when things got rough, if she focused on small victories every day, she’d make it out a winner in the end.
Imagine looking at a brand new roll of paper towels sitting on your kitchen counter.
Now imagine someone coming by and tearing one sheet off. The roll doesn’t look any smaller, does it? Even if a few more sheets are torn off, there’s still not a big visual difference. But what happens when 60 sheets have been torn from the roll of paper towels? What does it look like then?
Kia knows. At the beginning of her Lean Eating journey, she barely noticed the physical changes. Sure, she felt better. But she wasn’t sure if the process was working. Then, sheet by sheet, pound by pound, she unveiled her new body.
After one year in Lean Eating, she lost 61 pounds.
Her baggy, worn-out workout clothes have been replaced with cute, form-fitting Lululemon outfits, and she’s running faster than ever, even beating her pre-pregnancy 5K time. She can do four strict chin-ups without any assistance, something she couldn’t even think of doing a year earlier.
But the best part? Her reflection in the mirror body finally matches what she feels inside: Powerful. Sexy. Strong.
With so many months spent hiding, Kia isn’t shy in front of the camera anymore.
Her favorite photos are the ones that show her in action. Running through the woods. Lifting at a Crossfit competition. Those are things fit people do, and Kia has proof that she’s capable of moving her body any way she wants.
The other day she took Lewis — now more than a year old — to the park. Just as the sun crept behind a few clouds, Kia climbed to the top of the biggest slide, carried Lewis carefully with one arm, her tank-top showing off her defined shoulders.
They rested at the top for a minute, took in the view of the entire park, watched the rest of the children playing down below. That’s when the sun broke from the clouds, came out from its cover and shined brightly.
Kia closed her eyes and felt it on her face. She smiled, knowing that while the past year had a lot of uphill climbs, she had finally gotten to the point where she could enjoy the ride.
With her son in her arms she slid down to the sand below where her husband stood, holding a camera to his face, capturing the moment forever.
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