I didn't know much about her, but from what I did know, it seemed we had quite a bit in common. After she committed to our Ragnar team, I learned she was going to be running the Chicago Marathon; so naturally, I suggested we meet up!
|Caitlin and I at the Chicago Marathon expo|
In August 2009, I weighed close to 400 lbs. Not many people in my life know just how heavy I was; looking at me, they could tell I was big, but I never let anyone know the exact number. Even now I really don't want to write it: 383 pounds!
For as long as I can remember I had been overweight. I remember feeling self conscious about it starting in 4th grade. I played sports when I was younger, so even though I was heavy, I was not obese. I stopped playing sports in middle school when some of my friends told me that I ran "funny", and would never be able to make the cut for the high school sports teams. So I went from being somewhat active to pretty much totally sedentary, other then the dreaded gym classes at school.
There was no medical reason for my weight; I just ate too much, and didn't move enough. I have always enjoyed cooking, especially baking, and loved to eat the fruit of my labor. In high school I went on my first diet--a self created one of far too few calories and way too much exercise. I dropped over 30 pounds but quickly gained it back as I was miserable and hungry all the time.
Throughout high school, I tried different diets and had a gym membership I used sporadically, but I continued to gain weight. When I graduated high school I was a size 22/24. I couldn't tell you what I weighed, because I refused to get on a scale.
I went to my college orientation and remember being so embarrassed about my size. I have always been shy and more of an introvert, so I had trouble meeting new people, and my weight made it even worse. I overheard one of my roommates saying something about how she knew she would be stuck with the "fat, pathetic girl". I decided not to attend that college and took a year off.
In that year of staying home, while all my friends from high school were away at college, I gained even more weight. I didn't know what to do with myself outside of a part-time desk job. I attended a college closer to home, so I could commute and avoid a lot of the social situations that made me so uncomfortable.
There was no big "Ah-ha" moment for me, and no health crisis, but in August 2009, I decided I had to change my life; otherwise, I would never change. I changed my diet, but rather than a radical overhaul, I decided to make gradual changes. I set my daily calorie limit to 1400 and stuck to it. I totally eliminated soda--I had been drinking 4+ cups a day. I did not want people to see me exercising so I bought the Biggest Loser DVDs, and would walk in a cemetery near my home. I knew working out at the gym did not work for me.
Over the first five months, I lost over 60 pounds and had worked my way up to walking 8 miles every single day. I wanted to incorporate more vegetables into my diet; I ate a salad every night at dinner and had lettuce and onions on my sandwich for lunch, but thought I could include more. I starting cooking (and still do) things like Quinoa Zucchini Casserole, Farro with ground turkey and vegetables or homemade chicken vegetable soup with healthy grains like wheat berries, brown rice and farro rather than pasta.
I came up with a rotation of healthy meals that I loved--I cook a big batch, divide it into servings, and have my meal ready all week long. Throughout 2010 I continued my daily walking, DVDs, and added weight lifting routines I had found in various fitness magazines. I also started to incorporate brief bursts of running in my walking--making sure the no one was around when I did, because the comments from my friends still echoed in my head.
I fell in love with P90x, and although it was the hardest thing I had ever done I stuck with it. By December 2010, I had hit what was my goal of 155 pounds; but I was still miserable, because I had loose skin on my arms, stomach, chest, and legs. I felt like a giant deflated balloon. I refused to wear t-shirts or shorts because I was so embarrassed of the excess skin.
I also still could not see myself as a "normal weight" person; with all the skin hanging off my body, I still felt huge. I looked into skin removal surgery, but it was expensive, and I was nervous about having surgery.
I continued running. My older brother convinced me to enter a 5K, and I finished in just under 30 minutes and fell in love with racing. In September 2011, I ran my first half-marathon, and loved it! I decided to try again in November 2011, and after learning more about half-marathon running, managed to shave 16 minutes off my time.
In late 2011, after maintaining my weight loss for almost a year, I met with a surgeon, and scheduled my surgery for January 2012. I had the surgery (the doctor removed 12 pounds of skin from my body!!!) and after a long recovery, resumed my running in April of 2012. I ran two more half marathons that year, and entered a lottery for a full marathon, figuring if I was selected, then it was "meant to be".
I was selected, and ran my first marathon in October of 2012. After completing the marathon, I wrote Katie to tell her how inspirational I found her. I had originally found her blog when researching skin removal surgery, and continued reading. I was following her marathon training while training for mine.
I am so glad I sent that email, because she invited me to join the Ragnar SoCal team--getting to know 11 new amazing people! I love to enter and run races. I ran my second marathon in Chicago last month, and have done mud runs, half-marathons and 10Ks. I am trying to get up the nerve to do a Tough Mudder but jumping into dumpsters of ice water and possibly being shocked by live wires has deterred me so far!
I have maintained my weight of 145 lbs since recovering from surgery - maintenance isn't always easy, but if my weight goes up by more than 2 pounds I look at what I have been doing and adjust so I do not continue to gain. I taught myself healthy habits throughout my weight loss journey, and continue with them today. Running and P90X have given me much more confidence; joining a team of strangers to run 200 miles is something I could not imagine doing even two years ago!