Saturday, November 9, 2013

A guest post from Caitlin, who lost over 200 pounds!

Last month, when I ran the Chicago Marathon, I was lucky enough to meet up with someone I had "met" online, through this blog. Her name is Caitlin, and she'd e-mailed me a little over a year ago, after completing her first marathon. She mentioned that she'd lost "well over 100 pounds", and became a runner. She showed interest in running a Ragnar, and when John and I put together a Ragnar SoCal team recently, I invited her to join.

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
 It's very rare for me to feel comfortable around a total stranger; usually, I feel like an awkward mess. But as soon as I met Caitlin, I immediately liked her; she is extremely sweet, generous, and humble. As I learned more about her, I grew nothing short of amazed by her story. The "well over 100 pounds" that she lost? That would actually be 238 pounds!! She was very nervous to go public with her story, so I'm excited that she agreed to step way out of her comfort zone to share this with you. Enjoy, and feel free to leave her a kind comment if you'd like :)


 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.

I knew I was eating too much and I knew I was far larger than most people (including my four brothers!).  Other members of my family struggled with their weight, but I was, by far, the largest.  I tried different diets; would join, then quit, the gym; and remained miserable.  I was in my 20s and supposed to be out living my life but instead I was hiding from everyone I knew. I wouldn't even attend most family events because I was so ashamed of myself.

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 running, and kept increasing the distance until I had run a full mile.  Once I hit 170 pounds, I plateaued; I could not get my weight to go down. I was running a couple miles at a time, and working up to more, but my weight would not budge.  My brother suggested I try P90X, and while I did not think I would be able to keep up with it, I committed to the 90 day routine.

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!


54 comments:

  1. Congratulations Caitlin! I think your weight loss and maintenance is amazing. Keep up the good work! I have a friend who ran a Tough Mudder - he got shocked by one of the wires, but said the others didn't shock because they had to recharge. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow Caitlin, you have an inspiring story!!! Thanks so much for sharing. You have no idea how your story has touched me and I'm sure many others!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Very inspirational! Thank you so much for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You are both an inspiration to all of us who are on our own journeys. Thank you for sharing your story.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Amazing!! You are awesome! Thanks for sharing your story!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Inspiring Caitlin! Thank you for sharing

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you for being willing to step outside your box and share your story. Your journey has changed your life hugely. Thru sharing that story you will no doubt encourage others to start their journey. Congratulations on all you have accomplished! Run on!

    ReplyDelete
  8. "Congratulations" just doesn't seem like a strong enough word, Caitlin. I read this entire post in awe. You are beautiful, poised, and humble...what an amazing inspiration you are! I am sure it took a lot of courage for you to share your story, but I'm glad you did! :)

    -Kara
    twotonteacher.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. Amazing story! Just amazing. I just kept saying "Wow!" the whole time I read it. I think you need to share this story more. It shows people it can be done even if they don't think it can.

    ReplyDelete
  10. You are a total inspiration! Thank you for sharing your story and being so open about it!! I loved meeting you in Chicago & look forward to getting to know you more!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks so much for sharing your "secret" to success. You have worked hard and I am so happy for you. By the way, you and Katie look like you could be sisters!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I am in AWE! Thank you so much for sharing your story. YOU are an amazing woman!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Congratulations Caitlin, your story is so inspiring! I love the details you've shared, especially around changing your diet and cooking healthy meals in batches, It's something I'm going to try!

    ReplyDelete
  14. An amazing story from an amazing person. I am so humbled and excited to be your Ragnar teammate in April. Your hard work is so inspirational. Looking forward to meeting you in person ... and whatever other shenanigans we are in for :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Caitlin, thank you so much for sharing! When I'm having a tough day and struggling to stay on track, it helps so much to read stories like yours and Katie's. You ladies are so amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Amazing story Caitlin. Thank you for sharing it ! You are very inspiring.

    ReplyDelete
  17. wow Caitlin, what an inspiration. I'm not a runner but I am on a weight loss journey with about 80lbs down and another 40lbs to go. It's amazing to see the transformation, I have so much admiration for you for doing it on your own and for sticking with it. Ladies like you and Katie who are generous enough to share your experiences help others like me so much, so thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Congratulations!! i have 80 to 90 pounds to lose. was very motivational for me. i don't like to workout at the gym either! You are very pretty! great job again. :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thank you for sharing! You are such an inspiration and had me all teary-eyed for a minute!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Amazing. Congratulations on your success and determination and finding your passion for running. So amazing.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Caitlin! Congrats! Commenting because the comment from the college roommate really hit home. I transferred to a school as a sophomore and was in an apt with 3 girls i didnt really know. One day i answered the door to a guy friend of one. As i turn around to leave the room he say to her 'shes not THAT fat'. I wanted to die!
    Cathy from fl

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thank you so much, Caitlin, for sharing your story! You are a wonderful person and a real role model!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Wow! What an amazing transformation you have accomplished! You have every reason to hold your head up high. Absolutely incredible. Thank you for sharing and encouraging so many of us.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Amazing story! So inspiring!

    ReplyDelete
  25. What a great story! You look amazing and have accomplished so much. :) I have lost well over 100 pounds and am in a plateau. It's very frustrating. I got down to 168 earlier this year and to do it I had to decrease my calories and workout twice a day. Over the summer I gained about 10 pounds back, and I haven't lost it, even with half marathon training. Anyway, I liked reading your story. :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Truly awesome and inspirational story! I'm so glad you chose to share it, and I can't wait to hear your story conitinued in the Ragnar!!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Your story made me cry and smile and cry more. You freaking rock, enough said.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Thank you for sharing your story! You are amazing and an inspiration. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  29. WOW!!! You are such an amazing person! Congratulations on all of you accomplishments. You are truly and inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
  30. What a beautiful story, Caitlin! Can't thank you enough for sharing your honest and inspiring story! Keep up the amazing work! We'll be rooting for you!!!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Wow, Caitlin, you are such an inspiration! You look amazing! Thanks SO much for sharing your story!! I wish you the best in your continued journey!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Wow is right!! What an amazing story you have. I'm so glad you decided to share it with us! You proved that anyone can do it if you stick with it. You started slow and ended up a rock star! Woohoo!!!

    ReplyDelete
  33. I am so proud of you! I thought taking 40 pounds off was hard! I thought running 11 miles this morning was hard! You are a rock star. Please don't ever forget that. Job well done.

    ReplyDelete
  34. INCREDIBLE ! she's stunning! this was just what i needed! i've lost 50 pounds and got stuck, not great when you have 100 to go! amazing story!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Wow, Caitlin, thank you for sharing your story. DETERMINATION, amazing determination! So fun that you and Katie started your journey the same month, same year, faced surgery around the same time, and now will be running buddies and friends who truly understand each other. Your stories encourage and inspire many of us deeply! Maybe Katie could guest post a few of your favorite week-batch go to recipes of foods you loved that you made up in advance for a week of meals. a little "Caitlin series" in the recipes section :)

    ReplyDelete
  36. What an inspiring story! Caitlin, you are amazing. Thank you for telling your story.

    ReplyDelete
  37. What a beautiful story Caitlin. I can relate to a lot of it and it had me in tears and smiles as well. Congratulations on all your hard work paying off. You are truly inspiring.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Way to GOOOOO Caitlin!!! You are a doll and such an inspiration to everyone. Your story is amazing. Thank you for sharing it. I hope those "friends" who told you that you "run funny" are not friends any longer :) You go GIRL.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Crazy Cool !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  40. You're amazing!! Loved reading this, such an inspiration!

    ReplyDelete
  41. I'm glad you shared your story. You are proof that it can be done. I have some family members who are very overweight (one almost the same weight you started at) and they talk about losing the weight all the time but they just don't think they can do it so they give up. I wish they could read your story.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Thank you for sharing your story, Caitlin. May everyday bring you continued goodness!

    ReplyDelete
  43. So inspirational! Good for you. Sounds like you did it the right way and are enjoying the benefits!

    ReplyDelete
  44. Spectacular story.
    great job

    ReplyDelete
  45. What a great success story!! Thank you so much for sharing - glad to 'meet' you through Katie's blog :)

    ReplyDelete
  46. Amazing story Caitlyn! Sorry to hear about the crappy roommate, some people aren't worth listening to, and she was definitely one of those. Glad to see you persevered and succeeded!

    ReplyDelete
  47. WOW! With just 70 lbs to lose I feel so overwhelmed most of the times and I read your story and think wow! she lost over 200 lbs! You are an inspiration !

    ReplyDelete
  48. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Very Awesome! You will never know, just like Katie, how much you touch other's lives! - Tammy

    ReplyDelete
  49. Thank you, Caitlin, for sharing your story. It was a powerful wake up call to me to not give up even though the end goal seems unreachable.

    ReplyDelete
  50. WOW! Thank you for sharing your story, it's such an inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Thanks for sharing Caitlin! It always helps to have more people telling their stories so we don't feel so alone tackling major weight loss! - Jess

    ReplyDelete
  52. Wow ! Thanks for sharing. Incredible!

    ReplyDelete

I'd love to hear from you! I read all of my comments, and if you have a question, I do my best to respond; sometimes, however, I get busy and forget to go back to reply, so if it's important, just email me! :)