July 24, 2019

A Sobering Weight Gain Photo

Sobering Weight Gain Photos

It's kind of funny--I remember writing a blog post with the same title in May of 2009, shortly after completing the Indy Mini 13.1 mile race (walking) at my heaviest weight of 253 pounds. When I saw the photos from that race, I looked NOTHING like I had imagined. I couldn't believe it was actually me--was I seriously that obese?!

My original "before" weight loss photo

In my mind, I'd thought I "carried my weight well" or just generally looked smaller than I actually weighed. But when I saw those photos from the race, it was like a slap in the face. The reality was quite sobering.

I vowed at that point that I was NOT going to look like the heaviest person in the photos for next year's race. I wasn't going to constantly question if I was the "fattest person in the race" while I was walking. It took a few months for me to get started, but then in August, I finally started losing the weight. And the following May, I was about 165 pounds when I walked the race.

Over the last 10(!!) years, I have seen tons of photos of me--some where I look thinner than I imagined, and some where I look heavier. My mind and body are not at all connected when it comes to how I look. Still, over the past decade, I haven't seen any photos that truly shocked me with the reality... until now.

Yes, my weight has been up--in the 160's for the first time since 2010--and I actually felt okay with that. I stopped thinking my weight was very important, and while I didn't want to gain any more (losing would have been even better), I wasn't upset by it enough to want to count calories or do any sort of "dieting". For the first time EVER, I started to see the bigger picture and worry more about my health than my weight.

Once the weather got hotter (we went from cold to hot without anything in between), I started to feel uncomfortable again. I felt sticky and my clothes (even the new/used ones I bought), felt more restricting. My hands felt puffy like they used to way back when I was obese.

I am still about 85-90 pounds down from my heaviest weight, but I feel like I am that size again. Physically, things are harder now than they have been over the last 10 years. Not enough to sound the alarm, but definitely noticeable and definitely not comfortable.

Recently, one of my cross country kid's mom took a photo while I was talking to the kids at our first practice. When she sent me the photo, I was, once again, shocked with the reality. It's not a flattering photo--I'm wearing a sports bra under a shirt that is now too small, and I still have excess skin on my upper body that hangs over--but even bad angles and/or poses can't skew the reality.

(I REALLY did not want to share this photo, and I cringe at the thought of clicking the "publish" button on this blog post because of it. But, I've always tried to keep it real here, and this photo is simply the reality.)

Current photo of my weight gain

And compared to a cross country photo in 2015, when I was about 140 pounds:

Comparison of 2015 and 2019

I am now at the point where I am not okay with the gain.

I know that I am the "queen of changing her mind", and this is, yet again, one of those changes. I'm still not wishing for the body I had when I was 122 pounds--that took a TON of work and I just don't want to do that again--but I would like to look at photos and not be shocked at what I see. I don't want to feel embarrassed to post photos of myself, even when they are taken from unflattering angles.

All of this is to say that I think I'd like to start actively working on losing the weight I've gained.

I am changing my goal weight of 133 to a more realistic 144 pounds. I didn't weigh myself today, but I've been sticking in the mid 160's for weeks (months?) now, so that would be about a 20 pound loss. I think I looked good at 144 pounds, and I felt physically comfortable at that weight. I chose that number because it's the top of my BMI range; and you know that I love the number 11 and its multiples (hence the previous goal weight of 133).

As far as the action plan for losing the weight... I definitely don't want to do any sort of "diet" plan. I love the idea of how I was eating in 2017, where I was losing and then maintaining my weight very easily by simply eating less and listening to my body.

However, I don't think I am able to get back to that place right now after being so far gone from it. I think that I might have to count calories for a while to get my portion sizes back down to what I had gotten so used to. (Here is my post about calorie counting my way back down to goal weight)

Restricting the types of food I eat has never worked for me (it leads to binges), so I am not going to do anything other than count calories. I have always liked eating by a schedule, and my magic numbers seem to be eating breakfast at 8:00, lunch at 12:00, dinner at 4:00, and snack/treat at 8:00. Lately, I haven't been eating with any sort of rhyme or reason--I might go all day without eating until dinner time, or I might eat throughout the day all day long.

I haven't been binge eating at all, and it's hard to say why the weight is sticking on. I thought I'd lose weight when I quit drinking, but I must have replaced those calories with something else. I haven't kept a food log, so it's hard to say exactly what is going on. I do know that I've been eating way too much ice cream this summer--the good premium stuff!--and I imagine that makes up for the alcohol calories. I've also been far less active than I was from 2010-2016.

My mood has been pretty stable lately, other than high anxiety a lot of the time. I haven't felt depressed or hypomanic, which is good. However, I've been VERY overwhelmed with things to do. Cross country has been my main focus for the past few weeks. I am loving all the new ideas I've had and having a smaller team this year (I have 12 kids on the team, 6 boys and 6 girls). The team is really fantastic, and I am excited to see how the season goes.

By the way, THANK YOU to those of you that sent me your old Garmins! Deb, Rikilynn, Catherine, and Christina, you are so generous and I can't tell you how much I appreciate your helping out our team. And Cathy, THANK YOU for the super generous Amazon gift card for our team! I bought some sports rings to use for musical hula hoops (our cheap hula hoops were getting destroyed each time we used them), some fun running socks and cool sweatbands to use for awards for my points system this season.

While I'm super excited about this season, getting everything ready has been very overwhelming. I'm a total nerd when it comes to numbers and spreadsheets, so I've spent lots of time making sheets for the kids to see all of their data. They may be too young for it, but some of them are pretty serious about improving their times, so this will give them a visual.

We have practice three times a week, and I am keeping track of their initial mile time, all of their miles logged, and their points received for attendance, mileage, and "extras". I had a new boy come to practice on Monday, and afterward he told me, "I want to join again next year!" Hahaha, that was great.

Because I've been feeling so overwhelmed lately, I haven't been working on the summer goals I'd hoped to achieve. I know it's not too late, but I think I'd like to put most of those on hold and just go back to the basics and get that down pat before I add in other stuff. There is still time for me to complete my Summer Run/Walk Checklist, so in addition to calorie counting, I'm going to work on that.

Once the checklist is done, I may start another idea for fall to keep the momentum. But right now, one thing at a time. I'm hoping that by fall, I'll be able to share some candid photos and not cringe! ;)


  1. Hi Katie.
    Thank you as always for being honest with us about what’s going on in your life. Yes, stopping drinking will add some pounds. I’m now sober for 1 ½ yrs. and have gained some pounds. It’s the sugar. It might explain your ice cream craving. I’m @ 233 on 5’3”. If I’d taken action @ 174, maybe I wouldn’t be at this weight now. I’m 55, it’s even tougher now to lose. However, I’m not giving up yet and don’t you either. So happy you’re not binge eating, hug yourself for this. You’ll get back to your comfortable weight; hang in there. Do it now. It is tougher as we get older and especially for women because of menopause. I’m back to tracking calories and walking. I’m going to lose this weight and you will too. Thank you, Katie. You were meant to write this blog. ��

  2. Dear Katie, I guess the age plays an important part here. I am 43 now. When I was 33 I lost a ton of weight and felt amazing, then I had my second child and by the time he was 2 I started gaining. It was a huge struggle and didn't want to see the role that age was playing. It felt son unfair! Now I have come to grips with it, I am older and therefore I MUST eat less food to keep an acceptable weight. It's just the way it is. I hope you reach a healthy weight but keep in mind it will take effort. You can do it, though! Blessings from South America:)

  3. You just have to do whatever makes you happy! I do want to tell you though that I don't see a "cringe worthy" pic. I just see you being happy at doing what you're doing! But like with all things in life, what other people think doesn't matter. So whatever is going to make you happy in life is the path to take! Wishing you the best of luck in everything you do <3

  4. Oh boy, I do understand your feelings about photos and the disconnect between what you see in the mirror vs photos. My husband took a picture of me at a school thing and it was a rather unpleasant reality. So, I'm with you on the back to basics and trying to get to a place you like your candid photos again. You've got this.

  5. Hi Katie. I’ve always loved your blog. Your blog helped me lose 100 pounds 5 years ago and reach many running goals that I never thought I’d be able to accomplish, like running the Big Sue marathon!! I have also gained weight over the last year and my weight is up to 170 pounds as of yesterday. I too feel uncomfortable at this weight and I am working hard at getting this weight off. I don’t know why I can’t get into the same mindset I had when I lost the 100 pounds but I am not giving up )and you shouldn’t either). WE. CAN. DO. THIS.

  6. I am in the SAME exact boat you are. I cannot for the life of me get out of 158-162 range. I also increased by goal weight from 135 to 145ish. So its not even like I am that far from that weight but still. I def think age has something to do with it.

  7. Lost 50 lb in 2011 and got fit (active in triathlon even though I was stupid slow). Dropped another 10 a few years later...but last 4 or so years, I've put on 80ish...stress, depression, age...you name it! I am sad when I look at old pics and then look at recent ones and see how far I let it get out of hand again. I can't seem to find my way back into the mental and physical effort of losing again. I had held steady earlier this year and even lost a bit, but have gained that back plus 12 lbs. I've got to dig myself out of this depression. Started seeing a new therapist, but so far I haven't been able to start back on a diet. I am not sure where to turn to next. But I feel your pain and wish you the best. ((HUGS))

  8. Thank you for always being honest! In February I went clothes shopping and when I looked at myself in the mirror I knew something had to change. I had lost 50 pounds on WW over a decade ago so I knew I could lose the weight, but I was mad at myself for getting to a point where I wasn't comfortable anymore. I used an app called Noom and have had great success with it. I've lost about 20 pounds and I've eaten pizza and ice cream along the way. I'm happy at the weight I'm at now and have a better relationship with food. Good luck!!!

  9. I've recently stopped counting calories, at least for now. I'm eating when I'm hungry and not eating sugar. (I like ice cream too.) I eat lots of vegetables and fruits and try to have some protein with every meal. It seems to be working so far as I'm losing. I've also been walking. I've seen some pictures of myself that I haven't liked either. Thanks for your blog!

  10. Oh Katie--I hear ya! I really thought at some point it would get easier, but it never does. When I got to my goal weight back in 2011, and then maintained for close to two years, I just knew I had it all figured out. Course that was three or four regains ago. For me, I need to try something new each time to get the weight back off. This time it's WW meetings, and that's not exactly new, since I first joined WW in 1973, but hadn't tried it in the last 30 years. It got me back on track. I'm really wanting to get to WW Lifetime, which I have never done before. I just hope that going to weekly meetings even after achieving Lifetime, will help me maintain.
    I always thought your secret to keeping the weight off was your running. But you've lost regains before and you know you better than anybody else. My motivation this time for losing the weight I had regained is my 50th high school reunion next month. I have 3 nephews getting married next year and I'm hoping that will help motivate me to maintain, once I get back to goal (13 more lbs.!). As much as we both fight these regains, at last we never got back to our high weight, and that makes me feel a little successful at this weight loss battle. Good luck, you know you've got so much support out here from all of us who love you!

  11. You continue to be awesome. I am so ashamed, myself, because 2 years after rapidly gaining 40 lbs. out of nowhere, I've made no progress. I ended up having a cancer scare (which turned up clear, thank god) but which yielded a metabolic disorder and the discovery that I am now prediabetic. A few years ago, I was in an ideal BMI range, running 3 miles 3-4 times per week, and truly fit. Today, I barely have the energy to walk. I know I need to take steps to change, and your blog is always so helpful to me. I think you are managing life, and all the things going on in it, amazingly and you are setting a really healthy example for readers. Thank you for persisting in your writing!

  12. I can SO relate! I have this photo in my screen-saver mix of myself 7 years ago just after I lost all my weight. My husband and I are squeezed into this teeny-tiny elevator in the apartment we stayed at in Brussels and I look so healthy. I really liked myself at 135 and would love to drop the 15-20 lbs I keep hovering above that, but it just isn't happening. I still count calories because I feel I need a way to be accountable to myself, but I don't beat myself up too much when life gets in the way of making my best choice. Sometimes we NEED the ice cream, dammit! Anyway, I try not to be sad when I see that picture, but to think of it like when I see any other picture from my past - I was a different person then in a different place and I don't need to punish myself for changing. It's hard. I was happy to read that you're in a good place mental-health wise, Katie - that really is the most important part in my opinion. Keep your chin up!

  13. wheeww lost 91 lbs from 2012-2013 kept if off though 2015. but its crept up and up and gained a total of 40. keep trying to pep talk myself. for me its the exercise more than anything else that helps me lose weight and maintain. your summer challenge is helping. lost 3 and eating better. thanks for always being honest. i love your stories and always identify with your ups and downs. we got this! the rest of the summer is ours!

  14. Unfortunately as we get older our metabolism gets worse and worse, and exercise does make a difference. But I have faith in you that you can get to your goal! Thank you for your honesty; your readers appreciate it.

  15. At 74 years of age, with post-menopause and slower metabolism, I want to let you all know that you CAN lose weight, even as you age. I am 5' tall and got up to 164 lbs, which is WAY too much for a person my size, even though I am a 'sturdy' build. Here's what happened that was SO encouraging for me: my ND (naturopath) put me on an elimination diet to figure out what foods were triggering violent histamine outbreaks. For 3 months, I had NO sugar unless it was in a natural form (fruits, veggies). I lost 15 lbs. very quickly, and effortlessly (I changed nothing except the nutrition). When we determined that sugar was not a trigger, I began adding it back to my snacks in the form of the usual processed foods. The weight crept back on....I regained 5-7 lbs. Determined to lose 15 more lbs. and get to a goal weight of 128 (no longer considered 'obese' by Mayo Clinic BMI calculations) or 135 (more realistic), I have once again given up sugar. And, I have added at least 2 vigorous 3.2 mile walks a week to my life. Once again, the weight is starting to melt off. It's NOT fast, but it is steady!! And really, that's what we want. Weight that departs slowly and doesn't return quickly!! So once again, I am eatng GOOD organic food (including meat) and eliminating ALL processed foods. I am also back on dairy, but in limited quantities, as I react poorly to too much dairy. I guess what I'm trying to say is "Hang in there! Eat HEALTHY food and keep moving! Your weight WILL begin to fall off...but not right away. Just do NOT give up!!!" You WILL be healthier and leaner,even if you are dealing with slowing metabolism due to menopause !!

  16. I've read your blog for years and relate so much. Thank you for being vulnerable.

  17. You have the best readers to send you in Garmin's - that is amazing. You really went the extra mile for them they are lucky to have you as a coach.
    I look forward to your journey - we are about the same weight and it has crept up since i stopped running as well when my son got sick. I would love to get started again.
    Thanks for your inspiration and thanks for sharing the photos and keeping it real.
    Good Luck and as always I look forward to reading about your journey. You got this. Baby steps.

  18. We're all inspired by your blog Katie. I use your words to make me a better person, it really helps a lot of us! The only thing that's kinda bugging me a little is it sounds like they're calling you post menopausal. You're still really young, (not me, I'm 60). You look good and healthy in that picture. I've never liked the thin look, not even when it was really in, back when I was young. We all deal with old age when we get there, but you guys, she's not there (far from it). We all look up to you. Thank you!

  19. Aww - I think this photo is a little unfair to you and here's why... the bottom of your legs is cut off so there is the appearance of less height here, making you look wider, I think. I have a strong feeling that if it were taken exactly like the photo on the left, it wouldn't be so shocking to you! Know what I mean? I know what you're saying about the sports bra, shirt-too-small, etc. it stinks how some photos can be so much less flattering than other photos. :-P I think your plans for the near future sound great, and also think it's awesome that you coach the cross country team. The kids are lucky to have you!
    -- Melissa in Maumee

  20. Intentional weight loss is not sustainable. I am not an expert, but check out Christy Harrison on her podcast Foodpsych and Evelyn Tribole(Co-author of Intuitive Eating). You talk about how restricting foods has lead to binges in the past which is the reaction your body should have to restriction because it goes into starvation mode. In the recovery from Bulimia, I also discovered that mentally restricting(telling myself I couldn't have another serving even if my body genuinely wanted it, etc) also led to binges. This blog poppped up on my pinterest and I thought I would share another perspective. Spending hours of your life trying to change your body can feel like a never-ending cycle of failure because when you lose track of the perfect "eating and exercising" schedule, you gain the weight back. I don't know your personal story, but from how you wrote about your struggle recently, my guess is that you could use a different perspective.

  21. That took real guts to share those photos. You look great now!


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