February 19, 2020

Weight Fluctuations: Comparison Photos of All My Gains and Losses Through the Years

weight fluctuations

As almost anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight will tell you, weight loss is not linear.

There are certainly people who drop a large amount of weight and keep it off (to within a few pounds) for years--even decades (I hate those people!)--but I am not one of them. 

I started losing weight 10-1/2 years ago (can you believe it's been that long?). And in that amount of time, my weight has gone from 253 pounds at my highest to 121 pounds at my lowest, and lots of places in between. Here is a photo of the most drastic difference--I've seen it a million times, but it still kind of blows my mind. The left photo was from 2009 and the right was in 2016.

132 pound weight loss comparison photo

Anyway, I've given a lot of thought over why the ups and downs in weight happens, and for me, it's due to all sorts of different things--mostly different points in my life and what's going on at the time. I'm a stress eater, and when I have a lot of stress in my life, well, I gain weight. I also have bipolar disorder, and when I have periods of hypomania, I have an easier time losing the weight. Depression causes me to gain weight.

There is one thing that remains constant, though. Whenever I eat less, I lose weight. Simple! I either count calories or Weight Watchers Points, but when I am actively measuring out my food and logging it, I lose weight. It's never failed me.

Over the last decade, I've tried eating a whole foods diet, intuitive eating, intermittent fasting, various challenges that I usually quit, and more, but I've never found those things sustainable for very long. I'm a big numbers person, and I need the accountability of measuring out my portions and logging them. Even if I just give an honest estimate on occasion, like when I go to a wedding or something, it works.

I'm super super bummed that all of my Weight Watchers journals/food logs are missing. I think they must have gotten thrown away somehow when I was remodeling or when I cleaned the house and got rid of a TON of stuff in 2017. I can't even being to tell you how upset I was not to be able to find them! They had so much information.

However, there is nothing I can do about it now. I've searched every square inch of my house and garage, and they are just gone. 

Without the books, it was hard to put together today's post. But I looked up everything I did have on apps and my blog and all that to try to put it together. Some of the numbers may be a little off, but I did my best to make it accurate! 

Anyway, here is a timeline (in photos and commentary) of the significant weight losses I've had over the last 10 years. I'm not saying I'm *proud* that my weight has gone up and down--I wish I could keep it steady!--but I just thought it would be fun to see. The times in between these periods were spent gaining weight, as you'll read in the commentary. To see my weight graphs, you can check out this post: Weight Timeline.

So, here are some comparison photos of the times I dropped some weight that I'd gained. I'm hoping this helps me to see that I can do it again. Today is Day 1 of counting Weight Watchers PointsPlus. I'm feeling really excited about it!

I started losing weight on August 19, 2003 using the Weight Watchers Winning Points plan. The further I went with it, the easier it got because I was seeing progress. I didn't go over my points during a single week for an entire year! No binges. And I lost weight every single week.

I continued to lose weight after this, but I was on and off again trying to count Points, and then binge eating, and emotional eating. I stayed around 143 until I broke my jaw in November. With my liquid diet and my jaw being wired shut, I dropped down to 128. But as soon as the wires came off, I gained it right back... plus some, as you can see below!

I challenged myself to consciously cut calories and get my weight down as low as I could before having skin removal surgery in November 2011. I got down to 143 before surgery, and then the doctor removed two pounds of skin. I continued with a lower calorie diet until I reached 133 pounds (it wasn't my goal weight at the time--128 was--but I changed it after realizing that 128 felt unattainable).

After this, I started marathon training, and compensated all the running with extra food. I ate too much during the training, and after the marathon in May, I continued to eat poorly except I wasn't exercising enough to keep from gaining.

After having a hard time at the half-marathon I ran in Minnesota with Renee, and then seeing my photos, I really wanted to drop the extra weight before the filming of From Fat to Finish Line.

I had shunned the Weight Watchers Flex plan when they rolled it out in 2010, because I really liked the Winning Points plan. However, because I felt like I needed a change, I decided to give the Flex (PointsPlus) plan a try for just six weeks--and if I hated it, then I'd at least be able to say I tried.

Much to my surprise, I actually really liked it! I still had the flexibility to eat whatever I wanted, just in smaller portions. It wasn't complicated with too many rules to follow. And Jerry's employer was paying for Weight Watchers at Work for employees and spouses! It was easy to follow once I got the hang of it.

I actually reached my (new) official goal weight of 133 on 12-12-12! I was thrilled. When I hit my Weight Watchers goal weight (different from my personal goal weight), I had to keep it off and then weigh in within two pounds six weeks later in order to make "Lifetime" status. The timing was horrible--I was in Miami/Key West for the week before I had to weigh in! I actually did it, though. I maintained my weight on a trip to Key West. I weighed in and made Lifetime!

Stephanie took a photoshoot of me (second photo above) and I couldn't believe it was me. Seeing my before and after photos was unbelievable.

Then again, life happened. I started training for the Chicago Marathon and was running a LOT--200 miles a month at one point--and maintained my weight within 10 pounds for the rest of the year. By April of 2014, however, I was back in the 150's. I had stopped counting PointsPlus (I can't remember why--maybe depression after the race, maybe stress, I'm not sure).

I tried off and on all year to lose the weight, but I just couldn't stick with anything. Then in December, I got a stress fracture in my left fibula. It really messed up my running schedule. I'd been planning to run the Detroit Half Marathon in October 2015 with Jerry and Thomas, but after trying to continue to run (and constantly re-injuring it), I finally decided to give it the six weeks it needed to heal.

In the meantime, I decided to give calorie counting a good try so I could drop some weight. I also made the following declaration to Thomas while feeling stubborn one day: "I'm going to get back to my goal weight and run a PR in the 10K in the spring". At the time I said that, I was 160 pounds and my 10K pace was 11:00/mile. (For a PR, I'd need a 7:55/mile pace.) It was a crazy goal. But after that bold statement, I was determined to do it.

I started counting calories until my fracture healed, and then started training...

I couldn't BELIEVE the transformation from my calorie counting and 10K training. I tried training differently, and I think that helped me to drop to my lowest adult weight of 121. I wasn't even trying to keep losing weight after I hit my goal of 133--it just kept coming off. I kicked ass in the 10K, running 49:03 (a 17-second PR). 

After that race, it was like a ton of bricks fell right on top of me. I fell into a deep depression that lasted 10 months. I had to really push myself to do the necessary tasks of daily life. I think I had been very hypomanic during my training and then after the race, I felt burnt out and disappointed it was over, and I just melted into the depression.

In February, I saw my primary care doctor who highly recommended I see a psychiatrist. (I had been on a waiting list to see one for months--it's impossible to get mental health care!). My primary care doctor suspected I had bipolar, which I thought was ridiculous. The photo of me below is when I hit rock bottom mentally--you can't tell by my fake smile in the picture, but I felt worse than ever before. 

In fact, the reason I was wearing that shirt was because I'd called my friend John in San Diego just a few hours earlier and asked if I could get a flight to his house that day to stay a few days with him and his husband, Ric. They are two of the kindest people I know, and John helps so many people with mental health just by being aware and truly caring.

I felt like I just needed them. I felt like it was a choice between San Diego or the hospital to help my mental health. I decided to try San Diego first. I got on a plane that very day and went to stay with John and Ric. I came home feeling recharged, but still felt like I needed to see a psychiatrist.

In April, I was finally able to get in to a psychiatrist. I liked him so much right away. I wrote the whole story about it here, which explains everything. But ultimately, I was diagnosed with bipolar and I started medication for it. Four days later, I felt like a different person. A million times better. And most of 2017 was AMAZING. I think the meds put me into a hypomanic state for a little while while I got used to them, but I haven't had a significant hypomanic state since then. 

The name of the game in 2017 was to do what made me happy! I quit running and I started eating whatever I wanted to eat (and NOT eat when I wasn't hungry... I quit the emotional eating because I was happy!). I all-but stopped drinking alcohol--simply because I didn't feel the need to "relax" or "relieve anxiety". I was happy. The weight just came off easily, and I was back down to my goal weight within a few months.

I started to feel mildly depressed again at the end of the year (nothing at all like before, though!). Just not so "crazy" happy. The meds felt like they were doing their job--keeping me from being too low or too high with my moods. And they've been doing that ever since! I do have periods of depression and hypomania here and there, but they are like gentle waves rather than huge crashing ones. 

I stayed between 160-170 for over a year, usually in the mid-160's. However, the last month or so, I've been avoiding the scale because I'm sure it's up again, maybe even the mid-170's (in my mind, I feel like it's going to read 253 pounds again). I didn't look today--I had Jerry write it down for me--but I'll look at it when I weigh in next week. 

Today is Day 1 of Weight Watchers Flex Points. I feel very optimistic about it. It helps a lot that my friend Adam is being super supportive (he's not doing Weight Watchers, but we are both reading an inspiring book and we made plans to run the Detroit Half together in October. 

My sister is doing Weight Watchers as well, and she's doing awesome with it. She texts daily to see how things are going and to give me ideas of what she's eating, etc. Jerry is also doing Weight Watchers again.

This post is so much longer than I anticipated! Like I said, I didn't post these photos because I'm "proud" of all the times I lost weight--hahaha. I just wanted to show that weight loss (or MINE, anyway) doesn't have a finish line. I'm constantly having to work on it, and sometimes I just don't have the energy to put as much effort into it as other times. Last year was the worst yet! (I'm almost positive it was due to stress). 

I need to start working on stress reduction, and maybe that will help me continue on with Weight Watchers. Let's hope so! :)

And because I never post photos anymore, here is one from literally right now. I'm sitting in the waiting room at Noah's doctor's appointment as I type this post, so I took a quick selfie--no make-up, hair a complete mess, and looking totally unsure of myself (there is no one else in this room, otherwise I wouldn't have the nerve to take a selfie, haha)


  1. You're amazing! Keep doing You! ❤

  2. Katie, You WILL be successful because you are so determined and you have all of the tools. Thank you...you always inspire me to be my best self :)

  3. I identify so much with all of this! I have lost and gained more times than I can count now. When I'm in a hypomania I lose amazingly. When I'm in a depression (seems to last forever) I gain like crazy. I've had my weight swing +/- 100 lbs! Thanks for being such an inspiration and just keeping it real!

  4. Thank you for your candor. I’m in a state of depression myself at the moment. I know I need to start back on ww and i just can’t find the motivation to do it. I feel like you did in reading this. I hope this inspires me to get back on the horse. Thank you.

  5. Dear Katie, you inspire me and you make me feel "normal"! I lost 40 pounds and managed to keep the weight off for a year, but recently I gained a few pounds back and that made me panic! I was sure that I would gain everything back in no time and that I would never be able to lose it again because I felt completely out of control again. But reading your blog I found out that it is normal to fluctuate and that it is possible to get the weight off again. I'm not completely out of control. Maybe I don't lose the weight right now, but I will eventually, just like you. And we will never be "done" and always have to work on it, but that is ok. So, thank you, you really helped me!
    xxx Mariƫtte

  6. Thats such an amazing story. It is so very true that diet and exercise do really work. My wife and I are in the same boat. We want to lose the weight. Just get lazy and reach for the easy foods that are comforting and familiar. Keep it up.

  7. Thanks so much for putting yourself out there. I love seeing your posts every single day, so--super job with that! Realizing that you can never stop doing the work is a big part of the battle. I have maintained a 35 lb loss for 15 years, but have been down as much as 70 lbs and bounced around between the two. I like 70 better, but sheesh--it's a lot of work to stay down there!

  8. Thank you for sharing. It takes so much bravery to be as open about the ups and downs of weight loss and mental illness as you have been. You are truly an inspiration.

    I can’t say it enough: THANK YOU!

  9. You are a natural beauty!

  10. Thank you for being so open and sharing your life - I sometimes feel like I am the only one who struggles lol! You inspire me!

  11. You are truly amazing...your honesty and openness is just plain AWESOME! So many people fight their own battles everyday. The fact that you can share yours in hopes that others don't feel alone is so inspirational! You should be very proud that you are able to share your story with the world! Keep moving forward..one day at a time. You got this!

  12. You are beautiful inside and out, no matter your weight!

  13. Thank you so much for sharing your journey and for always keeping it real! You've inspired me to get back on track and this time stay the course - like you said, there is no finish line. I need to stop focusing on the end result I want and focus instead on the little changes I can make every day to get where I want to be!

  14. I love that you posted this today. I lost 68 lbs...got diagnosed with Fibromyalgia last May....was put on medicine and stress ate and gained about 30 lbs back....trying to get them all back off. Although, I know you hate doing the ups and downs, but honestly it makes it easier for me to know I am not the only person who struggles. I am forwarding this to my best friend who has also been having difficulty. Thank you for being you, Katie.

  15. you are amazing. your blog inspired me to lose weight back in 2015, and like you with different life events my weight has gone up and down. over the past 4 months i've gained about 10lbs between the holidays and the death of a parent and you are inspiring me to really try to shed those lbs. good luck! looking forward to following along on your journey. and remember - if you have one bad day or even one bad hour, that is not a reason to stop

  16. First: John (Captain Awesome) is one of the most amazing human beings I have ever met, just a shout out cause I love him lol. I am struggling with this same thing - only I have never actually gotten to my goal weight. I started at over 300 pounds about 7 years ago. When I met my (now husband) I had lost 112 pounds ahhhh so close to my goal. Then I gained, and lost and gained and lost. I'm sitting at 70 pounds lost - that I have maintained over 7 years, so I SHOULD BE PROUD. But all I ever see is how far I still have to go. And every setback/weight gain puts me farther away. And just like you - I know what works, I obviously know HOW to lose weight, so why can't I stick to it. I've had therapy for ED (restricting and binging) and I no longer do those things. I work out 5-6 days a week and I have never quit that. I just can't seem to eat well for any length of time. Sigh. Anyway - I have followed you forever. I was on the second FFTFL Ragnar team when we were going to re-do Key West before it was canceled. Carly was one of my bridesmaids lol. It's like, I love the healthy life, but I'm still so overweight. Anyway, you're amazing and thank you for being transparent and sharing with us. I feel it!!!!

  17. Katie - do you know you can access all of the old WW programs on itrackbites app for free? May be a good option for you. -Beth

  18. I love that you share your story so freely. Many times when you post I feel like we’re going through the same things. In 2013 I lost 138 pounds I got skin removal surgery and kept it off for four years and then I met my husband. For the last three years I have been struggling and have put on about 48 pounds of that :(. I bought a new pro-form hifit trainer and I am now trying to recommit myself. I may look into weight watchers also. Thank you so much for your honesty it is much appreciated!

  19. I love your honesty and wish you much success!

  20. Katie, I have been following your blog for years. You are such a big motivation. Off late I have been spending so much time on Youtube and I keep thinking I wish Katie was here in Youtube. Yesterday, when FattoFinish popped in my prime I was beyond thrilled. And the minute I saw you talking, tears started rolling. I couldn't exactly describe why. I had read all about the movie and the other participants in your blog and watching the movie just seemed like it was all coming to life. When you all crossed the finish line I just felt like I crossed it with you all. I have my challenges and some day my hope is to cross a finish line. You and your family feel like friends to me and are such a big inspiration and I wish you all the very best!!!


I used to publish ALL comments (even the mean ones) but I recently chose not to publish those. I always welcome constructive comments/criticism, but there is no need for unnecessary rudeness/hate. But please--I love reading what you have to say! (This comment form is super finicky, so I apologize if you're unable to comment)

Featured Posts

Blog Archive