By Kristen Kuhn
I do not have any memories where I was not overweight. I do, however, have many memories that center around my addiction to food. There were sleepovers at my friend’s house where we ate pizza, chips, and pixie sticks, and drank soda until we were in a food coma. Anytime I went out of the house with my mom, I begged until she gave in and took me to get fast food. In the summer, I would ride my bike down to the local store and spend any money I had on candy…huge, full bags stuffed with candy. During high school, my friend and I would go through the drive thru and get fast food breakfast almost every morning before going to school. In college, the food addict in me loved the cafeteria where I could eat fried food until I was ready to burst. Then, when I got my first real job and my first apartment, I stocked my cupboards and fridge with all of my favorite unhealthy foods. I didn’t exercise when I got home. Instead, I sat on the couch eating and watching television.
This compulsive eating continued. I found myself depressed, tired all of the time, and lonely. My weight embarrassed me, so I hid in my house. I turned down invitations to most social situations, unless they involved going out to dinner. There were a couple of times where I would try to lose weight, and I would lose a few pounds. Inevitably, I always gave up and went back to my unhealthy ways.
After numerous attempts and failures, I gave up. I told myself that I was a “big boned” girl and my body was meant to be this way. So I ate more. Then, as if carrying around this weight wasn’t embarrassing enough, I went to a baby shower and the metal chair I was sitting on couldn’t hold me.
The chair broke and I fell on the floor in front of everyone. I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me whole.
My sister, Jennifer, had lost over 100 pounds and invited me to go for a walk with her. I decided, why not try again? So I did. While my sister was awesome and power walked the entire way, I couldn’t do that. I vividly remember sitting on the ground by the car and crying uncontrollably. How did I let it get this bad? How could I not even walk around a track? It was time to take control of my life.
I started by going to my general physician and talking about my depression. She suggested that I talk with a counselor. I made the appointment and went. Those were some painful yet necessary discussions. Next, she suggested that I join Weight Watchers to learn healthy eating habits. After sitting in my car and crying for about 20 minutes, I walked through the doors of Weight Watchers on July 14, 2011. I nervously stepped on the scale and cried as it told me the truth. I had let myself balloon up to 314 pounds. Wow. I had a long road ahead of me and didn’t know where to start. Luckily, I found myself in a room surrounded by people who were just like me with a leader who had been where I was but was on the other side now. I was ready to battle my obesity.
Over the next year, I focused on my eating. I learned how to deal with my emotions instead of eating them. I learned how to balance my plate with healthy carbs, fats, and proteins. I gave up soda and other sugary drinks and switched to drinking only water. Was every choice I made healthy? Was I perfect and lost weight every week? No and no. Losing weight is a journey and there will be ups and downs; the trick is to learn to be okay with that. Just because I had one bad meal didn’t mean that I was done with my “diet.” This was my new healthy lifestyle and every meal was a chance to get it right.
During the first year, I lost about 50 pounds. I had more energy, my skin looked better, and I was starting to like myself for the first time in a long time. All of these non-scale-related victories were good, but my weight loss had plateaued. It was time to start moving my body.
I started working out at a local gym. The first time I went, I was back to feeling like the overweight loser. I went in and worked out anyhow. It made me feel strong. After working out at the gym for about a year, I had lost another 25 pounds. While I enjoyed exercising on my own, I knew I wanted more of a challenge.
My entire life I had always wanted to run, but always thought that I wasn’t built for it. Big girls don’t run. In fact, I vividly remember playing sports in high school and having to run for conditioning. I dreaded it because I knew I would always be the last girl to finish her laps. Suddenly, it was all I wanted to do. For weeks, I talked about it. Finally, I decided to give it a try. My sister-in-law, Jackie, agreed to run with me. We started by using the “Couch to 5K” app on my phone. We would get to about week 3, when the duration increased, and would start over thinking there was no way we could run longer. After repeating the first few weeks several times, we decided to push through. Before long, we were able to run for 10, 15, and then 20 minutes. We signed up for our first 5K run, and I was scared that I would let Jackie down and not be able to finish the race. Not only did we finish, but we ran the entire race…hills and all! What really made it special was that our families were at the finish line cheering for us. I have never felt as loved or as proud as I did at that moment. Running was now in my blood.
Although I loved running, I also wanted to continue with my strength training. I felt I needed help to step up my workouts. My friend suggested that I visit “Impulse Personal and Sports Training.” I was excited to try something new, but also super scared. So scared that I made my sister, Sara, go in with me the first time to check it out. In fact, I was so nervous that Sara did most of the talking for me. When we walked in, we met one of the trainers, who could not have been more helpful or kind. He invited me to try a free boot camp later that week.
That first boot camp was tough, but the challenge got me excited about my health and becoming stronger. I was hooked. I began participating in small group personal training in August of 2013. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The friends I have made at Impulse feel more like family. With the support of Josh and the other amazing trainers, I was able to finally hit the 100 pound loss mark. I can’t describe the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction that came along with that weight loss.
Throughout my strength training, I continued to run. I got this crazy idea to try a half marathon, but I didn’t know if it was something I would be able to do. For weeks, I kept this dream to myself, as I was still dealing with self-doubt. One day after finishing my workout, I asked two of the trainers who had helped me change my life if they thought I could complete a half marathon. I won’t forget the support and confidence they gave me when they said of course I could do it. That was all I needed. I registered for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon that same day.
Again, Jackie agreed to train and run with me. For months, we ran in the extreme cold, convincing our bodies to endure the 13.1 miles of running the half marathon required. On the day of the race, I was nervous, but excited and confident that the training we had done had prepared us properly. Throughout the race, I was surprised by my workout friends lining the streets and cheering us to our goal. Their encouragement propelled me through each mile. As we rounded the corner and approached the finish line, our families were there, just like our first race, smiling and cheering us on. I crossed the finish line with tears in my eyes and joy in my heart, realizing there was nothing I couldn’t do if I set my mind to it. I am looking forward to running the half in the Canton City Marathon in September.
When I was asked to share my weight loss journey, I felt apprehensive. I’m nobody special. Ultimately I decided that someone might read my story, see themselves, and realize they are not alone. Being obese and addicted to food can make you feel secluded but it doesn’t have to be that way. Reach out and ask for help. I won’t lie and tell you that it is going to be easy or that it is quick. There is no magic pill or fast track diet. This is a lifetime journey of eating right and moving more. There will be ups and downs, but the important part is that you pick yourself up and keep going. If I can lose the weight and change my life, anybody can. It was the hardest decision, yet the smartest decision, I have ever made. To date, I have lost approximately 130 pounds and finally I feel like the person I have always been on the inside.
You can follow me on Facebook @ Finally Finding Fit Me.
100 pound Weight Loss