100+ Pounds, Female, Natural Weight Loss

How I Lost 110 Pounds In a Year and a Half! (My Food and Workouts)

Hi! Tell us about yourself…why did you decide to start losing weight?

My name is Caitie, and I am a 32-year-old gal from Minnesota. Like many, I have struggled with my weight all of my life. I can remember in the 5th grade, sitting in a Gap fitting room with my mom trying on these jeans that all the girls I knew had. I wanted a pair so badly, but the biggest size they had in the pre-teen sizes wouldn’t fit. I remember sitting on the bench in the fitting room, with my mom trying to come up with a solution because she was heartbroken seeing me cry over this seemingly silly issue of not getting a pair of pants. It was obviously so much bigger than that.  

Over the years, I have yo-yo dieted, tried Atkins, Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Medifast, Keto… you name it, I have looked into it or done it. It just never stuck. In the 9 years now since graduating law school, my weight started to creep up, but never went down. After getting a hectic and stressful job, then getting married- it became even harder. Around the same time my husband and I decided we wanted to start a family, I had my yearly exam with my doctor. I was 250 pounds at the time. During our visit, she started discussing weight loss surgery with me and asked if I had ever considered it. Rather than encourage me to lose weight, it pushed me into a depression of self-hatred and it was only after having my son that I was pulled out. 

In late July 2019, I was at the cabin with my family. Some extended family was visiting from Washington, and they signed us all up for a 5k race. I walked the entire time, pushing my son in his stroller, and I was exhausted at the end of it. I was sweaty, I was uncomfortable, I was beaten. I remember feeling so out of sorts, and having a moment of “what has my life come to?” I couldn’t push my son’s stroller for 3 miles… and I felt like I was failing him as a mother. I never wanted to be a mother who was unable to do things with her kids and this was the turning point for me. 

On August 12, 2019, at 31 years old, I decided to take the plunge and finally get healthy once and for all.  

What was your workout routine? Can you give us what a typical week looked like for you working out?

I usually work out 5 days a week. When I started this journey, I would do 6 days of exercise with the Bikini Body Mommy program. I did weight training 3 days a week, and cardio the other 3 days. After about 3 months, I wanted to try a little bit more when it came to cardio, and I began the Couch to 5k program and began running on my cardio days. Over time, I decreased the weight training to 2 days, with running 3-4 days a week. I ran my first marathon in October – it was “virtual”- and am hoping for an in-person marathon this year!

I have always wanted to be a runner. When I was a kid, I went and watched the Grandmas Marathon- which is a big marathon here in Minnesota- and was just amazed at the strength of the people running it. We had a few family friends who ran it that year, and I was so inspired to be like them. I have never forgotten that, and so I knew one day I wanted to do that too. 

I attempted running when I was nearly 300 pounds, and it HURT. I was slow, my knees felt every step, and my back throbbed. After I had lost about 30 pounds, I wanted to try again, and that is when I started Couch to 5k. That first day, I could not run for a single minute at a time. A single minute. Now, I can run four HOURS at a time!

One of the things I like most about running is that you can actually see your progress. Each week, I can run longer and longer. Each week, my times vary and I can run faster and faster. It is truly amazing to me what our bodies can do when we fuel them right, and treat them right. 

What was your nutrition like? Can you give us what a typical day of eating looked like?

I decided to do calorie counting with the app MyFitnessPal. I knew if I truly wanted to make this a lifestyle rather than a diet, I needed to do something that would work for me forever. In the past, when I had done things like Weight Watchers or Keto, I found that I would spend so much time looking for healthy recipes or food options that were point friendly or low carb, that I would actually become obsessed over the food, and would trigger cravings in myself.

With calorie counting, it is basic knowledge which foods are lower in calories, and which are not, so I don’t really have to spend much time thinking about food at all. I also like the flexibility of being able to eat whatever I want- just in moderation. There are certain things I can’t give up- like chocolate.

I will eat chocolate every single day for the rest of my life, I promise you. But instead of eating an entire chocolate bar, I will have a tablespoon of chocolate chips, and savor each one immensely and be happy that I could spend just 80 calories of my day on such a delicious little treat. I typically aim for 1200-1350 calories a day, though when I was in the middle of marathon training, that was much higher.

Breakfast: Coffee with fat-free half and a half and some Splenda, fat-free greek yogurt, a stick of light string cheese, and a turkey stick.

Lunch: A turkey and ham sandwich on light wheat bread with some light mayo, mustard, and pickles. A sliced apple or orange. A serving of pretzels, reduced-fat cheezits, or Skinny Pop.

Snacks: Popcorn. Literally every day. I get just the popcorn kernels and have a silicone microwave popcorn maker that is a game-changer. I spritz the popcorn with some butter-flavored cooking spray and top it with some low-calorie popcorn seasoning (my favorite is a combo of white cheddar and kettle corn seasoning to give that sweet and savory combo). I also am a big fan of light string cheese, fat-free Greek yogurt, and protein bars.

Dinner: Tyson blackened chicken tenders (these are a staple in my house), roasted veggies (I just throw some carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower on a baking sheet for 20 mins or so with a spray of olive oil and some salt and call it a day), and some air fryer fries or a baked potato with light butter.

Dessert: a Built Bar warmed up in the microwave for 10 seconds, eaten with a fork- truly delish!

A side note here- it is important to teach yourself to love fruits and veggies. When I was a kid, we only ever had boiled veggies. Boiled broccoli, boiled carrots, boiled beans. I was never a big fan, because… yuk! Have you tried boiled veggies lately?

I taught myself some easy tricks for cooking veggies, and for me, roasted is the easiest and tastiest. Sometimes I spice it up a bit and throw some feta cheese or pepitas on my roasted veggies for a crunch or flavor change. Whatever you have to do – do it. Every meal of mine has a huge serving of veggies, whether that be a roasted veggie, riced cauliflower, or some spaghetti squash. So low calorie, and so filling!

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How did you stay motivated to lose weight? Did you ever slip up?

There is a saying that I read somewhere at the very start of my journey- “A year from now, you will wish you had started today.” For whatever reason, that really stuck with me, and I think of it all the time. On days when I struggle, I think of that. On days when I have urges, I think of that. Over 17 months after starting my health journey, I still think of how dang happy I am that I started when I did. 

I also keep a mental list of things that were hard for me when I was overweight. Going up and down the stairs; bending over to help my son; kneeling on the ground; walking any distance at all; finding clothes to wear in the summer; my back pain; my knee pain; finding clothing in any typical clothing store that fit. Every single thing. I remind myself that this journey is really hard sometimes, but not nearly as hard as all of those other things were!

Of course, I slip up and have bad days or even a bad week here and there. The difference is, I know I have the tools and mental tenacity to pull myself back on track after falling off the course. Before this journey started, whenever I attempted to lose weight before, it felt like a diet, and if I fell off the horse, there was no getting back on. Now, I know with a bad day or week, I will be able to just sort of seamlessly get back on, so long as I decide to. The mental aspect of this journey is as hard- or harder- than the physical one. Once your head is in the right headspace, the other pieces just sort of fall into place. 

When did you start to notice progress?

I would say by the second month, I started feeling more confident. I also started noticing how natural my eating habits had become, and was confident this time, it was the real deal and I was going to stick with it. I remember maybe two months in, looking at myself in a mirror at work, seeing the reflection, and thinking “wow! I am doing this! I can see the changes!”

Did you use any sort of trackers/apps/scales to track your progress? 

I am a huge fan of MyFitnessPal. It is free and very comprehensive, so it is very easy to track foods, meals, recipes, etc. I also love that it allows you to pre-plan meals a couple of days before. That seems strange, but some apps do not allow that. When I started, I would plan my whole week’s meals, and it was nice being able to pre-track those things.

I also love the Arboleaf digital scale. It measures your weight, but also your muscle mass, BMI, and other things. It is great to see all that information, because as we all know- weight doesn’t tell the whole story!

I make sure to drink 120 oz of water every day. Hydration is SO important to many things, including weight loss and fitness. I have gifted a Hydrate Spark water bottle for my birthday this year, and it is a real game-changer. It keeps track of my water intake through an app and reminds me by lighting up when I am falling behind. It has changed my water intake immensely!

For running, I use Strava. I love that it keeps track of my yearly stats, helps remind me when I need new shoes, and allows me to connect with other runners!

Are there any other fitness products that you used frequently?

I have lots of foods that I couldn’t survive without. I love a good protein bar, and my favorites are BuiltBars, Barbells, and CrunchFit bars. I eat Tyson Blackened chicken tenders several times a week. For tortillas, I love Ole’ Extreme Wellness wraps.  

Do you have any weight loss “hacks” or “secrets” that helped you succeed?

I wish there were quick tricks to weight loss, but they’re just aren’t. And something that works well for me may not work well for you. If we all ate the same foods each day and did the same activity, we would all still look drastically different from one another. I think it is extremely important to look at this as a lifestyle and not a diet and treat it as such.

Choose something that you can see doing for the rest of your life. For me, that includes a treat day every week, where I intuitively eat things I otherwise would hold off on. I am working very hard on making sure I focus on mindful eating on these treat days, rather than just going “hog wild”. It just is nice knowing that if I said no to a donut on Wednesday, that on Sunday, I can have that donut.

Making sure you don’t restrict what you can eat- especially if those things you are saying no to are just part of the things that bring you joy- you will fail. I am a huge fan of sweets. Cake over chips any day. I would never be able to give that up forever, and I know a diet that requires that won’t work for me. Find one that works for you and just do the damn thing.

Do you have any fitness books/podcasts/websites that you’d recommend and why?

I can’t recommend “It Was Me All Along”  by Andie Mitchell enough. Before reading this book, I honestly did not know that binge eating was a disorder that others struggled with. I had of course heard of bulimia, but never knew that binging alone was a disordered eating habit that others struggled with. It gave me the feeling that – I am not alone in this journey- and also helped me see a path forward.  

What is your best advice to beginners who are looking to lose weight?

I know many people will advise to “just get started”, but I am going to challenge that. I think it is extremely important that you start when you are mentally prepared to start. Whatever that means for you, start at a time when you feel ready to. Some people like to plan to start on a Monday, some people will just drop what they are doing and start on a Wednesday afternoon. The important thing is knowing you want to make a change and dedicated yourself to that change.

I knew I wanted to make a change, and I knew I needed to start on a Monday. So, I made a plan, prepared, got a meal plan together, mentally prepared myself, and by the time I started, I dove in headfirst and did it. 

Where can we find more about you?

You can see my whole journey, from the very start, on Instagram at @gettinghealthyinmythirties

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