Welcome to the How They Did It series, where we spotlight one individual and their body transformation. Learn what they did, and how they did it to succeed at their weight loss journey. Today we are featuring Katie Lowe.
Tell Us a Little About Yourself
My name is Katie. I’m 24 years old, and I’m doing my best to complete a Literature PhD on top of a full-time job – which I write about on my blog, Fat Girl, PhD. I’ve always been a “fat girl” – not someone who should ever, ever be writing about fitness. Through school, through college, through uni, through endless jobs and job interviews, I’ve never not been the fat girl – until now.
What Made You Decide to Get Fit and Healthy?
I can’t say there was one thing that made me decide to change – more a set of circumstances. I’d just been through the breakdown of a pretty soul-destroying relationship, I was on and off crutches after three knee surgeries, and I’d just moved into my own (rather lonely) place for the first time – so it really could’ve gone either way at that point.
I was at a crossroads – I could either continue to get bigger, or I could make the decision to change my life for the better. Fortunately, I decided to scope out a nearby gym – and I was really lucky to meet some amazing people there, who gave me the encouragement I needed to keep trying. And I’ve never looked back!
What is Your Nutrition Philosophy?
I try to eat clean, unprocessed food 90% of the time, and I’m a big believer in making every meal both really, really tasty, and really good to look at. Nobody likes looking down at a boring plate filled with bland food – that’s no way to live, in my opinion. And I don’t believe in going hungry either – I’ve seen my body composition (the percentages of muscle and fat) change for the better as a result of eating more calories than when I was skipping meals and going hungry, so eating my full calorie allowance every day is absolutely integral to my success.
I’ve been working fairly extensively with Matt Peacock, the health and fitness consultant who designed the food and exercise program I follow, to create meals that are as tasty as they are nutritious (and, in my case, they’re gluten-free too – I’m a recently diagnosed coeliac.) It’s amazing how much your palate changes once you get used to experimenting in the kitchen! No more am I eating foods that are just salty or sweet – every meal for me now is something to really look forward to, and that’s been a huge part of the reason I’ve managed to lose 110lbs so far.
What is Your Exercise Philosophy?
Back when I started this journey, I could barely walk. I’d had an accident in 2007 that resulted in surgery to both my knees – and although I didn’t admit it at the time, my recovery was severely hampered by the weight I was carrying. I thought exercise was out of the picture, because I was in almost constant, debilitating pain – but I’d tried crazy crash diets before to try to shift the weight and had no success because, as you might have noticed, I love food. I really, really love food.
So hitting the cross trainer and pounding along at a rate of knots was outside the realms of possibility for me – and because I thought that exercise had to be intense to be effective, I’d all but ruled it out. However, Matt’s program focuses on raising the heart rate to within a comfortable, slightly elevated pace for extended periods of time, rather than forcing you to run before you can walk. And now I can do both!
I’m also a big, big fan of resistance training and yoga – but you have to keep pushing yourself to lift more, or stretch further. It took me a little while to realize that, so I was resting on my laurels lifting the same weights every time – but now I’m consistently pushing myself, and as a result, gaining muscle and losing fat.
What Was the Most Important Thing You Learned During Your Transformation?
I’ve become a completely different person since I started on this journey. I’ve had to spend a lot of time getting to know the real me as someone who isn’t defined by being ‘fat’ or ‘disabled.’ I know who I am now – and I know I’m strong, focused, and I’ve got reserves of will power that I can draw on because I know and believe in myself.
It sounds cheesy – but I think the most important thing I’ve learned is that if you believe in yourself enough, and don’t let the little voices of doubt get you down, you can do just about anything. I used to be disabled, depressed, and morbidly obese – and now I’ve found real happiness because I’ve been on this journey.
What Mistake(s) Should People Avoid When Trying to Lose Weight?
Too many people fall into the trap of treating losing weight like some sort of regime of torture – starving themselves, eating boring food, exercising until they feel sick, giving themselves an emotional beating if they slip up or if the number on the scale isn’t low enough – sound familiar? It’s a surefire route to failure, via the depths of despair, and long-term, it won’t do you any good at all.
I never go hungry, my food is always delicious, my exercise (gasp!) fun, and yes – I cheat. But I’m happy. And as for that number on the scale – bear in mind that if you’re exercising right, you’re building muscle. I’ve only been having body composition tests for the last eight weeks, and I’ve been floored by how much muscle I’ve gained – and how much fat I’ve lost – despite my bathroom scales barely budging!
What Advice Do You Have For Others?
Be nice to yourself! A huge part of weight loss is a psychological thing – especially if, like me, you’re an emotional eater. You have to get to know yourself, and your own strengths and weaknesses – and give yourself a break.
I know, for instance, that I need to be full at mealtimes, and I need to not have food to nibble on in my desk, to keep on the straight and narrow. And I can’t just eat half of ANYTHING and put the other half to one side for later. It’s all or nothing, as far as I’m concerned.
The whole ‘accept the things I cannot change’ idea really rings true in this instance. Spending some time thinking about the things you can and cannot do – and not judging yourself for the things you have to let slide – will pay dividends, long term, because you’re escaping the cycle of giving in, and beating yourself up, and thus splurging, that so many diets cause. The first step on the way to a lifestyle change is accepting yourself for who you are, and recognizing the positive changes you can make, rather than the negative changes you can’t.
If you learn to love yourself, you’ll develop the sort of inner calm and confidence that shows on the outside, regardless of where you are in your weight loss journey – and once you’ve got that, the results will follow!
Be sure to check out the past editions of How They Did It. If you or someone you know would like to be featured in the How They Did It body transformation series, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know you’re interested. More details will be provided. Don’t be shy. Your story will inspire others!