Caitlin’s Story

When people hear me say that I’ve lost over 100 pounds, they inevitably ask me, “What’s the secret?” or “How did you do it?”. So, here it is…

I’ve been overweight my ENTIRE life. My mother had me on a diet when I was a toddler. I was a size 14 in 11th grade and a 16/18 by college. I yo-yoed for years, up to size 20, down to a size 16. Once I even got down to a size 14, but by the time I hit my late 20s I was up to a 22/24. By the time I had my kids I was steady at a size 24/26.

The interesting thing is, I always had a relatively easy time dropping weight whenever I put in minimal effort in to it,. The catch was, I eventually gained it all back. I also had short-lived success with Jenny Craig, caffeine weight loss pills, prescription pills, weight watchers, etc…
Things started to change for me in September 2011 while I was taking a mommy and me class with my son. There was a personal trainer in my class whose energy and physique I envied so much that one day I got up the courage to ask her about training. Soon after that she called and told me she really wanted to work with me – and so started my journey.

I began by exercising 5-6 days per week for about 30-40 minutes. My workout regimen consisted of walking on the treadmill, step aerobics (using my trusty 1990’s Kathy Smith video), and a strength workout twice a week. My personal trainer came to my house once a week to take me through my strength routines and provide me with homework, and by Jan 2012, I had lost about 25 lbs. I was trying to eat a little healthier and kept up the exercise piece, never slacking for nearly four months. But, then we went on vacation that January and again at the end of April. We had birthdays and whatnot… All excuses to eat junk…I did keep up the exercise, but I wasn’t dropping more pounds. When I was younger, I would have still been losing with this amount of exercise. I was certain this plateau meant I had hormone or thyroid issues so I went to my doctor. There I was told that “at my age” it’s very hard to lose weight, it would take an enormous level of commitment to exercise and healthy diet to lose the weight AND it would be very difficult for me to drop below 200 lbs. I left feeling defeated. I was already putting in hard work keeping up the exercise. What more could I do?

Another month or two went by and then something just clicked. I “woke up” one day and decided if I’m going to do this, I’m doing it right, no excuses. At the end of July 2012, I started exercising 1 hour a day and started “running” (okay, it was more like “wogging”). I cut out sugar completely for three months and severely limited white flour and processed foods. I made a conscience effort not to follow a diet “plan” because I’ve tried all of that in the past and I need something sustainable. I didn’t want to count calories, calculate points, or follow a list of foods that were “good” and “bad”. I needed to change my eating habits permanently, not just to drop weight and gain it back. Making these changes, I started losing an average of 10lbs/month.

When my trainer moved out of state at the end of summer I was on my own. I was still keeping my momentum up, but felt I needed some direction. That’s when I found Clay Fitness. My only experience with ever going to a gym was during one of my weight loss yo-yos. I had such a horrible experience that I never went back again. I was nervous to go to a location rather than having a trainer come to me in the privacy of my home. I met with Elly at Clay and quickly realized that Clay is definitely NOT a stereotypical “gym”. I did personal training sessions for my first couple of months at Clay and eventually added in Cycle, semi-private personal training, and now I’m braving group classes and boxing. I even got my husband to start Iron Cardio at Clay. Yep, I’m pretty much a Clay junkie!

Prior to the beginning of this journey, I had never participated in any sports, races or organized exercise of any kind. Since October 2012, I have completed five 5K races (including hitting my goal of under 30 minutes), a 10K mud run, two 5K mud runs and, with a little nudge from Hyam and support from Clay clients, I completed my first Sprint Triathlon this past June. Most recently, my husband and I participated in the 17 mile Richmond Anthem Moonlight cycle ride and we are currently training together, under the guidance of Elly at Clay, for our first half marathon in November. The idea of running even one mile without getting out of breath used to seem impossible. The thought of ever participating in races or any athletic event had never crossed my mind. I now find these events help keep me focused and motivated. I love having goals to work towards.

My initial weight loss goal was to be a single digit size by the time I turned 40. At the time, that seemed SO far out of reach. In May 2013, I celebrated my 39th birthday at a size 8. My goals are much less about my weight now, and much more about maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle and enjoying all the things I am now able to do.
I began this journey sparked with the motivation of seeing my first trainer with her son in our mommy and me class. I loved her energy and wanted to have that same energy for my children. I wanted to be healthy for my kids, to run with them, hike with them, be active with them and be a healthy role model for them. My husband and I are now much more active with our kids than we had ever been. I no longer have to worry about not fitting on the rides at amusement parks or not having the energy to participate in fun activities. I’m enjoying new experiences and activities with my family that I had never imagined being able to do.

So the secret is… there is no secret. It’s hard work and changing the way you think about food. Never give yourself excuses. I work out when I don’t feel great, and when life is crazy. Anyone can do it. The hardest part is telling yourself NO EXCUSES and to not beat yourself up if you have bumps in the road. It’s a lifestyle change, not a diet. The good news is, it becomes much easier. What starts out as more of a “chore”, becomes habit, and eventually becomes ENJOYABLE. My only regret is that I didn’t make this change and commitment long ago so I could have enjoyed so many more things. I’m now happily making up for lost time and hope to inspire and help others with their journey to a healthy lifestyle.


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