Inspiration: Katey Dyck’s Incredible 102-Pound Weight Loss

Name: Katey Dyck

Age: 34

Home: Fort Washington

Starting weight: 243

Current weight: 141

Total time it took to lose the weight: Approximately one year. The weight has now been off for more than two years.

My weight-loss wakeup call: One day, when my daughter was five years old and I was at my peak weight, I had a conversation with my mother, whose father died when she was just five years old. She told me she only has a small handful of memories of him. It hit me like a ton of bricks. My family is my life, and my obesity was putting my life at risk.

How I did it: I started slow. I still don’t know what my precise start date was, because I had no idea I was about to change my whole world. After so many years spent yo-yoing up and down, I thought that surely this was just another “diet.” So I started with what had worked in the past: cutting carbs. I stopped eating sweets (which was a tough adjustment, but totally worth it!) and other complex carbohydrates. And I started getting my blood pumping, which didn’t take much. I had been completely inactive for my first 31 years of my life. I never played a sport, and I avoided physical exertion whenever possible. I felt a distinct lack of confidence in my own body, and my self-consciousness generated a fear of sweating in public.

It might not seem like much, but when I first got started I went on three-mile walks. By the end of these walks I was completely winded. But after a while, it felt like momentum. I asked my husband to drag the cobweb-covered stationary bike up from the basement, and I started focusing on maintaining my target heart rate for as long as I could.

Low-carb eating, biking and walking worked for the first 60 pounds. Then I hit a plateau that wouldn’t break. That’s when I had to kick up my game. I had to start tracking my food — every bite, every sip — and I had to step up my fitness. So I took on Shaun T’s Insanity program. The tried-and-true old fashioned way (expel more calories than you take in!) did the trick. The last 40 pounds came off. I did not use any apps; I didn’t follow any corporate diet plan, drink any shakes, or take any supplements. I changed my lifestyle. I eliminated processed foods, never went back to sugar, and incorporated exercise into my every day life. I have been able to maintain it because I made my health an organic part of my natural rhythm.

The moment I realized I was succeeding: My “I realized I was succeeding” moment and my “Ah-ha! I did it!” moment were very far apart, because my journey took a full year. My early success was lovely, but it was also something I had done before. I had lost as much as 70 pounds in previous weight-loss attempts, but it always came back on as soon as I was done with my diet. So this time, I did my best to celebrate a “Hooray, I’m succeeding!” moment with every small bit of progress, whether it was a new pants size (and there were several on the road from size 24 to size 4), or a smaller number on the scale, or an extra distance I could run, I latched onto my successes with a death grip. I needed them to help me ride out the times when I had to fight my way through hard chapters, weeks when the scale wouldn’t move, days when I considered giving up. I kept my joy of success at the front of my mind so that the inevitable moments of defeat couldn’t beat me.

My biggest “I did it!” fitness moment was when I finished my first round of Insanity (which I completed twice). I had never succeeded like that before. I met my strong self for the first time. I never knew that I could feel so empowered. I was convinced that if I could survive Insanity without skipping a single day, giving 110 percent for every workout, then I could do anything. I never felt that way before, and it’s not something I ever want to lose. Becoming physically strong eliminated an ocean of fears and self-doubt. It turned me into a fitness evangelist. The thing that once brought me shame had pivoted to bring me joy, relief from stress and strength. I now have a healthy-living blog and work as a goal coach at Balance Chestnut Hill because I am devoted to helping others who don’t believe in themselves to meet their own strength.

The biggest obstacles I had to overcome: My biggest obstacles were the multitude of fitness myths I had absorbed over a lifetime. Exposure to endless commercials and infomercials promising that healthy and strong can be quick and easy convinced me that I could somehow buy my way out of doing the hard work.

I had to deprogram my whole approach. There is no shortcut, no pill, no gadget that can achieve your fitness goals for you. You have to sweat. You have to choose not to indulge the voices in your head that are begging for ice cream. You need to prioritize your health every single day. It gets easier as it becomes your norm instead of your diet, but the choices are all your own.

My three best tips for anyone trying to lose weight:

1. Find a motivator that’s not going anywhere. Mine was my kids. I need to be here for them, and I want to meet their children some day. Obesity and a family history of stroke were threatening my Mama Tiger side, and Mama Tiger is the side of me that will not quit. But my motivator won’t be everyone’s motivator. Everyone needs to find their own, and it can’t be something that will abandon them in times of cravings or weakness. Their motivator needs teeth. It needs to be a true north that can out-wrestle cocktails, Halloween candy, even Thanksgiving dinner.

2. Don’t rely on anyone else’s template. When your diet and exercise plan conflicts with your natural choices, you will start counting the days until you can throw in the towel. Even if it means taking baby steps and making minor corrections along the way, follow your own path. Find the healthy options that taste good to you. Ease away from processed foods, and find whole ingredients that you love. Tweak your workout until it’s just right. I do cardio on a machine that doesn’t feel punishing, while using WiFi to watch a carefully curated cardio music-video playlist. Figuring out what works for me took a lot of trial and error, but now I look forward to it every day.

3. You can’t out-run your fork. You can sweat yourself strong, but if you don’t manage your food you’ll never be able to sweat yourself thin.

The one thing I would say to my old self: Believe in yourself. It’s so much happier on the other side, so set your mind, point your feet, and go.

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