Name: Catherine Walker Hart
Height: 5 feet, 7 inches
Before weight: 168
How I gained it: Food addiction and overeating runs on one side of my family — fast eating runs on the other side. I got both! I’ve always loved to eat and have always been a fast eater. Eating way past my full point was a daily occurrence in my life.
Growing up, I was very active and had a pretty decent metabolism, so I used to get away with eating too much. After I got married in 2006, I was no longer as active as I had been and my overeating started to catch up with me. My husband and I also became the “king and queen of takeout.” When you eat most of your meals from restaurants, you don’t have control of what goes into them, and the portions are larger than one person needs. I also was a bit of a carb addict, easily eating four to five times the appropriate amount of carbs in my meals. My husband and I also developed an ice cream habit. We could go through an entire pint on a nightly basis.
The more weight I put on, the more uncomfortable I felt, which only led to more overeating. And I was not burning off any of it! I tried several attempts at the gym, but I always felt lethargic and unmotivated. Eventually, I gave up.
Breaking Point: I started to notice that I could no longer cleverly hide my weight gain with baggier clothes. I have a small frame, so there was a window of time when I could hide extra pounds, but I was gaining weight beyond that window. The depression about my weight really kicked in when I had to buy a new pair of jeans in a larger size for the third time.
I became incredibly self-conscious about my weight and felt very uncomfortable in my own skin. I liked to think of myself as a strong, active person, and there I was carrying around an extra 35 pounds. I felt like I wasn’t myself.
My weight was increasing, and I wasn’t having any success changing to a healthier diet. In fact, I don’t think I even understood what it meant to eat healthier. My grandfather had been a lean, strong, active athlete his entire life, but his addictive eating cut his life short. I knew in my heart that I had his genes and that if I didn’t change my lifestyle now, I could be on the road to obesity with serious health consequences. I needed to kick it in the butt! I decided right then and there that “being heavy” was just a phase: I would not be a heavy person for the rest of my life.
How I lost it: I lost weight because of two major life changing events: I started CrossFit in February 2008, and I learned how to cook.
The culture and method of CrossFit really spoke to me, and I quickly became a devotee. The high intensity, varied movements kept me interested, and I quickly started to see results. I began to feel strong again! The workouts themselves are very effective, and the community of support really helped me stay committed. I was able to keep a focus on my goals because I was surrounded by great people who were going through the same mental and physical challenges that I was. As my energy increased and I started to shed pounds, it was easier and easier to keep moving.
I also began to follow the Zone diet, and I finally understood the difference between protein, carbohydrates and fat and how they each affect my body. I learned about appropriate portion sizes and started eating five smaller meals throughout the day. Being able to eat more often during the day certainly made the food lover in me happy!
Once I knew more about nutrition, I was inspired to break out the cookbooks and start cooking! Empowering myself with the tool of cooking is one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I make a wide variety of recipes that contain a healthy balance of meat, fish, vegetables, fruit and healthy fats. I drastically reduced the amount of “bad carbohydrates” in my diet, like bread and pasta, by simply not including them in the meals I make at home.
I was able to find the joy in cooking when I started to view it as a chance to be creative. I make glass jewelry and my favorite part of the process is breaking up glass into small bits and rearranging them. With my new cooking knowledge, making food became very much like a process I already know and love. Chopping up ingredients, mixing spices together and arranging food beautifully on a plate all satisfy the artist (and food lover!) in me.
My mindset has changed! For me, food is an energy source, rather than something to gorge on. The more energy I have, the stronger I feel during my workouts — and the stronger I feel during my workouts, the more I want to continue with healthy food. I’ve finally gotten out of my rut and into a cycle that fuels itself in a positive way.
After weight: 132
Catherine has maintained her weight loss for 11 months. Visit her blog to read more about her CrossFit and cooking adventures.