Losing weight is easy. And really hard.


Before and afterLike most overweight people I had a general goal to lose weight, so for Christmas 2009 I asked for (and received) a pedometer.

I had fun playing with it, even though I was kind of sad how low my steps were (1000-3000 per day). But in January 2010, things got real. I got a phone call from my doctor saying that I had precancerous cells on my cervix and when did I want to schedule an appointment to have part of my cervix removed. I was all, “Whoa, I like my cervix right where it is. I plan on having babies and I’ll need that thing.” So I did my research and discovered that this wasn’t all that uncommon but that it also wasn’t uncommon for the precancerous cells to die off with no intervention (in a healthy adult). So, I went Against Medical Advice and asked my doctor to give me 6 months and retest. I was confident in my choice, but scared witless at the same time. It was (I kid you not) 1 week later that I learned about Henrietta Lax and her extremely aggressive cervical cancer that killed her at age 31 (I was 29).

wet summitI asked my doctor if there was anything that I could do in the interim to help my body heal. She said, “Don’t start smoking.” But I needed to do more, so I started making good use of that pedometer and started walking daily. And I wasn’t fooling around. I went from about 2,000 steps per day (less than a mile) to a minimum of 10,000 (about 5 miles) in one day. While I did this purely for my overall general health, I realized that I was missing a golden opportunity if I didn’t also modify my diet.

Because of a misbehaving pancreas, I have a pretty “clean” diet to begin with. My food problem was purely a volume issue. So I decided to eat less. I made my lunches a little smaller. I reduced snacking (I couldn’t quit snacking altogether because of that aforementioned pancreas). And then I exercised to keep me busy and away from food. I exercised Every.Single.Day. Sometimes that meant going out at 11 pm to squeeze in those last 1000 steps. Every time I thought about not hitting my minimum for the day, I thought about those little precancerous cells and how, with my choice, I had some modicum of control over how far away my death was. Fortunately, that part worked out, and the precancerous cells and HPV went away and have never returned.

hiking pictureAt first my friends cheered me on with my weight loss. Yay! 10 lbs! Whoohoo!

Those pants look good! But weight loss is a tricky, tricky thing. I think the biggest failure in the weight loss industry is the failure to talk about the emotional impact of weight loss. The emotional stressors come from all sides. Most people mean well, but it’s hard when a friend used to have time for you, but now can’t come over for drinks and a movie, because she has to go hit the hill. My priorities changed and not everyone was ok with that. And those friends brought their own emotional baggage.

I went from being fatter than them to thinner than them and some took it as a judgment on their inability to meet their weight loss goals, when nothing else was farther than the truth. Losing friends while losing weight sucked big time.

hiking togetherBut the hardest part was on the inside. I went from underweight in 2nd grade to overweight in 4th grade. I have always identified as FAT. I’m a big girl all around. I’m 5’11” and, at my peak was 273 lbs. At my lowest adult weight, after over 15 months of “boring” diet and exercise, I got down to 167 lbs (top “normal” BMI for my height is 173). The last time that I had been 167 lbs, I was 11 years old.

So in a relatively short period of time my whole self identity changed. Who was I? FAT was safe. I understood it. I mean sure, dating was harder, airplane seats were tiny, and about 90% of the population judged every bite that I put into my mouth, but I knew the game. What would skinny me be? The rules would change. Hell, the whole effin game would change. But I would still be me. Right?

my first 5kBut every day I decided that today couldn’t be the day that I failed. I only had to win at today. And I kept plugging on. After I lost about 80 lbs a fellow writer said that she wanted to write a story about me and my weight loss for The Free Press (made more impressive by the fact that I make cookies for a living). I was excited! I like publicity. I’m an extrovert. This sounded like fun. And it was. Until after it came out. It was a great story, but suddenly everyone felt like they had a right to comment on my body. I had made it public, after all.

People told me that that I was losing too much weight. People told me that I looked great. People told me that my boobs were getting too small. People told me that I was an inspiration. I would get hit on by farmers that I had known for nearly a decade. People wouldn’t shut up about my body.

feast on a mountainEven at my peak weight I had never had “body issues.” I remember actively choosing as a teenager to love my body and myself. I am the only me that will ever be and I can’t be someone else. So, I chose to be not miserable and accept myself with whatever came. That didn’t mean that I loved everything about my body and myself, but I accepted it all. Until the article. All the judgment pointed at me made me second guess everything. Every pound shed, every wobbly, saggy bit, every pound retained. Was I in fact harming my body, like one woman told me multiple times at the farmers market? She was genuinely concerned. If I “failed” would I fail for the people who said that they were inspired by me? That was a lot of weight to bear (haha, get it? Weight? Haha). Should I suddenly change my diet (that was working for me) to the 17 different things that people were telling me worked for them? Had I built up too much muscle to get into the “normal” BMI range? Did I have thick bones? Should I stop losing weight? Should I keep going?

moonlight winter summitWhile I relearned how to love myself my weight plateaued for a month or two. I still exercised every day, but I didn’t do the extra work of notching down my food quantity (which I had to do every 10 lbs or so). It was a really hard time emotionally. Ironically, it was also when I was getting to know my now husband, who was on a weight loss journey of his own. He was an excellent source of support. But ultimately the real support had to come from within. I don’t know if everyone is like this, but for me, any big decisions have to be made accountable to only me. Sure, anyone could come and exercise with me, but whether or not they showed up played no role in whether or not I headed out into the rain.

At the summitEven after I was “done” losing weight, I still exercised daily until after the birth of my daughter in 2014. So little of my pregnancy weight came off and now I’ve creeped just barely back into the obese zone. But I’m actually ok with that. I’m still far, far below my peak weight. And just like my priorities changed when I started on this weight loss journey, my priorities changed again when I had my daughter. At 21 months, I’m starting to get my exercise feet back under me, but with another on the way, I’m sure that that will change again. And as she grows older, I’m sure that I will find a new solution. I like who I am now and I don’t want to go back. Changing my entire self perception was hard and I am confident that I won’t need to do it again.

Folks often ask me how I lost the weight and are usually a little let down by the answer. I ate food close to the way it came out of the ground, I exercised daily and I burned more calories than I consumed. The story will never be a best seller, but frankly, losing the pounds was the easy part.

before shot40 lbs lost

celebration in the dressing room

I earned this dress


  1. Thank you ladies! I enjoyed writing this story about the often ignored side of weight loss. This transition is such a core part of who I am now, that I can’t imagine living without the dichotomy that is being the “different person” that I was before yet being the same person. Maybe like the transition from childhood to adulthood.

  2. I’m so glad I read this!! I’ve been buying hot sauces galore from you for a few years and had no idea about your story. As a person who struggles w weight loss it was refreshing to read this. You ARE amazing. Thank you

  3. Rock star! It’s so hard not to tie your feelings to your own weight… I’ve struggled with this myself. Your journey is remarkable because of the changes that were internal, and I love reading that you’ve been happy with your body in all the ways, shapes and forms it’s been. Motherhood has a way of challenging our own judgments about the miracles it produces!


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