Hi, my name is Katie Mag, and I’m a recovering food addict. Seriously, that’s how I should probably introduce myself. These pictures offer the tiniest peak into my life a few years ago, versus my life now and I want to share a portion of how I got from there to here with you, as a window into why I am so passionate about all the things I share on this blog about health, food, recipes, fitness, and supplementation! The “before” photo is from when I first moved to Washington, DC just (almost) four short years ago. The “after” photo is from a photo shoot I got to do in Las Vegas at the wellness convention I went to in June 2017. The girl(s) in these two photos could not be more different. Let me tell you a little bit about the fourish years in between:
When I think of the “old” me I think of sadness, failure, struggle, addiction, anxiety, frustration, anger, self-hatred, horrible allergies, poor sleep, nightmares, lack of energy, fat rolls (just being honest!!!), jeans that won’t zip, doubt, disordered eating, and fear…to name a few.
A few years back, in November of 2013, I had been living in the District for less than three months when my Nanee (my mom’s mom and one of my best friends) had to have a knee replacement. I previously lived with my Nanee and Papa the summer of that same year before moving to the District. As Nanee’s surgery was approaching my Papa and I worked out a deal that he would fly me back to Arkansas and pay me to come be Nanee’s nurse for the two weeks after her surgery. Being broke and job-less, I decided this was a no-brainer — spend two weeks with my Nanee, get to watch my cousin play football, see my family a little bit, and get paid to do it. Off I flew.
The reason I share this is because all of this happened at (what I didn’t want to admit was) a tumultuous time in my life. I was fresh off of a move to a new “big” city after living in Arkansas my entire life. I was struggling to find a job after leaving an internship that I hated. I wasn’t making money. I spent my days searching and applying for jobs online, watching every talk show from the Today show to Ellen (and all the crap that comes on in between), and unfortunately…eating my feelings away.
I ate when I was sad because I missed home.
I ate when I was nervous because I didn’t have a job.
I ate when I was frustrated because I hadn’t found a job I liked.
I ate when I was scared because I though I’d “fail” and have to move back home.
I ate when I was lonely because I was spending my days in an apartment by myself.
You might be seeing a trend at this point. I ate all the time. And due to the whole “not having a job” thing, I was eating CHEAP CRAP. Totino’s pizzas,
chocolate chip cookies (let’s be honest, I usually just ate the dough), anything you could make with a Pillsbury crescent roll base, Doritos…if it came in a package and was made from chemical “food-like” substances, I was probably eating it.
Of course, you can imagine that I gained weight quickly. Not only was I eating that way, but I sat on my butt all day with little movement other than to make my food or go to the bathroom. Oh, and once a week or so I’d walk to the grocery store…to get more food-like substances. Bless it.
I. Was. A. Struggle.
All of this led up to the two weeks that I stayed with my grandparents. I didn’t eat much better when I got there. We relied on take-out and meals from friends and I fully enjoyed the excuse to be lazy in my cooking (or lack of) and eating habits. One day, I went into a bookstore to mooch off of their internet and apply for jobs after dropping Nanee off at physical therapy. After submitting some job applications I grabbed a diet book. I can’t remember the name of it, but I’ll just tell you the plan was complicated, legalistic, and simply not sustainable. But I was desperate. After overcoming an eating disorder in college that still plagued me, I knew I had to make a plan or I would resort back to that mess and I really didn’t want to go back there. (Side note: What’s ironic, or maybe not so much, is that I still did have disordered thinking surrounding food and my body even though I wasn’t throwing up at the time.) I thought, maybe I could at least do this until I got back to a more manageable weight (Yeah right…I’m pretty sure I had pizza for dinner that night!), so I bought the book. The beginning of the book had you write down your weight and measurements before you started so you could track your progress every week, so when I got back to my grandparents’ house, I went into the bathroom and stepped on the scale.
The number that appeared broke me. I’ve never shared this number publicly before, so don’t ask me why I’m choosing now to expose this in the most public of places…the internet. But in the spirit of being candid and transparent, as promised, I want to share the number with you.
The scale read 192 pounds.
I was 5’6ish”, 22-years-old, and 192 pounds. I stared at the number for probably a solid 20 seconds trying to tell myself the scale must be broken. But it wasn’t. I stepped off of the scale, lifted my shirt, looked in the mirror, and loathed myself. Hot tears streamed down my face as I grabbed the fat rolls around my waist and pulled at them longing for a way to just rip them off. I leaned back against the bathroom wall and slid down it until I was sitting on the floor, buried my face into my knees, and wept. How did this happen? How had I gotten so far down this road? I’d like to say that was my “aha moment” and that things got better from there. That was definitely one of my lowest points (and my highest weight) and it was the start of me realizing I had to make a change, but it still wasn’t my true breaking point.
(Left to Right: May 2013, September 2013, October 2013, May 2014)
Fast forward a few months to March of 2014 and I was back in D.C., now with a new job, in a new year, wanting to be better, but still struggling with a long-standing inaccurate and awful perspective of who I was and where my identity was rooted. I had managed to drop a little weight through yo-yo dieting, but I was still dealing heavily with relentless and unhealthy food cravings, anxiety, and self-hatred. A very good friend of mine, recommended the book “Made to Crave” by Lysa TerKeurst to me. I bought it and read the whole thing within just a few days. It spoke so deeply to me and what I had wrestled with for essentially my whole life. THAT was my turning point. That’s where I saw that this struggle was so much deeper than a fleshly matter. It was rooted in my heart and my abuse of food to numb any and all of my emotions.
From there, I started to pray through my food addictions. I started to slowly change my eating habits little by (very) little. I tried to go to the gym every few days and became more conscious of why I wanted to eat – Was I actually hungry or was I using food to subdue my emotions? I spent a few months working on the heart of the issue and trying to change my habits, which I believe was at the core of my whole turn-around. To a point, it made all the difference. It was the beginning of a three year (and still counting!) journey to learning how to turn to my Savior to fulfill me, rather than food and to discovering how I should fuel my body. I had read one too many diet books instead of simply listening to what my body was trying to tell me.
In July of that same year (2014), I sparked a Facebook conversation with an acquaintance from my high school years – a volleyball coach for one of the teams we played against. We hadn’t spoken in almost five years, and to be honest, I barely knew her, but I had always admired her for many reasons. Her faith in God was deep, her love for her family was strong, she was knowledgeable about nutrition (which I coveted), and she had a blog – one that really embodied what I someday hoped to have. (See how this is all coming full circle?!) During our conversation, I mentioned the health struggles I had dealt with. A huge part of my health story, that I haven’t mentioned (for the sake of trying to keep this from turning into a book), was that I had suffered from excruciating stomach pain and digestive problems all throughout high school and college, that no doctor seemed to be able to pinpoint. After more tests than I care to remember, a Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (Google it!), years of relying on Miralax and a heating pad, a scare with an intestinal kink, countless enemas, a trip to the ER for heartburn that I thought was a heart attack, and a lifelong struggle with constipation I had given up any hope of ever knowing what was wrong with me or being able to feel good again. For some reason (in God’s goodness), I shared that with this acquaintance and she shared her similar past and how a certain supplement line had helped her to feel better. I was skeptical that anything was going to help me after already trying what felt like everything, but something in me hoped that maybe this would be different. To make a long story short(er), I tried it and within a few weeks, I was feeling like I had never remembered feeling. Like EVER!
And that, was when the change came full circle. I had hit rock bottom, I was dealing with the heart of my emotional eating and self-hatred, and now I had found something that made me feel human for the first time in years upon years upon years. Things were looking up. But PLEASE (if you’ve made it to this point), “hear” me say this…
I didn’t change everything overnight.
There wasn’t a switch that flipped where all of a sudden everything was easy and I didn’t crave cake for breakfast and my life was just magically transformed. It took time and work. It took being proactive and showing myself grace. It took journaling, prayer, accountability, and consistency. And most of all, it took everything in me to decide each and every day that I wasn’t going back to that place of despair ever again.
(Left to Right: August 2016, November 2016, February 2017, March 2017)
When I think of the “new” me, I’m so thankful that all those awful words don’t come to mind! I define myself so differently now than I did three years ago – joyful, a conqueror, persistent, confident, up for a challenge, comfortable in my skin, no longer burdened with allergies, sleep like a baby (Do babies really sleep that well? Moving on…), all the energy, fewer fat rolls (still being honest!), love wearing my skinny jeans, rooted by my identity in Christ, less focused on what people think of me and more on how I can help others – again, just to share a few things. I’m faithful with my supplements. I strive to eat an 80/20 plant-centered paleo diet (and you’ll often find me falling back on the Whole30 plan for a reset after indulging or vacationing). I’m an avid workout junkie (shout-out to my favorite way to #makesweatsexy – ((305)) Fitness!!!). I’m not perfect, but I don’t want to be! I want to be able to enjoy life without the constant yo-yo of overindulging and restricting. I’m constantly evaluating and tweaking my food freedom and how to treat my body with love and respect.
I’m sharing my story here a bit hesitantly, because my aim here is not to be praised or put on a pedestal. My hope is that, instead, as you read this and you see how far I have come, that you will feel hopeful! Yes hopeful ! If I can do this, then you absolutely can too. If you focus on your mindset, and you are willing to dig deep into the most painful and broken places of your heart, little by little you can break free and find a life so profoundly joyful too.
So…to wrap things up (goodness, I never intended for this to be so long!!!), much of what I share on this site is all about what has worked for me, what I have tried, and what I can personally vouch for. I’ve been learning how to listen to my body for a few years now and taking each step with the understanding that all change takes time. You didn’t get to where you are overnight, so you won’t get to where you want to go overnight either. I don’t share about my journey from a professional background in health or nutrition, but as someone who went searching for answers after all professional help failed to find them for me. (Not saying that out of bitterness, I promise! It’s just the honest truth.) I can’t wait to share more with you about all that I’ve learned and loved!!!
all the hearts,