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Going in Circles

For almost 19 years, I’ve been working on my body. I’ve lost and maintained a 100 pound loss with the help of healthy eating, exercise, and endless support from loved ones.

I’m not sure that I’ve ever fully processed what I accomplished, and truthfully I don’t know that I ever well, either. The truth is, when you have a lot to lose, the mental side of weight loss feels more challenging than the physical… at least most days.

My loose skin will never allow me to sport a “tight, toned” anything. And sometimes I’m OK with that, despite the fact that so much of the media out there tells me that I need to take care of that problem- there’s a pill/exercise/program/surgery for that. I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t seriously considered some of these options. I always imagined that when I reached my “goal weight,” I’d finally be just like all the others- skinny, tan, perfect hair, clear skin, and a fast metabolism…


I hate to tell you this, but it doesn’t ALWAYS work out that way. I’ve been told 1000+ times to lift weights so my skin will firm. To do crunches so I will finally have abs.

And I’ve tried, to no avail. To be honest, lifting weight and crunches haven’t ever been attractive to me. I’ve given them their fair shot, and they still make my workout routine on a yearly basis, but I find myself bored and unable to stick with it. I like my walking and elliptical time- and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about exercising, it’s that I MUST listen to my body/mind when I’m struggling to get into any sort of exercise. If you’re stuck, I encourage you to find what you enjoy and go with that- it’ll keep you going much stronger/longer. Some people like to torture themselves with exercise… but that’s just not for me.

I used to apologize for my routine, but I’m realizing more and more that the best thing to hear is : You’re doing it right. You are moving, so you are doing it right. Change when you’re ready, but for now love what you do and most importantly… love YOU!



Sleeping Your Way to Skinny

Sounds appealing, right?

Although mixing in a mid-day nap won’t actually make you skinny, recent research studies point out there is a definite correlation between lack of sleep and weight gain. I am sure that many of you are not frequent readers of USA Today or the Annals of Internal Medicine. So, let me share with you what they recently brought to my attention regarding sleep and weight loss.

A single sleep study was performed on seven healthy, lean, young adults and the results are astounding. After just FOUR consecutive days (Finals week ring a bell, anyone?) of being permitted to sleep approximately 4 hours a night, the fat cells’ ability to use insulin properly dropped by 30%! Consequently, the cells became insulin-sensitive, resulting in the formation of less leptin.

What does this mean? TWO KEY WORDS: Insulin and Leptin… do these words mean anything to you? You may be thinking, “Why on Earth would they?” But, what if I switched those two key words to HUNGRY and FULL?! One of insulin’s many jobs is to trigger the release of leptin in your body. Now you may not have realized this until now, but I am telling you leptin is your friend. What that wonderful little hormone does for you is flip that hungry/full switch on and off. Low levels of leptin tell your body it’s starving and increase your appetite, which is why it makes perfect sense that a decrease in leptin has an association with increase in food consumption and weight gain. So, when your stomach is roaring during your test after pulling that all-nighter even though you just treated yourself to Mickey D’s breakfast as a “reward” – it is actually your body saying, “Hey, maybe you should have gotten some sleep last night!”

What’s also important to recognize is that in addition to your body’s inability to accurately sense if you’re full due to those low leptin levels, those who are tired have an increased appetite as well as a slowed metabolism due to their lack of sleep. When combined, these effects are ultimately setting you up for a downward spiral.

So, as finals approach, shoot for 7 to 8 hours of sleep! It will not only help your ability to focus and retain information, but also assist in maintaining healthy weight and prevent you from feeling hungry all the time.

Stay tuned for upcoming tips on how to develop healthy sleeping habits in my next blog!

Fitness Myths That Just Won’t DIE!

Check out the responses from the IDEA Fitness Journal in response to some very popular myths about Fitness and Weight Loss & Management.  A very neat, short and to the point piece of information that everyone can relate to!

Fitness Myths

Love… My Body?

It’s Love Your Body week.


I remember the first time I heard of this while attending UND. I just laughed.
“Me? Love this?! Umm… OK. Let me get back to you.”

You see, I lost 130 pounds, and although a very large part of me has gone away (literally)… I still have a lot of reminders of my former self.

My skin hangs. And stretches. And it’s covered in stripes that used to be red, angrily declaring that my skin was being asked to take on more than it was capable, and are now (thankfully) a flesh color.
It’s not pretty, and most days it doesn’t make me proud.

At times I happily claim it as my “weight loss trophy.” But then there are those times when I’m with people who don’t know my story… and all I can think about is the possibility that they might think that I have really odd-shaped rolls and a very “unkempt” body.

The truth is that I go to the gym most days of the week. Exercise is such a great release and escape for me. Make no mistake- I work out! And for years people told me that if I lifted weights and did sit-ups they were SURE my skin would “bounce back.”
Well… I tried that… and it didn’t.

Option 2 was surgery to remove the excess skin. It’s a very dangerous procedure, and the thought of them slicing and dicing, and then stitching me back together like a rag doll is extremely nerve-wracking.

So. Here I sit. With my loose skin.

About a year ago, I made a conscious decision to quit weighing myself. It had become a way for me to determine my mood and the kind of day I was going to have. If the number was up, it was going to be a bad day. If the number was down, I allowed myself happiness (and an extra marshmallow or two).

I wanted to stop doing that to myself. I wanted to feel “normal.” I wanted to feel FEELINGS.

It was really hard at first, but a year later I feel much more confident in my abilities to make healthy decisions (without an electronic device as my moral compass and guide). My clothes fit just as good as they did a year ago. (In fact, I probably wear them more confidently not having to worry about the number of pounds that they are encasing.)

One of the most important changes I’m working on now is learning to Love My Body. ALL of it: accepting my “flaws” as unique bits of beauty; exercising because it feels good and gives me strength, not because I saw a bigger number than I was comfortable with and need to try harder; eating healthy foods because they taste good, not because I “screwed up” the day before; looking in the mirror and smiling at what I see.


Pardon the cliche, but life is really short. I’m 27 and often wonder when that happened (and you will figure this out the older you get, too!).
I’ve spent far too long dwelling in the negative, forgetting to appreciate what I have and what my body does for me. The truth is, it’s been awfully good to me.

How about you? Do you want to cut yourself some slack and Love Your Body? Do you make healthy choices because you Love Your Body? 


Written by: Katie Olson

Would you rather spend a few more minutes sleeping than wake up in time for breakfast?  It might be time to change your habits.  Eating breakfast can actually help you manage your weight.  When you sleep your body goes into a fasting state, which is why we call it “breakFAST.” When your body goes into a fasting state your metabolism slows down and your body tries to conserve the stores of nutrients that it has previously stored.  Eating a healthy breakfast will help jump start your metabolism and give your body and brain energy to get going for the day. Being in college, it is important for your brain to have energy for your full day of classes and studying.  This will help you stay awake and focused throughout the day, which for some students is hard to do.  It is also important to have a balanced breakfast.  Having a source of carbohydrate, protein and possibly a fruit is ideal.  Having a variety will help you stay full and satisfied until it is time for lunch.  Some examples of a balanced breakfast are listed below.


-          Oatmeal with Fresh Fruit and 1% Milk
–          Low Fat Greek Yogurt with Whole Grain Granola and a Banana
–          Scrambled eggs, Whole Grain Toast with Peanut Butter and a Fresh Fruit
–          Whole Grain Waffles with Nut Butter and a cut up Banana on top, and 1% Milk
–          A Whole Grain Bagel with low fat Cream Cheese or Peanut Butter and 1% Milk
–          A Whole Grain Cereal with cut up Fresh Fruit and 1% Milk

Diabetes Prevention Program

Do you want to increase your physical activity, improve your food choices, and lose 5-7% of your body weight?! If you said YES, be sure to register for the Diabetes Prevention Program!

The results are REAL. A previous participant talks about her experience with the Diabetes Prevention Program…

“As a result of reading the food labels and attempting to eat fewer than 33 fat grams per day, I lost 58 pounds. Because of the weight loss, I am no longer taking pain medication for my knee. In September 2012 my glucose was normal, so I am no longer prediabetic!” – Eileen Tronnes Nelson, UND Staff

Register soon to receive a special incentive of a $125 return from a grant and Work Well for the first 10 UND staff/faculty members who register. The upfront cost is $189, but with the return it was only $64 or $4 per week. PLUS, get your metabolism tested for free as part of the program. The program starts on January 14th, and classes are on Monday from 4:45-5:45 in the UND Wellness Center Room 121. If you are not one of the first 10 people to register, you can join the class for a price of $189.

For more information visit and click on Programs and Diabetes Prevention. To register, contact Molly Soeby at 218.230.0070.

Registration deadline is January 10th!

Freedom Perspective

I recently took a much-needed vacation with my Special Someone to a few absolutely beautiful places.

Gooseberry Falls

It got me thinking about how much my weight loss has affected my life…

When I weighed 300 pounds, I accepted failure readily:
-broken furniture was inevitable… (this also includes tipped furniture: For instance, at my birthday party in 3rd grade, I managed to flip a picnic table by sitting on one side with 3 friends on the other.)
-growing another size was inevitable… after all, if I was “meant to” lose weight, it would obviously just happenright? I believed I was destined to stay huge. And kept eating and expanding just to live up to that limiting thought.
-missing out on opportunities with friends was inevitable… I would not accept that it was perhaps because of my terribly negative attitude about life. (my family/friends would attest that I took out my frustration with life on the people around me)
-inability to participate in the “fun things” in life- like amusement parks, trampolines, go carts, bikes, swing sets, etc. was inevitable… because in my own mind, they just didn’t build things “strong enough.”
-having to shop in the same section as my teachers, parents, grand parents, and other adults was inevitable… even though they were the only clothes that would fit, there were some pretty unique options- and I could TOTALLY rock them! (I still enjoy those “fashionable/seasonal sweaters,” by the way.)

The list could go on.

Bottom line: I was willing to accept failure too easily. I had given up on the possibility of truly embracing fun, adventure, and even love in my life… all because of fear and food.

I’ve said before that there was not really a “magic moment” or shining light that led me to weight loss. I was simply fed up and willing to try something new.
Thank goodness.

My life is so much fuller now. I still have moments of fear; for instance, I struggle with climbing up on top of things because I worry that furniture or branches or ropes or rocks will still break. But I’m growing more confident in my smaller frame. And having more fun. Sometimes it feels like I’m finally living out my childhood.

Why yes; I sure did climb on top of this massive rock!

I also embrace physical challenges more. Vacations used to mean eating a ton of crap and relaxing for days on end without a care in the world… Now I get excited about little things, like climbing 173 stairs for “the perfect picture.”

You want me to… do what?! OK!

In order to accept challenge, you have to be brave.

I’m a visual learner, so I always try to relate situations to tangible things.

Now, it may seem like such a simple activity for many, but during my vacation that bravery meant having the confidence to walk across rocks in moving water.

One step at a time… out into the unknown… bravely trusting in your abilities to overcome challenges.

I moved slow and steady, but I was willing to give it a try
even if that meant falling in once in awhile.

(Which kind of sounds like other challenges… like… weight loss…?)

And that bravery doesn’t just apply while on vacations. I’m in a sports league now… ME! IN SPORTS! (This shocks my little sister to say the least.)

And I have fun!
(despite my extreme lack of natural ability).

I also have more energy to do things like that, which is a blessing in itself.

My point is simple:
Weight loss, or any other major change, isn’t easy. But it’s worth it.
No one is asking you for a miraculous overnight change.
Just give it your best shot, and remember that each day is a fresh start and a chance to improve on the day before.
It’s amazing how much your life changes when you start to believe in yourself and embrace the rewards around you.

Life is too short to sit on the sidelines.
Don’t accept defeat.

Put down the ice cream and chips… and go play! 

Dear 16-year-old Me

Have you seen this video?

I was out for a walk the other day and started to think about what I would tell my 16-year-old self.

At that point, I was tipping the scales at over 300 pounds. I was almost to the point of accepting that my only direction was to get heavier,

and heavier,

and heavier.

My wardrobe would multiply in size only because I would grow out of things. Like a growing child… except, my kind of growth was unhealthy. I was making choices that led to weight gain. Every extra pound would lead to a greater risk and a step closer to things like heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, etc… along with the effects that you don’t always want to think about: ridicule, broken furniture, decreased ability to enjoy “fun” things like amusement parks and seats in a theatre.

Luckily, I was able to gather up every ounce of strength I had, and even some I didn’t know about, and make a major lifestyle change. 2 years and 133 pound lighter, I had a new lease on life. One that I never could’ve even imagined.

So here it goes…

Dear 16-year-old Me:
First of all, you are a beautiful person. Despite what the world tries to tell you, your character will get you further than a stylish outfit. Keep working on being the best person you can to those around you… even the ones that you don’t think deserve it. You have the power to touch the hearts and minds of many, just by being who you are.

Please know that food is not your best friend. You have people in your life that love you very much and can’t wait to spend more time with you and get to know you. Let them in. Hiding in the fridge or pantry will not help you to make memories. Quality time with loved ones and taking in new experiences do that. Seize opportunities and seek out that support that you so desperately need. People are there for a reason.

You are about to embark on a HUGE new journey, but don’t worry; you are stronger than you’ll ever know. It’s scary and hard to think about making changes in your life- like choosing to refrain from eating an entire cake or going for a walk with that extra hour in your day… but you can do this.

And don’t be in such a hurry to cross the “finish line,” because it doesn’t exist. You will be working on this the rest of your life. Take your time. Soak up all of the lessons you are about to learn. Nobody is expecting perfection, and you shouldn’t either.

Be kind to you- loving yourself is the first step. And you’ve decided to treat yourself better, to make your life longer and healthier. So you’re on your way.

Ready… set… HERE WE GO!

Love and mega cheers from Your biggest fan,

Bacos are NOT meat.

Bacos are NOT a meat substitute!

This isn’t meant to be a joke. I’m dead serious. I went through a pretty significant amount of time in college believing this to be true. How did I get there? Oy-vey… where to begin?

I swear at one point in my life I was losing weight the “healthy, sensible” way. I was. As time went on, it almost became a game to keep losing- which meant that I had to find foods with the lowest amount of calories and fat (because you know, both are the devil… note: sarcasm).

With the independence of college came the ability to make all choices about what I put into my body; no longer did I have to eat sensible portions of the meals that the Mom had made featuring a healthy variety; so I figured out how to eat the BIGGEST volume of food with the LEAST amount of impact on my waistline. And, may I say… I was GOOD at it!

One of the first things I did when preparing college was buy a scale. I “needed” it to “keep me in check.” (I had self-imposed fear to stay at the weight I had worked so incredibly hard to attain.) I look back now: RED.FLAG.

I had my food patterns down to a “science.” Ooo- did I mention that I was eating COLDSTONE frequently and STILL losing weight?! Whenever people would call me out about getting “too skinny” I would throw that in their face.

Of course, that was only 1/2 the story.

If I was being truly honest with you, you’d know that I was only eating lettuce, Bacos (because I needed meat), and popcorn (because I could eat a lot for so little calories). The ice cream was my source of calcium. It all equalled a very “balanced” diet in my own mind. The best part, as I mentioned, was that I was still losing weight.

You see, for 2 years of my life, I let my happiness rest on
whether the scale went up or down.
I knew nothing else.

So… I was still “winning.”

My friends and I laughed about it. They might’ve been legitimately concerned but unsure how to approach me on it, and I was totally on the defense, you know- “laugh with me, not at me.”

Food can be just as strong as a drug. It can make you do absolutely ridiculous things. Back than, I refused to look at something like the idea of using Bacos for a meat substitute as anything but unhealthy or a bit ridiculous.

It was total and udder denial.

For the first time, I’m willing to not only admit that I had these irrational thoughts, but agree that I was incorrect in my thinking. It wasn’t healthy.

I’m starting to discover the things in life that REALLY matter. Like my character, my family, my friends, my health… NOT a +/-1 pound on the scale between 7am and 3pm in a day. Or eating less calories than yesterday. Or exercising 1/2 hour longer than last time.

know I’m not the only one who’s ever had these types of thoughts. You’re not crazy, stupid, odd, dumb, or anything else self-defeating for having them. You are just a little misinformed, and maybe a little scared (at least I was). You are also NOT trapped. And NOT alone.

You are enough.

Be brave and be honest with yourself and others.
You’re worth the truth.

And seriously, the truth WILL set you free!


Can we have a real conversation for a second?
Does this picture honestly make you want to hit the floor and start crunching your midsection?!

It makes me want to spit tacks. I stumbled on it the other night while on a very popular social media website, and my face immediately turned red with anger. It makes my heart hurt to know that women and men in our society are exposed to things like this.

I’m not ranting…
I’m writing to say that I DON’T support this.
And you shouldn’t, either.
There’s a difference between being healthy and being obsessive.

If you follow my posts, you’ll know that I lost a LOT of weight as a teen (130 pounds, give or take the year). Stuff like this NEVER motivated me. It belittled me and made me feel like no matter what I did, it was never enough.

The truth is I have loose skin on my stomach that likely never go away without the help of a surgeon’s careful hand. That means that no matter HOW many times I “hit the floor” like this crazy sticker tells me too, it will NEVER BE ENOUGH. (I will also look very silly and cause a lot of that “coffee circle gossip” if I’m constantly seen on the ground doing crunches.)

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned on my journey: You MUST accept yourself. Right where you’re at. Right now. Let your healthy mindset be fueled with positivity- you’re eating healthier and moving more because you love yourself, you want to feel better, and you want to live longer… not because you hate the person you see in the mirror or you want to look like the blonde twig that walks the runways.

I used to think that the answer to all of my problems was losing weight. That when I was a “normal” or “acceptable” size, I would automatically be happy. All the time. I would never struggle with anything, any more. Life would be perfect.

Can I be honest with you? It hasn’t gotten any easier; I’ve been faced with a whole new set of challenges. I get to make a choice between being angry and bitter or face each one with a smile and determination. I will do my best (or close) each day and be ok with where that is at. I will work to improve my health because it helps me feel better physically, mentally and emotionally.

But the amount of exercise I do, the size I wear, and the foods that I eat don’t get to be the things that define who I am.

I’m a funny girl. I am smart- I made it through ALL THAT DREADED chemistry! I am a good and loyal friend. I sensibly live within my means. I share the God-given talents that I have been blessed with as I am able. I love my job, and like to think that I give it my best and do well. I try to share my smile with the majority of the people I meet.

When I live this way, I feel a sense of purpose. That gives me the energy and confidence I need to (continue to) make positive and thoughtful decisions.

Do me a favor:
Stop letting things like this picture have a place in your day, your heart, or your mind.

You’re better than that.

You’re smarter than that.

You’re worth more than that.

Be healthy… not obsessive.


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