weight loss catalysts

When I first decided to lose weight, I did it for one, crystal clear reason—health. Honestly, I never really had much of an issue with my weight when it came to my confidence. Sure, I was obviously larger than the average woman, but I always felt comfortable and confident in my skin. Even though I was decidedly plus-sized, I never had any problems finding a dress that made me feel beautiful. I rarely felt out-of-place or hindered by my larger size. It was just apart of who I was, and the motivation to “feel better about myself” was never driving enough, because the truth was, I was pretty damn happy being me.

Then, I came to the sudden and abrupt realization that I was unhealthy. Not just overweight, but actually, by the numbers, unhealthy. I cleared the fog of my disillusioned mind and began to realized that my unhealthy lifestyle was not only affecting me, but also my family, my friends and most-heartbreakingly, my husband. What kind of person does that to man they love? I was slowly killing myself and he was the one that would eventually pay the painful price for it.

So I changed. At first, I thought that shedding pounds=gaining health, and so I operated under that pretense. Every time the scale would drop another number, I figured I’d gained months and months worth of healthy living. It felt good to see the tangible results of my hard work. My shrinking waistline meant that my health was growing. My confidence was growing too, but not because I had a smaller dress size, but because I was proud of tackling this demon that torments so many.

And then, at some point, between running double-digit miles and eating kale chips, I realized I wasn’t “becoming” healthy, I was healthy. Right then. Right there. It had nothing to do with my weight or size. It had everything to do with my new lifestyle. I was proud of this realization. I didn’t have to be a size six to be healthy. I could be (and am) a healthy size 16. The number on the scale didn’t define my health, it was just an indication of a larger change.

With that realization, my only motivation to lose weight—getting healthy— went right out the window. My weight loss stalled and I just basked for a few months in the glory of being a healthy 20-something. I ran, ate chocolate, hiked, drank beer, lifted weights and made healthy dinners with no other purpose than to be my awesome, healthy self. I was happy. Content that I’d “conquered” it, I continued on with the tiny thought in my head that I might like to lose more weight some day, but with the understanding that I was pretty happy where I was. And in no rush to see the scale budge.

Then, I did the Warrior Dash. It was fun, but really, really difficult. I couldn’t lift my body weight over obstacles. I struggled climbing across ropes. Did I under train? Not really, after all, I had just completed a half marathon. I was in the best shape of my life, but the truth was, that wasn’t good enough. My extra body weight literally made moving and doing what I wanted to do more difficult. And with that, I suddenly had a new weight loss catalyst. I wanted to lose weight just to make my life easier.

I want to be able to bound up a flight of stairs and roll over in bed easily. I want to do the things I want to do. Which sounds simple and obvious, but the truth is, life is just physically more taxing when you strap 50 extra pounds to your back (and tummy and legs and bum). It has nothing to do with buying smaller clothes and has everything to do with being stronger, leaner and fitter. I want to be efficient. And right now, carrying extra weight, regardless of how healthy I am, is not efficient.

So here I am, with a renewed desire to lose weight, because having an efficient body is my new weight loss catalyst.

If you are actively losing weight, what’s your weight loss catalyst?


  1. says

    I think that our bodies easily adapt to what we put them through. Even if you’re in great shape, once you try some completely different activity you are quickly humbled about your athletic abilities.

    That’s probably what happened with the warrior dash. You were very used to the ‘dashing’ portion but not so much the rope-climbing and body-weight lifting portion. I don’t think that means that you are out of shape I think that just means you have to train differently.

    I just tried out my first kickboxing class last night. I feel like I’m in pretty decent shape but that class was tough! I always find that when I try something new…and then I start a quest to conquer the new activity

    • Cassie says

      I totally agree with this! It is amazing what your body gets used to.

      That being said, I can only image that life would be physically easier with a little less weight.

      I would LOVE to take a kickboxing class!

  2. says

    You are so, so awesome Cassie. I’ve had issues with my self-image and confidence at any size, so in the beginning my motivations really were all superficial. I wanted to be smaller, be thinner, be able to shop in any store, and finally one day all the wants just turned into action (probably later than I would’ve liked, but hey, I’m there now aren’t I?) And it was only as I started losing weight that I began realizing the REAL benefits. Oh, you know, the stuff about how maybe I was veering off of the path that would lead me to diabetes and an early demise. And ohhhh right, the part where suddenly I’m actually, uh, happy? And also, what you just described. Because as much as I really am all for loving yourself at any size, having confidence and realizing that beauty isn’t one size (I mean, I know that I’ll NEVER be a size 2, and I’m okay with it!), the truth is that life *is* easier if you’re smaller. You fit into seats more comfortably. You don’t spend all your energy sucking your stomach in at the table. You don’t feel self-conscious on a night out with your boyf or hubs. And maybe that is all still superficial but it’s fact.

    I’m proud of you for recommitting! You already know what a strong, beautiful, healthy woman you are, so it’s just about finding the place where you’re happy, and life is breezy (well, as much as it can be.)

    Okay, longest comment ever. Gretchen out. :)

    • Cassie says

      Aww, thanks Gretchen! Truthfully, I think any reason to get healthy is a good thing. And I think, just like you experienced, the evolution of motivation kinda naturally happens as you get healthier and healthier. Not only is your body getting healthier, but so is that cute little big brain of yours.

  3. says

    I wish you could bottle your confidence and sell it on your web store—I would definitely buy some!

    I’ve lost close to 20 pounds over the last year. And it’s kind of strange, too, because the weight didn’t start to fall off until AFTER I had already ran my first mini. While training for my first half marathon, I still ate like my old self and even after running upwards of 75 miles each month, I wasn’t shrinking (even though I was apparently “fit”).

    Something clicked with the whole “I need to eat healthy, too” thing after my first race and I can’t remember the last time I ordered a fast food hamburger (which used to be a weekly occurrence at least). And the thing was, I just started making small changes—cut out regular soda completely, ordered better-for-you options at restaurants, snacked on fruit. Then something just clicked with my body … weight just started falling off.

    And it has been amazing! At first I was thrilled that I could fit into smaller clothes and liked the comment of, “Oh my! You look SO SKINNY!” But I think the Holy Grail of the whole weight loss thing has been looking down at my legs while I run on the trail. I don’t like to brag, but my thighs are CUT. And I’ve had thunder thighs my entire life! A healthy lifestyle has completely reshaped my body!

    And I must say, having a strong body that is capable of running miles on end or playing games of softball is a far more awesome feeling than looking like every other skinny girl on the block. I’m happy I feel more confident in how I look, but I feel even better about what my new body is capable of!

    • Cassie says

      It is so interesting, because from the inside, I don’t feel like I am that confident. I always am a little surprised when people comment on it.

      I saw my thigh reflection in the mirror the other day and I totally have nice muscle cuts and I was SO excited. So much more than anytime someone said to me “You look skinny!” or “Have you lost weight?” Who cares about that? I care about my kickass muscles!

  4. Liz says

    This entry honestly makes me want to cry (not for you, for me. You know I think you are the shizzle). Because I *wish* so hard that I could be where you are. I am so, so, SO unhappy with my weight and I am starting to truly lose hope that it can ever change.

    • Cassie says

      I know, it can be so incredibly hard. The interesting thing is, we probably aren’t even that far off as far as what the scale says.

      I know this is easier said than done, but my suggestion for you? Forget about the weight. Throw away your scale. Stop worrying about it. And instead just make a few healthier decisions each month. So for September, say you decide you want to drink 80 ounces of water a day and walk 10 miles a week. Devote the whole month to that. Then in October, add two more. In a year, you may (or may not) have lost any weight, but I can promise you you’ll feel better both physically and emotionally.


      • Liz says

        Well, I already don’t weigh myself. Because it’s too damn depressing. But I see pictures of myself and am horrified, which makes me depressed, and then I want to eat. And then I panic over that, and it’s just a vicious, vicious cycle.


        P.S. and yes, I am in therapy. :)

  5. says

    It really does have a lot to do with your training. I run frequently, do a lot of yoga, and eat healthy. I am at a good weight for my height. But recently I started taking a swim class with several other much more experienced swimmers, and BOY, I could not get three laps in without being completely exhausted and out of breath. And it’s not because I am OUT of shape, I’m just not in SWIMMING shape. haha. Talk about embarassing.

    Just make sure you find your body’s “happy place” and don’t push yourself past that. If your body is happy where it is now, then that is the place to be! :)

    • Cassie says

      I totally agree! It is so interesting how different your body needs be trained to do different activities.

      And thanks for the tip on my happy place. :) I’d like to see what it feels like to be a little bit lower. But I have no reservations about packing back on the pounds if my body isn’t happy there.

    • says

      I had an experience like this past weekend – I have been running & cycling & swimming a lot and felt like I was really making progress. Then I took a bootcamp class & felt like I was dying! While I may be in “running/cycling/swimming shape” I am NOT in “bootcamp shape”. It was certainly an eye-opening experience & hopefully something that will get me motivated again!

      I’ve been stalled after a 30lb weight loss since October now…and I still have roughly 30lbs to go before I get to my happy/goal weight. I’ve gotten into such a routine with tri training and half marathons that I forgot what “functional” fitness felt like!

  6. says

    I know exactly what you are saying. I have always been self-conscious of my size as I have gained weight. I have always wanted to lose weight for vanity reasons. I want to wear a smaller size, shop in a regular store, I want to be a smokin’ hot wife for the hubby :), but not until recently have I realized how my physical weight is making my day to life hard. It is horrible to walk up a flight of stairs and be winded, wear a dress on a hot day and get “fat lady syndrome” on your inner thighs, have to ask for a seat belt extension on a plane, and have back problems all because of the extra weight. I have recently decided health was my catalyst. I want to raise my child to love real food. I want him to choose fruit over other unhealthy options for snacks. I want to lead by example. Your blog with all of your yummy recipes is helping me to do that. Thank you.

    • Allee says

      Your thighs rubbing together is not just for fat girls, believe me! Some peoples’ pelvises are just narrower. That’s why I always wear bike shorts under dresses :-)

  7. says

    Honestly, I do want to loose weight in order to look better, and I’m ok with that. My 2nd (equally strong) catalyst is similar to yours though – I don’t feel as good as I think I should at 26. I want to be able to do cartwheels!

    • Cassie says

      I think that is totally fine! If you feel better about yourself at a lower weight, that’s fine. Just as long as your whole self-worth isn’t tied to the number on the scale (not saying yours is, I just know a lot of women struggle with that).

  8. Katie says

    I’ve never commented here before but this entry compelled me, thank you for writing it! :)

    I started trying to lose weight a few years ago and have had some success (to the tune of about 40+ pounds, down to 175). I had the same thought as you – I want to be fit and strong and awesome, therefore I need to lose weight. Let me tell you, though, if you still stay focused on the scale weight you may miss the forest for the trees. I started CrossFit back in the beginning of May and have seen AMAZING changes in my body and my abilities. I did the Warrior Dash on Windham mountain in NY a few weeks ago and was disappointed that the obstacles were too easy.

    My scale, though? Hasn’t changed. My body has – I’m down to a size 12, at 5’2 and 175lbs. I’ve got muscle definition. I can do push ups! On my toes!

    My point in sharing my experience with you is that focusing on weight loss may mean that you’re setting yourself up for disappointment when the scale doesn’t move. If you want to get better at pulling yourself over obstacles, then work on upper body strength. If you want to be lean and mean, find a weight training program that works for you (I personally love CrossFit & the New Rules of Lifting for Women, but there are plenty out there!) The scale will do whatever it wants but your body will show you and tell you when you’re strong and fierce. :)

  9. says

    This really resonates with me. I lost 50 lbs a couple of years ago, but gained 25 back over the course of two months last fall, and they have stayed with me. I hike and backpack a lot, and I can’t tell you how much harder it is to carry those extra pounds up a mountain.

    Since I gained that weight so fast, it was really noticeable to me how much it affects my life. It also made me realize how much easier everyday things will feel if I lose it again.

    • Cassie says

      It was such a smack-in-the-face the first time I realized that literally, I am making everyday life harder. It had nothing to do with being fit or healthy and everything to do with heavier things=harder to lift.

  10. says

    My weight loss catalyst the first time around was pretty much pure vanity. I didn’t consider myself unhealthy, the doctors never said anything to me about my weight, and I was very confident in who I was. The problem was, I hated being the heaviest girl in my group of friends, not by a pound or two but tens and hundreds. I wanted to lose weight to fit in with my girlfriends, to be one of the girls who got attention for her beauty, not only her outgoing personality.

    Along the way, after a great amount of success and a realization that, “hey, I like to work out!” it became about health. It wasn’t about being “as hot” as my girlfriends, it was about being my best me. The healthiest Gwen that I was capable of being. That included running a 10 mile race, and working out regularly.

    Now that I’ve regained nearly all of the weight I lost (after having run many more miles including a marathon, meeting my husband and getting married before so many of my skinny bffs) I realize that it IS all about health. I hate the idea of not being able to have a family, and not being able to keep up with that family in the future. I want to live a LONG life with my husband, and I’ve let myself slip back into a lot of unhealthy habits that I had pre-weightloss.

    I never felt shame about my body at my heaviest weight. But I do now. That is a tough place to be in and I have to get back on the wagon for my healthy future and my sanity. I’m still an outgoing, proud, confident person, but I never realized until now just how much my smaller body reinforced those positive feelings I had about myself.

    I will get that back, I’ll be healthy, and happy for life!


    • Cassie says

      It is interesting how knowledge can make you feel shameful. Now that you are in the know, you realize how bad your decisions can be. Knowledge is a great thing, but it brings an awareness that can be dangerous if you aren’t careful.


  11. phd says

    this sounds so much like me– I didn’t start this journey out of self-loathing. I started to get healthy when I fell in love with myself (all over again). Learning to take care of my body was just an extension of that.

    I’m still working towards getting to a healthier weight, but I’m really struggling to find a new source of motivation. I think the the initial excitement and novelty of SP, becoming a runner, etc really carried me through my first few pounds— but 2 years later, it’s definitely worn off!

    In my search for a new source of motivation, it’s been tempting to jump onto the body shaming bandwagon and hit the gym twice a day in search of a number on the scale or a dress size in my closet. Thanks for reminding me that it’s possible to lose weight with HEALTH as the ultimate end goal. Whatever happens next, it’ll be for my health!

    • phd says

      I should add that looking healthy and strong (w/ some beautiful muscles that remind me of all that my body can do) is high up there on my list of priorities.

  12. Shannon says

    Great piece! That you love yourself is so very wonderful!

    My catalyst was the realization that I was carrying the equivalent of over two bags of animal feed around with me everywhere I went!

    I would pour a bag of corn (50#) or lift a bag of Sweet Mix (50#), and while I did it easily enough, the thought of carrying around TWO feed bags all the time made my knees wobble!

    That was 81 pounds ago! I am trying to love myself, but this was done to make me feel better and it does! I do more and want to do even more. I’m more confident and less critical of myself, so I’m thinking that’s a step in the right direction!


    • Cassie says

      That is such an awesome way of realizing the weight! I had a similar thing when I lost weight. It took me almost 10 months to lose 30 pounds and I kept thinking how wimpy and sad that was. Then I went to buy dog food and lifted the 30 pound bag and was in total awe of how HEAVY that was. I never questioned my progress again. :)

  13. says

    Your motivation and self confidence are so empowering! I fall on the opposite side of the spectrum, generally underweight. I struggle between the desire to be healthy and fit and the expectation of others (and sometimes myself) that my 5’1″ frame should be tiny. I have spent far too many years being unhealthy to ensure that I fit a specific mold, rather than doing what felt good. Now it’s all about good food and fun exercise!

  14. says

    Hey Cassie, I appreciate what you are saying about being able to do things. When I was really young I did gymnastics and at the height of my ability I could actually do a back handspring. My catalyst moment was when I thought back to my strength as a child and realized I had not 20% of the stamina I once had. I want to feel that strength and some physical ability again.

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