My name is Katlyn Hartford and I’m excited to be at Genesis as their new Marketing Assistant! At 25 years old, I’ve always been an active girl. I danced for 15 years, competitively for 9, and swam for 13 years including three years on the Blue Springs South High School team. I went to Missouri State University and graduated with a BS in Marketing. I have five brothers and one sister between both my parents, two boys on my mom’s side and the rest on my dad’s side. I’ve been married to my best friend, Ian, since October 5, 2013, but we’ve been together for nine years this past April! Ian has known me through a lot of my weight struggle. He has seen me at my best and worst and he still loves me the same. My family is really important to me, especially my mom, we are very close. She has been the most honest with me throughout this whole journey. That can be good thing or it can be bad, either way, it got me to where I am here today, ready to make a difference in my life. Working with Genesis in the Overland Park Club has been very rewarding! One of my first tasks was to interview and write testimonials on members that had amazing weight loss journeys’. Their stories inspired me to start a story about my journey. It’s been a long one, and it won’t be over any time soon, but I thought that telling my story would inspire others to begin their own journey.
I have struggled with my weight for most of my life. My real struggle began when I was 11 years old and was cut from my dance team because of my weight. I wasn’t the tiny little dancer that they wanted and my world fell apart. Dance was all I knew and to be so young and have it ripped from you so soon was devastating. It took a few years to get over it, but I eventually found a wonderful studio called Wynn Twins School of Dance. They accepted me just the way I was, size didn’t matter to them. I grew as a dancer and a person with Wynn Twins and will never forget the opportunity they gave me to pursue my passion. The moments up on the stage were the most confident moments in my life. I remember getting so nervous before a dance that I’d have to hold my strap on my hat, away from my neck so I didn’t get nauseous. As soon as I stepped out on that stage, all my fear went away and I became another person. It was good to have dance in my life to help me deal with my struggles. That little girl that was cut from her dance team at such a young age was gone for a while, but she eventually came back.
I think my biggest problem is I love food! I love pasta, I love ice cream, I dip everything in ranch, and I loved Taco Bell. I have a special relationship with food. It’s different than most people think. I don’t eat my feelings, get stressed and eat, or whatever people struggle with. I truly enjoy food. I look forward to my next meal, even as I’m eating my current one. I plan my day around meals, making sure that I don’t skip one or go too long without eating. All in all this doesn’t sound too bad except for what I was eating, which I mentioned above. If only I had known the nutritional value of food and just eaten the right things, I may not even have this problem today.
My struggles with food and my weight made me feel uncomfortable in my own home. My parents divorced when I was 18 months old, growing up I lived with my Mom, Step-dad, and two brothers. My mom never struggled with weight, she was always thin and will always be thin her entire life. I’ve always felt like the biggest in the family. My younger brother, Luke, was lucky enough to get my mom’s metabolism. I thought for sure that my youngest brother, Brett, was going to be like me and struggle with his weight, but he is 14 years old now and taller and skinnier than all of us. It’s tough being the biggest in your family; you don’t feel like you fit in. One sad memory sticks out in my childhood, I was trying on my bathing suits one day and my mom walked into my room and said “Your legs are looking really big.” That was really hard to hear from someone that you look up to so much, and I constantly wonder if she’s thinking that when she sees me. She never truly understood what I was going through and constantly tried to put me on diets. They never stuck of course. I don’t blame my mom; she was only trying to help. Her body type is different than mine and what works for her is not going to work for me. Like I said, I am very close with my mom and I want her to look at me and see somebody who works hard, not somebody who let herself go.
I finally hit a breakthrough with my weight my freshman year in High School. I was dancing three days a week and during the spring season I added swim practice five nights a week. I lost a ton of weight and started building muscle. One thing that didn’t change was my eating habits, but it didn’t matter since I was burning around 2,000 calories a day during swim season. I could eat all the pasta and ice cream I wanted and we even had pasta parties before our swim meets. I was at my smallest at that point; it’s too bad I didn’t even realize it at the time. My mom even started giving me compliments and backed off when it came to my eating habits. It was the first time I was able to wear a bikini, but there was always a part of me that saw that chubby girl in middle school and I could never get over that. Even though I knew I was in good shape, I still had self-confidence issues. I was, and will always be a curvy girl that fit in sizes that were bigger than most. I tell myself every day, if only I knew how small I was then, maybe I would have tried harder to keep myself that way.
Freshman year at college, I still hadn’t gained any weight. I started consistently working out at the gym in my school and was eating right, even though I had plenty of opportunities to make bad choices. My sorority kept me active and my classes weren’t too stressful yet. I was doing well until I moved into the sorority house my sophomore year. I hate saying that was the sole reason I fell off the wagon, but it was around the time I started gaining the weight back. The food wasn’t very good quality, and we ate dinner at 5:00 in the evening. That was way too early! I was hungry again by 10:00pm and just like clockwork, I’d go out and get Taco Bell every night. It never dawned on me that this was not a good choice and I didn’t notice when I gained the weight back. I even joined a gym that year to try and stay on track, but I was eating way too much for my workouts to matter. I slowly began to go down a slippery slope that would later be very difficult to come back from.
Through the years, I started gaining more weight. I didn’t matter that I was exercising pretty consistently; I was never taught how to eat properly. I basically worked out to eat. I thought that if I worked hard and burned x amount of calories then I can eat whatever I want. In reality, my body did not know how to process all that food. After graduating college I had various jobs that didn’t allow me to stick with a meal plan. I would sometimes go for many hours without eating because I was on the sales floor without a proper break. On the days I knew I wouldn’t get to eat for a while, I would stuff myself so it would last the whole day and on the days I did get a break, chances are, I did not bring my lunch so I would eat at the food court. I was on my feet all day and when I got home, I would plop down on the couch and not move until it was time to go to bed. My feet would hurt so bad that they tingled and I did not want to be on them.
I did various diets throughout the years, Weight Watchers being one of them. It worked for a while but I was too busy to track all of my meals. When I did track my meals, I could never get the exact amount right so who knew if I truly ate the points it said I ate. After a while, I would track my points, stay under my daily points and barely use my extra weekly or workout points, but I just hit a wall and couldn’t lose any more weight. I even tried a meal plan with my sister-in-law and she told me what types of food to eat during the day. I eventually gave up on that as well because I never knew if what I was picking was truly good for me or not. I don’t think Kraft Macaroni and Cheese will ever be healthy even if it is with whole grain pasta! It was things like that that kept me from being able to stay on track. I’d always choose the wrong thing when given the choice. Between macaroni and cheese and vegetables, guess which one I picked every time? If I was having a really healthy day, I’d reward myself with some dessert. And the obvious, if I worked out that day then I didn’t need to worry about what I ate.
The worst part of this whole thing is I don’t feel as big as I am. I don’t even realize that I’m this big until I see myself in pictures and my arm seems to take up half the picture and my legs and belly take up the other half. I feel good, fit and even though I know I have curves, I don’t feel overweight. To me, people that are overweight struggle with certain things like their energy, walking up stairs, and simple daily tasks. I don’t struggle with those things; I just struggle with fitting into clothes or wearing a bikini, things that have to do with my image, not my health. It’s tough when you don’t look the way you feel. I struggle because I feel like I’m smaller than I am and it hurts when I get a reality check looking in the mirror or see pictures of myself. I have an image inside my head and I start to walk proud and then I walk by a window and it just hits me like a ton of bricks. I think to myself, “Man I don’t look good in this outfit, what was I thinking.” I’m ready to look the way I feel so I can be confident. Follow my blog for more to come…