Morgan LaMonica & Katelyn Heidel
It was every Tuesday/Thursday, any day, that I would see Katie, and every day, this was our greeting. Beaming up at me through her wire glasses, sporting another anime t-shirt, Katie always looked so happy to see me, despite the routine never changing. I whipped out my laptop and asked if she was alright with being recorded. “Of course, you gotta do what you gotta do.” And so it began.
At 20 years old, Katie Heidel is a life-long resident of Perryhall, MD, and a commuting English junior at Stevenson University. Over the summer of 2018 up until this particular Thursday, Katie had lost 74 pounds. “I believe I started in the end of May, a week or two before finals.” She laughed, remembering, “Summer is when I went hard with it. I was using it as an excuse to procrastinate on my papers.” She said it so casually, as if any other college student would turn to a life-bettering hobby as their first choice of procrastination.
Her weight gain had been gradual, having once been a skinny child due to her twin brother Billy and her premature birth. Katie described the slow incline. High school had been so rough that she had started Liberty University online for her senior year. “I was isolated and watched a ton of anime. With Aldi food, I was downing whole bags of chips.” I asked if she had ever tried or wanted to loose weight before. She shook her head, “I always kinda tried, but I hated it. I’m gonna do what I want. I know I am big, but I wanna eat.” Katie shrugged at me, looking sheepish, as she admitted, “I wasn’t really happy but I wanted to eat more than I wanted to be healthy. This was an area in my life that I was in complete denial.”
Her brother was extremely healthy, having a fully equipped gym in their basement, but Katie’s parents had not helped her weight gain, particularly her mom. “We would just take down bags of chips, man,” Katie remembered. “My mom is a binger, although I think probably that we fed each other.” Realizing what she had just said, Katie grinned, amending without a real apology, “No pun intended.”
When asked how she felt about her appearance prior to her weight loss, Katie looked thoughtful. “I just really didn’t think about it, but when I did, I just didn’t feel really good.” She pats her tummy in a way that makes me laugh, but her next words immediately silenced any humor. “I didn’t really get appearance-focused until my ex,” she admitted. I had asked before we had even started if I could ask about Brad. Without hesitation, she had said yes.
She and Brad had met as friends online, eventually dating. But even back when they were just friends, Katie wasn’t sure if she wanted to send him pictures so that he would know what she looked like. “What if this friend wants to know what I look like?” Katie recounts. “I didn’t like how I looked. Would I be comfortable showing him my face? I didn’t want that to define me, being overweight, I mean.” She had lost the weight for herself, not for him, but unfortunately, her appearance was the only important thing to Brad. His comments about fixing her image, despite already having lost over 50 pounds, in addition to some other concerns, led to their break up.
Katie started describing how she lost her weight, through intermittent fasting. This method of weight loss puts your body into a starvation mode by fasting like Katie did, for 16 hours, while eating her normal daily caloric amount needed in those remaining eight hours. Katie had never been a breakfast eater, so she instead broke her fast by eating around 2 p.m. “On weekends, I eat more,” Katie explained. “I normally try and eat around 1,200 (calories) a day, and I weigh myself every day.” This is to help motivate her and to learn more about how her body responds to different food. She soon started to see dramatic weight loss.
“It had only been a little over a month,” she fished into her purse and swiped through her phone. Distracted momentarily by the fact she was wearing the same leggings as the ones in the picture, she handed the phone over the table to me, grinning from ear to ear. The picture was a before and after labeled May 9th and June 25th. It was only a 10 pound difference, but you could see it, despite Katie’s protests that one couldn’t. She had been so excited at that point. “Once I got over that first 10, it just came off so consistently. I barely remember the 180s or 170s,” she realized, “or even the 160s. I remember when it got really hard to loose weight.”
Katie had been loosing her weight with diet alone, but it got to the point where she also had to incorporate exercise as well. Faking an irritation that she obviously didn’t truly feel, she joked, “I get cranky when eating right doesn’t work; that’s the only reason I fazed exercising in a little more. I can now do four regular pushups in a row,” she adds in some finger guns, shooting me before dropping her hands. “It wasn’t for Brad, it was spite for Brad, but it is a nice little added thing that I am holding onto my salt.” From Katie, it didn’t sound petty. It was just simply a victory, one for herself that her ex would never know.
At now 130 pounds with 74 pounds lost, Katie only has one regret. Holding her chest, she laughed, “My boobs are just destroyed now, man. I will probably have to get a breast lift.” When I asked how much further she will go, she considered. “I’m not entirely sure, not below 120. I am not going to exercise for shape, instead, for performance. I won’t look that much different, but I will be healthier.” She flashed a model pose. “I want to have the womanly shape. I can finally look at myself and be like ayyeee, gurl.” I considered her for a moment, as this little woman in front of me beamed, so proud of herself. As she should be.
Ayyeee, gurl, indeed.