The Power of Strength over "Skinny"

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Written by Katie Carver Johnson

I was not born with genetics inclined to help me stay skinny with ease. After I passed through my early twenties, this reality set in and it was scary to think about how hard I was going to have to work the rest of my life to stay healthy and lean. After I had our daughter last spring and still had an extra 20 pounds to show for it five months later, I was even more down about my body. I worked out in some form almost every single day for months and didn’t shed a pound. Some days I would work out twice! HIIT, yoga, barre, weight lifting, running, walking, kickboxing, boot camp-style classes, you name it… it was in my routine and it wasn’t making my body lose weight.

Of course, my diet wasn’t doing my exercising efforts any favors. My husband and I would go out to eat numerous times per week. At home, a lot of our meals came from the freezer and when they didn’t, dinner was usually comprised of oversized portions, starchy sides, and few vegetables. At the time, I really didn’t even know how big of a deal my nutritional choices were for the way I looked and felt. Additionally, my sweet tooth was hard to rein in. My favorite treat is ice cream and I adore chocolate in all forms and variations from white to dark. Eventually, I got to a point where I literally would ridicule myself for being so weak about food. Internally, I would put myself down for not being strong enough to say “no!” I started to think I’d never be able to get it under control.

It wasn’t until I started seeing the results of some of my friends from the first round of Body Back that

FIT4MOM Louisville offered that I started to get really energized and hopeful again. I signed up immediately when the next session opened ….literally! I could NOT wait to get started.


My Assessment Photos [Courtesy of Fit4Mom Louisville]

For those of you that haven’t heard of this amazing 8-week program, it’s a process designed for moms [but could work for any woman] to get their body back through intense workouts [both independent and with your group], a nutritional plan including recipes, one-on-one guidance from a coach, and support from the rest of the participants. This program is so special. So many of the roadblocks moms face when it comes to transforming their bodies are overcome through all of the resources and tools Body Back offers. I’ve seen it – in my life and the lives of others. Whether it was physical injuries, out of control eating, lack of time, unsupportive spouses, insecurities, lack of sleep due to little ones, lack of accountability, addiction to sugar, overwhelming temptation – Body Back had something to combat all of the struggles and excuses to give up.

I started the journey wanting to get skinny. Even though the first homework from our coach was to come up with goals for our session that dug deeper than the number on the scale, my weight was all I really cared about in the beginning. I had no idea what else I was going to get out of the experience.

I ended up losing 14.4 pounds and 11 inches during the 8 weeks! My endurance and ability to complete various exercises greatly improved as well. For example, I started out able to hold a plank for 85 seconds and ended the program able to hold one for 130 seconds. I could do 27 squats in a minute in week 1 and could do 36 in week 8. I would never call one of our coach’s workouts easy but by the end of the program, some of the exercises that I hated in the first few weeks became much easier to complete [even if I still hated them].

Our coach continually reminded us not to focus on the scale. After all, it couldn’t measure the better quality of sleep I was getting. It couldn’t measure the feeling of putting on an old pair of jeans and realizing they fit! It couldn’t measure the compliments from friends and family. It couldn’t measure the quality of the relationships I developed with the other mamas in the program with me. It couldn’t measure the money we saved by not eating out all the time. It couldn’t measure the value of the nutritional knowledge I gained. A scale can’t measure the impact of the example you set for your kids when you take care of yourself.

My goal from the get-go was to reach my pre-pregnancy weight and I did that thanks to Body Back. I’m signing up for the next session too and this round, my goals will be different thanks to the perspective I gained from my first experience. Being skinnier certainly feels good BUT feeling stronger feels way better. I learned that our bodies are physically capable of so much more than our minds would like to allow us to believe. Heck… I should have already known that. I did have a baby after all.

One of my fellow Body Back mamas (shout out Katie Case) told us one of her reasons for doing the program was so her daughter would one day look up to her for her strength and not her body size. The beauty of being part of a village like the one FIT4MOM offers is that there’s always someone there to help you when you need it… even if it’s just to give you some perspective. Sometimes as moms we don’t even realize or want to admit how much help we need. The camaraderie among the moms at Body Back was one of the most unexpected but powerful sources of encouragement and strength I encountered during the 8 weeks. Every mom had their own story and struggles but everyone supported each other through our differences and similarities.

Katie may have set her goals with her daughter in mind but she unknowingly impacted mine too. I now appreciate the value of making healthier choices for myself and my family. I see the difference eating real food makes. I feel strong and weighing less is just a bonus. When my daughter is in the phase of life I am today, I hope she is too strong worry about being skinny.