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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year, New Body: Kate's Transformation Story


Kate trying on evening dresses just for fun at a consignment store in Grand Haven--something she was never able to really enjoy doing before her surgery. 

Kate is a mom, a wife, a director at an assisted living center, a musician, and also a close friend of mine! Like most of us, Kate is hoping that 2014 brings her family happiness and blessings, but she's also starting off the new year with a big bang: a brand new body.

Unbelievably, within the last 2 years, Kate has lost more pounds than she currently weighs! In 2011, she underwent a Duodenal Switch weight loss surgery at 320 lbs. Concerned for her future health and ready to make a change, Kate began her journey, and after reaching a healthy BMI and stabilizing her weight, she embarked on her final procedure: a skin removal surgery to remove the extra skin around her tummy and show her new, slim waistline.  


Kate found lots of great items to try on from Lakeshore Rescue Mission Thrift; 
from pencil skirts to vintage shoes! 

Kate's story has been an open book for family and friends to read; she has been very transparent with her transformation. As the final stage of her metamorphosis unfolded, I invited Kate on a shopping trip to Lakeshore Rescue Mission Thrift in Grand Haven, Michigan, and asked her to share her story on the blog in the form of an interview. 

Kate's hope for readers is to shed some light on why she chose weight loss surgery, what she's learned along the way and of course--what her new style looks like! My hope for all of you reading at home is that you can share in Kate's joy and her choice to make a positive physical change for health. Many people have a hard time understanding weight loss surgery, and what I've learned as a friend supporting another friend is that it wasn't really "easy" at all--there were many ups and downs along the way. 

Ultimately, no matter what you weigh, I hope that your goal for 2014 is to love yourself, care for yourself, and try to be the best version of yourself possible--and that has absolutely nothing to do with the scale!

Check out the interview below and click through the image gallery I've created to see Kate's beautiful outfit shoot! 


KATE'S NEW OUTFIT: 100% thrifted from Lakeshore Rescue Mission Thrift in Grand Haven, Michigan! Vintage peach blouse (love the detailing on the back collar!), adorable green statement necklace, plum pencil skirt, and vintage shoes!


What kind of a role did body image and expectations play in your formative years? 

I was never in a position in life where I beat myself up over my body, I knew I felt uncomfortable with it and I was attempting to hide it. As a young child and into my mid teens I was never considered “Obese” I was just bigger than the other kids. I noticed it when I was in 5th grade, sitting on the bench at the pool with all my classmates.. I noticed then and there that they did not have the girth that I had. I will never forget that moment.

During that time, how did your concepts of self influence how you dressed? 

I was incredibly active in my youth and the effect my body had was on my ability to fit into what the other girls were wearing in terms of uniforms. Back then they did not make “big girl” clothes!
I had to wear boys clothes for sports. I knew I was different from a very young age. I wore what fit. Period. It did not matter how I felt about it, I had to clothe myself.

How do you think that your body image affected your life paths, emotionally or otherwise?

The struggle I felt and can clearly look back on is being taken seriously. I was never treated poorly by anyone, never teased, never left out and never a lack of male attention later in teenage and early adulthood years. I was incredibly fortunate to have been instilled with a personality and drive that kept my forward momentum going and the people in my life and the individuals I a have come across now tell me they never “saw” me as obese, they just saw Katie. It was a considerable struggle to get serious and follow through with anything due to my weight, my knees, my back and my energy. I always was an upbeat, good-natured, large personality with a lot to offer to any relationship or simply a conversation in the check out lane. My confidence never faltered. I never experienced deep dark times due to weight. I was one of the lucky ones. There was no eating disorder...sure, I gorged on Oreos once when I was 8.. like the whole bag! Yep, I had seconds… much like everyone else sitting at the table.

When did you make the decision to have weight loss surgery and why?

I started looking into is about 5 years before I had it. I exhausted the research options until I was satisfied and comfortable with my decision. I knew it was time when I simply felt like an observer of life rather than a participator. I had a young daughter that I wanted to play with, set a good example for and ride roller coasters with! On several occasions someone in a planning phase of an outing would say to me “Is that something you are comfortable doing?” in reference to my ability to function through pain and low energy. I knew then it was time to change as I was directly affecting others lives now too. I was 32 when I had my surgery in May of 2011 at a high weight of 320 pounds. Today I have lost more than I now weigh and am in the normal BMI range for the first time since I was 12.

What advice can you give to other people who are considering the surgery? 

There comes a time where we say enough is enough, if this were breast cancer, I would take a cure available.. my weight was also deadly, my obesity would have killed me eventually. I was done trying over and over and in the meantime hurting my body, my self esteem, watching life happen around me while I sat dodging the high blood pressure, diabetes bullet.  Smart people have these life changing surgeries, active people, healthy people, sick people. It is ok.
I have had one person ask me if I feel like I “took the easy way out” …. My answer “If curing the disease that would have killed me without CONSTANT diet and exercise (of which statistics are not good) is the easy way out? Then so be it.. I did what needed to be done medically that was available to save my life.

How has weight loss surgery changed your life? 

Wow, where do I begin… I have lost 167 pounds. I feel like I am taken seriously in life, I do not have to work to convince people that I am intelligent, that I have ideas, which I will follow through with. My performance in life and work alone is now enough to prove my worth. I have accelerated in position to a high level executive with a national certification in my field. I quit smoking, I run, I rode a roller coaster with my daughter, I ski again…… I could go on, or you could imagine doing what you dream about and that is your own personal answer to how this could change your life too.

How would you describe your sense of self and body image now, and how has that impacted the way you dress and shop?

Shopping for clothing now is pretty overwhelming, previously the Plus size section was drab, low choice.. fat girls must not like anything stylish because you just cannot find it for a decent price. Yes there are plenty of options as we sit here today…have you seen the prices??

What are your favorite styles of dress, and how do you prefer to shop for clothes? What dressing/shopping challenges have you encountered over the course of your transformation?

Walking into a department store pretty much makes my head spin with options, where do I start? What do I like? What looks great on me and is within my style? WAIT?? What is my style? I have always known what I liked, had many Pinterest boards for what I like..but do they really fit my life? My likes, my personality? This has been a major wake up call for me to really dig in, get into my head, pay attention to my body and appreciate it in its healthy state. We all view healthy in different ways.. from feeling svelte, sexy, thin, happy, content… and yep, it feels darn good to have clothing that simply fits and looks good, not digging into my skin, cutting off the circulation to my lower extremities when I sit down. I still cry sometimes looking back at the struggle I dealt with for so long. It is still painful and I still weep out of sadness for that girl. Now I weep for others in that situation. I hope they can find the way to help themselves, do the research, find a way to make it happen.. and most importantly be ok with it!

What is the one clothing item you have a hard time resisting at the thrift store? 

One? Really? Just one? Shoes… Because my feet fit the cute ones now!

What is the most valuable "golden nugget" of knowledge you have gleaned from your journey regarding happiness, health and positive attitude towards your physical self? 

Support. Find support, seek it. I have never been a “support group” kind of gal, however, there are many online resources, groups, forums, data, information and people with experience that are more than willing to guide you.. use it. Not all friends and family will be supportive, they are scared, they have never been obese..they have NO CLUE what it is like to be you. Find people that do support you and do not trip over your own feet trying to convince those that are not supportive. Share your research with them and let them decide. But lean on the folks that are happy for you. The others will come around.. I promise!


  1. I suppose I should put a note in here on the Surgeon the gifted surgeon that allowed me the opportunity to get my life back. His name is Dr. Paul Kemmeter. He runs a program in Grand Rapids by the name of Grand Health Partners. He has several surgeons as partners and my plastics surgeon is also located in the same practice. I could not have done this without those surgeons and that group of dedicated, compassionate staff.


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