Katie Bolden's weight-loss transformation can only be described as remarkable. (OK, and maybe a few other words like "amazing" and "insanely inspiring," too.) In just three and a half years, she managed to naturally drop a whopping 150 pounds, shedding half of her overall bodyweight and gaining some muscle in the process.
We caught up with Katie, now 31, to learn more about how she got the impressive job done, and we walked away with plenty of tips and motivation for slimming down. Read on to learn more about her incredible journey from 280 to 130 pounds, and be sure to get even more behind-the-scenes details on her aptly named personal blog, Huff 'n Puff to Buff 'n Tough.
Time For a Change
Before diving into her weight-loss journey, Katie struggled through a host of health complications. She was diagnosed with angina, a type of chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart, and told by doctors that she was "on the verge of a heart attack in the near future" if she didn't address her weight issues. In 2010, she received a diagnosis for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a chronic condition that causes ovaries to enlarge and grow multiple small cysts on their surfaces. Two years later, Katie's doctors gave her a prediagnosis for multiple sclerosis (MS) after dealing with a series of neurological issues, including going temporarily blind in one eye.
"My dreams of being a mother were being threatened. I knew it was time to change."
Needless to say, her weight was taking a toll on her health, and it all came to a head when Katie began struggling with infertility. "The thought of possibly not becoming a mother was a terribly painful one," she told POPSUGAR, adding that the "possible reality" of losing her ability to walk, run, and see due to MS "scared and shook [her] to [her] core."
In February 2013, Katie weighed in at 280 pounds, and she began altering her food and exercise habits to get on track with her health, once and for all. A year and a half later — in September 2014, to be exact — she welcomed a baby girl into the world, which motivated her even more to continue her journey toward a slimmer waistline and fitter lifestyle.
Her Diet Swaps
Right off the bat, Katie started following the 80/20 rule, which she describes as "80-percent clean eating and 20-percent sweet, treats, and cheats." Allowing herself to enjoy her favorite foods every now and then was crucial to her weight-loss success, she told us. "I felt like I was way more successful on my journey without restrictions versus putting a ton of restrictions on myself like I have in past attempts with weight loss."
"I felt like I was way more successful on my journey without restrictions versus putting a ton of restrictions on myself like I have in past attempts with weight loss."
She began by having one cheat meal each week and eventually worked up to indulging in them only one to two times per month, sometimes more depending on her mood or the occasion. "I started noticing the fact that I didn't want cheat meals as often anymore and saw better results only having them one to two times a month," Katie told us.
In addition to following 80/20, Katie counted her calories and macros, using the MyFitnessPal app to record her food and keep portion sizes in check. "I started cutting back on a lot of the sugar and fast food that I was eating," she told us, adding that her diet was "mostly high protein, low fat, and moderate carbs." Nowadays, Katie eats five to six times each day every two to three hours.
Newfound Exercise Habits
Katie truly didn't hold back when throwing herself into the world of exercise. She started by working out four to five days each week, focusing on both cardio and weightlifting and following online workouts and DVDs. "For cardio, I started running, or attempting to run anyways," she said, adding that she "couldn't run for more than 30 seconds, sometimes less." She was also swimming, hiking, and doing some plyometrics for cardio. She maintained a pretty genius mindset when it came to her exercise plan: she mixed activities she truly enjoyed doing (like swimming and hiking) with ones she didn't necessarily enjoy (like running and weightlifting). That sounds like a solid balance to us!
Now that Katie has lost the weight, she switches up her workouts depending on what her current goals are, whether it's maintaining, strength building, or losing fat. If she's simply trying to maintain, she works out four to six days each week, doing moderate to heavy weightlifting each of those days and cardio for three to five of those days per week.
Strutting Her Stuff on Stage
Katie's young daughter was certainly a big factor that motivated her to push through her weight-loss trials, but there was another factor at play: her desire to partake in a bodybuilding competition. The idea to do so came to her while hiking with her husband. "I had been so proud of myself for how far I had come in just a few short months," she recalled. "I said to my husband, half joking and half serious, 'Do you think that I could ever do a fitness competition one day and possibly even win?' He told me that if I worked hard, then yeah, [I] could do it."
In Spring 2017, after dropping 150 pounds, she did the damn thing when she participated in a World Beauty Fitness & Fashion bodybuilding competition. The best part? She won first place in the transformation division, all while proudly putting her post-weight-loss loose skin on display. Look at her shine!
"Although I don't wish or choose to live with [my excess skin] forever, I am rocking the hell out of it for as long as I am forced to wear it."
In 2018, Katie has plans to do a few contests in the body transformation category before having her excess skin removed once she gets the funds to do so. But for now, she's pretty content with how her body looks. "Although I don't wish or choose to live with [my excess skin] forever, I am rocking the hell out of it for as long as I am forced to wear it," she said. "I wear it with pride until it is time to part ways!" How's that for your daily dose of body positivity?
Words of Wisdom
Of course, we couldn't help but ask Katie to offer up advice for anyone looking to similarly transform their bodies like she did, and she explained how it's important to create "fun goals that have nothing to do with the numbers on the scale or losing a certain amount of weight within a certain time frame." On top of that, persistence is truly key. "A little self-belief and telling yourself that you will get there eventually no matter how long it takes will take you very far on this journey! And always remembering that not every day will be perfect, even when you are years into the journey." Write that on a sticky note, and don't forget it!