Katie Fought Depression With Exercise — and Lost 137 Pounds

Katie Hug hit a breaking point with her physical and mental health when she hit 270 pounds and couldn't get out of her depression.

Katie: Before

Katie Hug

While on a dozen antidepression and antianxiety medications — just to get through the day — Katie's weight had crept up and up. At one point, she asked her doctor not to tell her how much she weighed during checkups, but her doctor eventually expressed concern for her health. It wasn't just a few pounds she needed to lose — her life was at risk.

Fast forward to today: she's lost 137 pounds, she's cut all "addictions" from her life (from sugary sodas to bad relationships and even all 12 antidepression and antianxiety medications), and she's even inspired her husband and three children to fall in love with fitness . . . as a personal trainer. But she didn't get here without a lot of work; here's a little insight into her journey.

POPSUGAR: What made you decide to start your weight-loss journey?

Katie Hug: I was at a doctors appointment and she expressed to me her concerns with my weight. She said that I was in the morbidly obese category. I finally realized that if I wanted to change, I had to do the work. I was struggling with depression at the time, and I was ready to make changes in my life to get healthier and happier! [My weight gain came from] depression, anxiety, poor eating habits, food addiction, medication dependency, and lack of motivation.

"I eliminated unhealthy relationships from my life and started exercising. It was one of the hardest times of my life, but it turned me into who I am today."

I was very intimidated by the gym atmosphere, so I started short workout videos at home, started walking, and used MyFitnessPal to track my food. I was finally aware of how much I was eating, and I started making healthier choices.

PS: Can you tell us a little more about your struggle with addiction?

KH: My addiction issues started with medications as a young adult. I grew up with unhealthy relationships but was not aware that they were unhealthy until I started counseling. I overate as a way to cope. I fought all three by reaching out, asking for help, and being willing to change. I spent time in detox getting off all the medications, and started therapy. All of the suggestions that my therapist had, whether I liked them or not, I did them. I eliminated unhealthy relationships from my life and started exercising. It was one of the hardest times of my life, but it turned me into who I am today.

PS: What's your favorite way to work out?

KH: I love group training, and outdoor exercise! I love yoga for relaxation, and the stair climber for cardio.

Katie: After

Katie Hug

PS: What's your weekly exercise schedule?

KH: Three days a week of strength training, four to five days a week of cardio.

PS: How do you keep workouts exciting?

KH: I switch things up! I also started an Instagram page, and I love to see what other workouts friends are doing and encourage as many people as possible. Helping other people helps me as well, and working as an American Council on Exercise personal trainer helps me stay on track and motivates my own workouts.

Katie: After

Katie Hug

PS: What was the first big difference, other than the number on the scale, that really made you feel proud and excited?

KH: Finding muscles I didn't know I had! I remember how excited I was to see my calf muscle! That and wrapping a towel all the way around my body . . . and having room to spare!

PS: How do you track your weight loss?

KH: On MyFitnessPal.

PS: What's a typical day of meals and snacks?

KH: Protein pancakes, chicken breast, broccoli, bell peppers, cottage cheese, blueberries, spinach salads, and almonds.

PS: Do you count calories?

KH: Yes, but I don't stress about them. If I'm a little under or over, that's OK. I like to focus more on my protein levels, water consumption, and make sure I am getting enough veggies in. [I eat about] 1,400-ish.

Katie: Before and After

Katie Hug

PS: What are the healthy staples that are always in your fridge?

KH: Cottage cheese, bell peppers, eggs, turkey bacon, broccoli, egg whites.

"You need support when making a huge life change. If you don't have it, find it."

PS: Do you use a fitness tracker? Which one, and how do you think it helped you?

KH: I have a few! I love my Polar watch for my workouts to see calories burned. I also use a Fitbit to track steps, sleep, etc. The trackers help keep you motivated, and I highly suggest getting one that works for you.

PS: What made you decide to become a personal trainer?

KH: I love helping people, and I have experience with being overweight. I know what it feels like to be uncomfortable in your own skin, and I want to help others achieve their health and happiness goals. Getting my certification with the American Council on Exercise was the perfect opportunity for me to do just that.

PS: What or who played the biggest role in your journey?

KH: Support is key. My husband was my biggest cheerleader and helped me stay on track. I have an amazing tribe of ladies at the gym who are always there when I need them, too. You need support when making a huge life change. If you don't have it, find it. Reach out and make new friends, find a support group, etc.

PS: What advice do you have for anyone starting out on a weight-loss journey?

KH: Consistency is key. Don't quit when things get hard . . . find that fire inside and keep going. Consider hiring an ACE personal trainer if you need the help getting started. Start tracking your food — every day. Track all the bad stuff, too. It will make you more aware of what you are eating. Cut out processed sugar. Drink lots of water, and keep your protein up. Most importantly . . . be patient and trust the process. It will not happen overnight. It takes time and consistency . . . and you CAN do anything you set your mind too.