FROM "FAT FRIEND" TO NUTRITION COACH
Meet Coach Whitney:
the newest member of the KLN Team
I was always the “fat friend” growing up; not in the way that people were mean to me about my weight (at least not very often), but in the way that I could never dream of borrowing clothes from my friends. My junior prom dress was a size 18 and as a teen my pants size was was bigger than my mom’s.
I always felt generally bad about my body, but never enough to really do anything about it. My parents tried to encourage good eating habits, but I ate a lot of snacks and drank a lot of sugary soda. I didn’t exercise at all and never participated in sports. I moved from Idaho to Utah for college and gained 20 pounds really quickly during my first year in school. As a result, I got new stretch marks on my stomach. I remember being horrified the first time I saw them, bright red and angry looking.
I didn’t even own a scale at that point in my life, and I was blissfully ignorant about my poor health until a trip to a doctor’s office informed me how much I weighed: 215 pounds. At 5’7, that placed me squarely in the “obese” category on the BMI chart. It wasn’t really any wonder: I was eating pop tarts for breakfast, fast food for lunch, an entire large sized box of Milk Duds for a snack, and ramen for dinner. I walked to all of my classes on campus, but that was the extent of my exercise.
At the end of December of that year (2006), I decided to make a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight - a lot of it. I wrote down that I wanted to weigh 145 pounds, even though that sounded impossible. I started a full week before the New Year - I bought books about weight loss and I started counting my calories. This was before the time of food tracking apps, so I carried around a little paper journal. For the first time in my life, I really thought about what I was eating. I learned to cook and started buying fresh fruits and vegetables. I still ate candy and sweets, but they became a treat instead of a daily habit. My energy levels were more consistent through the day, and I slowly became happier and more appreciative of my body along the way.
It took me almost three years to reach my eventual goal weight of 145 pounds. Even at that point I didn’t feel like my body was perfect, and I wasn’t at my healthiest because I wasn’t exercising. But I had fundamentally changed the way I felt about food and the way I felt about my body. I had made it to my goal weight before ever developing an exercise habit, and I learned that you can accomplish a lot through solely nutrition and persistence.
However, I really believe I would have achieved my goal a lot sooner and also much healthier and with a lot more quality muscle if I had had a coach or someone to guide me, and if I had taken up lifting weights along the way.
Since reaching my initial goal, I’ve learned that the weight on the scale is a moving target and not really the best indicator. I’ve been able to gain weight (on purpose!) to get stronger and improve my body’s shape. I don’t stress out about buying clothes anymore and I have a much healthier relationship with food.
When I went back to school taking a break for a couple of years, I changed my major to Community Health Education so that I could focus my studies on nutrition and weight management research. My now-husband (then-boyfriend) took up Olympic weightlifting and turned to me for help putting on muscle without changing weight classes. I was able to use my knowledge of performance nutrition to help him stay in his weight class while still putting on muscle and improving his lifts over the past five years.
If you had told me in my teens or twenties that I would be in the best shape of my life in my thirties and just continually getting better, I would have laughed at you. If you’d have told me that I would be coaching others about nutrition, I would have laughed even harder. But here I am. I love my body. I love nutrition. And I love helping others work toward their goals, whether they be aesthetic, performance-driven, or just aimed at being healthier and happier.