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Counting calories helped this bride-to-be lose 63 pounds: 'I feel more happy and confident'

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  • Katie Smith
    American basketball player and coach

Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.

Katie Smith is 26, 5’8” tall, and currently weighs 157 pounds. In 2017, after getting engaged, she was determined to look her best for her wedding. This is her weight loss story.

The turning point

I can’t pinpoint exactly when I first noticed my weight being an issue. At some point during college I really started to hate the way I looked in pictures, and it just progressively got worse and worse. Looking back I cannot believe I let myself get that bad!

Katie Smith (Photo: Courtesy Katie Smith)
Katie Smith (Photo: Courtesy Katie Smith)

Right after my husband proposed in November of last year, I knew I needed to make some serious changes. Have you seen how much wedding photographers cost? No way was I going to pay that much money for photographs to remember the most important day in my life and hate the way I looked in all of them.

Katie with a friend on their graduation day. (Photo: Courtesy Katie Smith)
Katie with a friend on their graduation day. (Photo: Courtesy Katie Smith)

The changes

In January, I got serious about weight loss. I started doing beach-body workouts on every one of my days off (I work as a nurse doing three 12-hour shifts per week) and attempted to eat healthier. I lost 5 pounds in January. At the end of January I purchased the book Thinner Leaner Stronger by Michael Matthews, and holy crap did it put things in perspective. My previous idea of “eating healthy” was to drink a V8 juice with my breakfast (probably a 250-calorie glass) and substitute brown rice in my Chipotle bowl.

After reading the book I calculated my Total Daily Energy Expenditure and determined the appropriate number of calories I should be eating each day to lose weight. I started calorie counting with the app MyFitnessPal. It was hard at first, and I eased myself into it. By the end of February I was accounting for every bite of food I put in my mouth. I lost 9 pounds in February. Somewhere along the way I switched to working the night shift (7 p.m.-7 a.m.) and lost all motivation for working out. By continuing to strictly count calories I lost 10 pounds in both March and April, and 7 pounds each month from June to August.

Some days I felt great, some days I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere. The best app I downloaded was the HappyScale app. I’m a numbers person, so I recorded my weights daily. HappyScale includes the “moving average” of your weight, so even if it took me a week to lose the 3 pounds of water weight gained after a Fourth of July BBQ, my moving average continued to decline. It really helped me to push past the number on the scale and keep doing what I was doing to lose the weight I wanted to.

The after

Seeing my wedding pictures and feeling joy (versus regret over the way I looked) made this whole process completely worth it! I feel more happy and confident. Whether I’m going out with friends or on a date with my husband, I get dressed and feel good about myself! Before I would try on everything in my closet, then spend 10 minutes crying because I felt huge and ugly in everything before finally deciding on an outfit. Now the most frustrating thing is picking out a perfect outfit only to find it’s way too big.

Shopping for clothes is fun again! Previously I would hope to find an outfit I liked in an XL, try it on, and hope that it didn’t make me feel like a stuffed sausage. Stores stock way more medium clothes than XL. Not only can I find my size, but I feel good in clothes!

I can also cross my legs much more easily when I sit with my legs under tables, and surprisingly I’m much less clumsy than I was previously!

Katie in the lead-up to her wedding. (Photo: Courtesy Katie Smith)
Katie in the lead-up to her wedding. (Photo: Courtesy Katie Smith)

The maintenance

We just got back from our honeymoon. During the vacation I switched my calorie goal to maintenance and very lazily counted my meals. I’ve been back for a few days, and I am transitioning back to weight-loss numbers and getting stricter with my counting (I still have a little more weight I’d like to lose). Between that and doing some yoga here and there I’ll be back on my downward track!

I’ve switched to using mustard instead of ketchup as my condiment of choice. Ketchup has more sugar and calories, while mustard is basically calorie-free! I prepack all my meals and snacks for the week. Not only do I save money by eating out less, but I stay satisfied at work because I have so many snacks for when I get busy and only have time for a quick bite!

I also got out of the habit of drinking after work. After a three-day stretch I would come home and have a few beers or a couple glasses of wine. Working the night shift makes me feel hung over when I transition back to a normal schedule but add some alcohol onto that and I would feel utterly useless on my first day off. Because I didn’t have room for 400 calories of alcohol at the end of the day, I’ve cut that out and feel much more productive. Every once in a while I’ll have a drink when I get home but in much more moderation than before.

Honestly the progress I’ve made so far is what keeps me motivated. Counting calories has become second nature at this point. I’ve found some go-to meals and snacks and am constantly looking for something new to add to my rotation. I’ve made so much progress so far that I’ve lost way more weight than I thought I was going to, and I know I can do the rest if I keep working!

The struggles

I get frustrated when I splurge on a night out and see a gain of a couple of pounds on the scale. I know people say to stay off the scale and judge by how your clothes fit, but I’m a numbers person. Realistically I know it’s physically impossible for me to have gained two pounds in one day and that it’s mostly all water weight, but that doesn’t mean it’s not frustrating! To get myself past it I just keep on trucking! I remind myself that as long as I keep eating healthy, the water weight will work itself off quickly and I’ll be back on my normal path in just a few days.


1. Buy a food scale. It will make your counting so much more accurate.
2. Don’t drink your calories.
3. If you’re going to eat out, try to stick to chain restaurants. They tend to have more accurate calorie counts online, and some even print them on their menu.
4. Pack your meals/snacks for the day and pre-log all of it the night before! I log my breakfast, lunch, and snacks the night before work, and it makes it so much easier throughout the day.

YOU CAN DO IT! I promise. You can. If I can, you can. It seems hard, it seems like so much work, and everyone and their mother has a ton of excuses why calorie counting didn’t work for them. I work overnight. I was under a tremendous amount of stress planning our wedding. I moved to a new city where it’s fun to go out and try new restaurants! And I was still able to lose weight. If I can count calories, you can too!

Need more inspiration? Read about our other weight-loss winners!

Weight-Loss Win is authored by Andie Mitchell, who underwent a transformative, 135-pound weight loss of her own.

Have a weight-loss win or beauty story to share? We want to hear it! Tell us at YStyleBeauty@yahoo.com.

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