'I ate and ate because I was afraid I would not have food': One woman’s journey to losing 115 pounds

Andie Mitchell

Wellness Wins is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.

Kayla Tuers is 5’0” tall, and currently weighs 130 pounds. In 2017, she was determined to lose weight for the sake of her health and happiness.

The Turning Point

I was always a petite child because of neglect and being the child of an alcoholic mother. I went through some trials and tribulations that rendered me homeless at the age of 13. I moved in with my boyfriend (now husband) at that time. His family had food, and they ate fast food. I was never accustomed to these things. At that point, I ate and ate because I was afraid I would not have food.

I started gaining weight when I was a junior in high school. I got pregnant that summer when I was 16. I lost my baby weight quickly after. After that, I had various periods of weight gain and loss when starting nursing school and through a fertility struggle and second pregnancy. I then started my master’s degree and began working night shift as a labor and delivery RN. I was eating fast food three to four meals a day and drinking soda.

Then, in October of 2015, my mother unexpectedly passed away. I grieved and again turned to food. In January of 2016, I was at my heaviest weight of 245 pounds. I maintained that weight until April of 2017 when I had enough. I was so tired, heavy and depressed. I learned that my thyroid levels were off the charts. I knew I needed to change.

My husband was then told that he could go on a work trip to Vegas. I wanted to go on that trip, but I was so tired of always being the fat friend. I was done. I was ready to change my life. This is where the journey really began.

Photo: Kayla Tuers
Kayla Tuers, who endured neglect as a child and homelessness at 13 years old, struggled with overeating after moving in with her boyfriend's family. (Photo: Kayla Tuers)

The Changes

I started with a 1,200 calories per day, gluten-free diet that was recommended by my primary care doctor. I then started going to spin/cycle classes four days a week. I lost 20 pounds the first month. I was more motivated than ever. I then decided to start the Couch to 5k app. I did home workouts in 2018 from a group called Boniface Fitness. They provided home or gym workouts for those who are on the go. In April 2018, I started going to Fisticuffs, which is a gym modeled after a CrossFit type gym. I continued that and the Couch to 5k app for 2018. That year, I added gluten back in, per my endocrinologist’s recommendation. In January of 2019, I started the 5k-10k app and continued at the Fisticuffs gym.

I felt amazing when I saw the numbers go lower and lower on the scale. I also felt discouraged because, despite losing the weight initially, I was still so heavy. My husband was my biggest cheerleader, reassuring me that he did see the changes even if I did not. I continued to be motivated because I had so much energy and felt so good.

Photo: Kayla Tuers
Tuers during and after her weight-loss journey. (Photo: Kayla Tuers)

The After

The emotions I have felt could fill multiple pages. I feel confident, strong and fierce. My life has changed because now I am running 5ks. I ran my first 8k in May of 2019 and my first 10k July 4 of this year. I plan to train for my first half marathon soon. I have more energy and I can do more things with my children. I have better mental health as well. I am not as miserable and depressed as the old me.

The loose skin made it harder to run or be comfortable in my own body. I had my excess skin removed in June 2018. I gained much more confidence from that procedure.

Photo: Kayla Tuers
Tuers became an avid runner. (Photo: Kayla Tuers)

The Maintenance

These days, I stay around that 1,200-1,500 calorie diet, with one cheat meal per week. I go to the same gym two to three days a week, and I run two to three days a week. I try to do about four days of exercise and three days of rest. I work 12-hour shifts, and it is very difficult to exercise on my work days.

Planning has been key to my success. I plan my meals, and I plan what days I am going to exercise. I schedule races on the weekends. I also make sure I always have one cheat meal a week. I also drink plenty of water daily for hydration. I admittedly eat a ton of the same foods — turkey, tuna, chicken, veggies, rice, Greek yogurt, and low-fat string cheese — to keep it easy.

I am motivated by my before and after pictures. I am motivated because I know I beat the old Kayla. I am a stronger, more confident woman now. I am inspired by the many people who reach out to me on social media for my help. I would love to have my own business to train and help others make the changes that I have made. For now, I will continue to help online the best way that I can.

The Struggles

I sometimes struggle to squeeze everything in. I work 12-hour shifts, I have a 10-year-old and a five-year-old, a husband, and all of the exercise and household duties. I struggle to always get everything in. I am glad to be at a maintainable weight to have wiggle room as far as my lifestyle changes go.

Advice

This may all sound cheesy, but the biggest piece of advice that I have is to stop with the excuses. I have so many people who give me a million reasons why they cannot lose weight. I used to be one of those people. However, if you truly want to lose weight you can and you will. The next piece of advice is that every journey is different — my journey is not the same as yours. Lastly, don’t give up! I know it is hard. It really stinks to see others munch down on cheese fries when you’re having grilled chicken, rice and asparagus. However, in the long run, the way I feel now is worth more than any delicious meal.

Need more inspiration? Read about our other wellness winners!

Wellness Wins is authored by Andie Mitchell, who underwent a transformative, 135-pound weight loss of her own.

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