The Picture of Perseverance: Katie Brimhall’s Incredible At-Home Transformation Story

If there is one quality that stands out far above the rest in this amazing woman, it’s perseverance. Holy cow you guys, Katie was given every opportunity to quit throughout her journey, and I guarantee not one person would have thought less of her if she would have—but she didn’t. Katie was one of our incredible peeps chosen to be on Season 6 of Extreme Weight Loss. Ya know, that season that never happened? Despite that MAJOR setback, Katie took everything she learned during casting week and dove right in. She joined a CrossFit gym, signed up for races, and plunged right into the process. Chris and I were lucky enough to keep in pretty close contact with her throughout the first year, as well as have her to our home for some weigh-ins, and we were constantly impressed by her. 

Fast forward a little more, and Katie was thrown another incredibly difficult curveball—a painful diagnosis requiring brain surgery. Again, almost anyone else would have used this as a reason to quit, but she didn’t. She persevered and continued on her weight loss journey and met her goal. Katie, you are one truly remarkable woman, and Chris and I feel so extremely lucky to know you. In her own words, here’s Katie’s story…

I started my weight loss journey 2 ½ years ago. On January 1, 2015, I made a New Year’s Resolution to lose 100 pounds by the end of the year. Little did I know just how much making that resolution would transform my life. 

I’ve always been a little overweight. I was teased a lot growing up and always struggled to feel like I fit in. And like a lot of overweight people, especially with an abusive childhood, I turned to food to comfort me. It never got too out of control because I was pretty active with dance, color guard, school musicals, and show choir during my teenage years, but I was always very much aware of the fact that I was the chubby girl.

I was lucky enough to fall in love with an amazing man who sees my true beauty no matter what size I am—even when I can’t see it for myself. We’ve been married almost 10 years now and have two amazing boys. I struggled with yo-yo diets, especially after having my babies, and I never really lost all of the baby weight. I was so close to getting my weight under 200 pounds again when my youngest son was diagnosed with stage two Wilm’s Tumor (kidney cancer) at the age of 2. All thoughts of myself and my weight loss went completely out the window, and my life became all about helping him survive his cancer. For the next 6 months, we were in survival mode. Living off of hospital cafeteria food, take out, and eating my overwhelming and stressed out emotions really took a toll on my weight, and I ended up gaining about 60 pounds. I was heavy and uncomfortable and didn’t realize just how big I had let myself get until about a year later when I shaved my head with a group of fellow cancer moms to raise money for childhood cancer research. I could no longer hide my chubby cheeks with my hair, and I knew I needed to lose weight and get myself healthy, but I didn’t know how.

I remember watching Chris and Heidi’s show, Extreme Weight Loss, and feeling so inspired and motivated….as I sat on my couch with my bowl of ice cream bawling my eyes out because I just didn’t know where to even start. I loved that Chris and Heidi worked on transforming the minds and the bodies of their clients and that these people were able to get down to the bottom of why they had gained the weight in the first place. I was so inspired that I got up off of my couch, went to my computer, and immediately started looking up how I could apply to be on the show. I was so bummed to find out that casting for the next season had already been closed—I had missed my chance! But I wasn’t ready to give up that easily. I got onto Pinterest and started pinning ideas for healthy meals and workouts, and I did a great job of making really organized boards full of healthy ideas, but that’s all I did. 

Finally, weighing 265 pounds on New Year’s Day 2015, I started taking action. I ordered the 21-Day Fix plan by Beachbody and started cutting back calories and learning a little about portion control. I started working out to the DVDs and actually lost about 10 pounds on my own. Then I got stuck. It just seemed to be so hard to eat healthy and workout, and I really, really wanted to eat cheeseburgers and pizza and still have the weight fall off. I found out that Extreme Weight Loss was open for casting, so I filled out my online application, sent in my video, and crossed my fingers. Within days, I received an email to the open casting call in Salt Lake City. At the casting call, I met Bruce Pitcher, who had been on the previous season. Somehow I had missed Bruce’s episode, so when I got home that day, I looked up his episode and watched it while I anxiously waited to be called back by the casting director. Bruce’s episode was life changing for me. He so bravely faced his past of childhood sexual abuse and lost a record-breaking amount of weight. I cried through his entire episode because of how much I related to him and his struggles and because of how moved I was by his complete transformation. I decided then and there that if he could do it, so could I! I did get that call back from the casting director, and I kept moving on through each phase of casting. I was in shock that these people believed in me so much more than I believed in myself, and I wasn’t going to take that for granted. 

I arrived at the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center in Denver for final casting week with hope in my heart and a lot of spandex in my suitcase. I was so ready for this! They weighed us in (I was at 255 pounds), and they immediately started us on our healthy meal plans and workouts. We were assigned roommates during our stay, and I will forever be so grateful to the people that assigned Erica Summers to be my roommate. She instantly became like a sister to me, and we have been each other’s accountability buddies, and as Heidi would call—it “Super Friends,” ever since. We cheer each other on, set goals, and make promises together, and we get real with each other when we start slipping. If you don’t have a “Super Friend” for your journey, I highly recommend finding one!

I cried like a baby after our interviews with the ABC executives when the producers told me I made it past the first week of finals week, would be staying for the second week, and would possibly be chosen for the show. I was feeling so grateful for the opportunity I had been given and for all of these people who believed in me so much, and I didn’t want to let them down. After my second week, I headed home to put all of the knowledge, tools, and training I had gained to work in my real life. A producer and a camera crew spent the day at my house a few days later to film some shots of me at home with my family and to interview them. And over the next few weeks, I worked my butt off (literally) and waited to see if Chris Powell would be showing up to surprise me and tell me I was officially picked for the show. But that never happened. 

We had a conference call a few weeks later with Chris and Heidi and some of the producers where we were told that our season wasn’t going to be picked up by ABC—the show was canceled. I was heartbroken! I had to get real with myself and remember why I really wanted to be on the show in the first place. Yes, it would have been amazing to share my journey with the world and inspire other survivors of childhood sexual abuse to overcome their past and live a healthy life. And I was really sad about the fact that I wouldn’t get the mental and emotional help the show would have offered me. But I had been given all of the tools and knowledge I needed to lose the weight when I was at finals week in Colorado, and I wasn’t going to let anything stop me now. My “why” was strong! I wanted to lose this weight for myself and for my family. Yes, I wanted to look good in a bikini, become a runner, and fit into smaller clothes, but the real reasons I wanted to lose the weight were because I wanted to feel healthy and feel good about myself, and I wanted to be around long enough to see my boys grow up and be married and have kids of their own. And I wanted to be a better mom—one healthy enough to run and play with my boys. And I really wanted to make sure that if my son ever relapsed, that I would be there to take care of him and help him fight his cancer again. Thankfully, he is still in remission and living a healthy and normal life. 

Those first few weeks of carb cycling and working out for two hours every day were really hard, but it was working—the weight was just melting away! I started out barely able to do a modified burpee, unable to jog more than 30 seconds at a time, and I was sore everywhere. And I took steps that had intimated me in the past: I joined a CrossFit gym, signed up for my first race—a 5k fundraiser for local children fighting cancer, and even signed up to do a Spartan race, which was 7 hours of the physically hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I wanted to give up so many times that day, but I kept telling myself that if my son could fight cancer, I could finish this race. This became my mantra for the rest of my journey: If my son can fight cancer, I can lose this weight and get healthy. 

Chris and Heidi stuck with us for the entire year. They told us they had signed up FOR US for the year and not just for the show—that really goes to show how incredible these two are. They invited us to come to their home in Arizona every few months for weigh ins, just like we would have done for the show, and it was a great opportunity to get together with my friends to train and work out together. We continue to support each other in our journeys, and they have become like family to me.

During the fall of 2015, I got a call from one of the casting directors from Extreme Weight Loss asking me if I would be interested in doing a weight loss challenge with my husband for The Steve Harvey Show. Of course, I said yes, and before I knew it, my husband and I were flying out to Chicago to film the first of the two episodes. Those few weeks doing that challenge with my husband were so great! We helped each other stick to the diet and get our workouts in and even got our boys excited to work out with us. And for the first time in my life, I ran an entire hour without stopping to walk. I couldn’t believe what my body was finally capable of doing! My husband lost 32 pounds, and I lost 27 pounds in just those few short weeks. Our experience on The Steve Harvey Show was such a fun one that I’ll always remember.

I didn’t hit my 100-pound weight loss goal by the end of 2015, but I was so proud of all of my hard work. I had lost a substantial amount of weight, and I had actually started to believe in myself for the first time in my life. I wasn’t about to quit. And I finally scheduled an appointment with a psychologist to work on ridding myself of my emotional weight. 

In June of 2016, Chris and Heidi gifted us a ticket to a seminar called The Landmark Forum, where I had my biggest emotional breakthroughs. I was finally able to free myself of my abusive past and see myself for the amazing and powerful woman that I am—not the shy, worthless, and broken victim I had always thought myself to be. Ridding myself of all of that emotional baggage boosted my weight loss, and I was able to shed another 15 pounds in just two weeks. It’s so true that if you work on your mind, the body will follow. 

In November of 2016, I was diagnosed with a rare disease called Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN), which is the most painful condition known to medical science. This diagnosis threw me for a loop, especially after learning that I needed a type of brain surgery to possibly “fix” me. I was unable to work out due to the intense pain I would experience in my face, but I stuck to my nutrition the best I could and was able to maintain throughout the holidays. On May 18th, I had a type of brain surgery called Microvascular Decompression in California. I’m actually doing really, really well, and my TN is mostly gone. The surgery has an 18-month recovery time, but my recovery is going faster than expected, and I think it’s because I kept up with my nutrition and exercised as much as I could—even though it was very painful—until my surgery. Most people who have this surgery have a really hard time walking afterwards, but the morning after my surgery, I was already walking normally again. Slow, but normal. I still struggle with balance sometimes, but it’s getting better each day.

In January of this year, I got to be a beta tester for Chris and Heidi’s new app, and the app helped me finally reach my 100-pound weight loss goal! It really helped me dial in my nutrition and find workouts I could do that didn’t trigger my TN while I was waiting to have surgery. I still have another 10 pounds to go until I reach my goal weight (I’ve now lost 110 lbs!!!), and I know I’ll reach it soon with their app. What’s my next goal? To focus on sculpting and shaping my body AND get back to regularly running and lifting weights after my post-op appointment in August.

 It has been a roller coaster of a journey these last 2 ½ years, but I am so grateful to those who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I’m so grateful for the amazing opportunities I’ve had and for the incredible friends I’ve made along the way. Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way, and I hope they can help others on their transformation journeys:

  • Find your tribe. Finding a tribe of supporters who love me no matter what has been my saving grace.
  • Find an amazing “Super Friend” who will get real with you when all you want to do is eat cheeseburgers, pizza, and take out and lie on the couch watching Netflix all day.
  • Be patient with yourself and the process! You didn’t put all of the weight on overnight, so it’s going to take time to work it off.
  • Nutrition is key! I’ve injured myself more times than I’d like to admit, been sick, and have even been diagnosed with a rare disease that kept me from working out for a while, but I stuck with my nutrition and was still able to reach my goals.
  • Get back up when you fall. You’re going to fall down sometimes, and it’s easy to beat yourself up and just want to give up. But each time I fell, I picked myself up and got back at it again. The only time you actually fail is when you stop trying, and if I can do it, so can you!
  • Keep your promises to yourself. Being cast for a weight loss show that ended up being cancelled would have been the perfect excuse to give up and go back to my old habits, but I had made a promise to myself, and I finally started seeing that I was worth keeping my promises to myself. YOU ARE WORTH IT! Become a promise keeper and don’t give up when things get hard!
  • Choose your hard. Meal prepping is hard. Exercising every day is hard. Losing weight is hard! But so is being fat and uncomfortable and barely able to breathe when walking up the stairs. I am going to keep my new healthy lifestyle. THIS is the hard I CHOOSE!

Thank you so much, Katie, for sharing your amazing story with us. I know you’ve overcome so much throughout your transformation journey, and you didn’t let anything stop you. You, my dear friend, are an inspiration to all of us!

Are you on your own transformation journey! Choose one of Katie’s tips, make and keep that promise to yourself, and do it today! You can do this!

Xoxo,

Heidi

Related reading:

Our Transformation Mantras + Top Tips for Success
Transformation Tuesday: The Amazing & Inspiring Jennifer!
Record-Breaking At-Home Transformation || Jacqueline’s Story
From Victim to Victorious: Jo’s Picture of Transformation
Transformation Tuesday: The Incredible Kari!
4 Kitchen Must-Haves for Transformation Success


9 Comments

  1. Brittney Marschall - August 9, 2017

    What an AMAZING transformation story and a true testament to the work of the Powell Tribe! xoxo ~myrochesterhealthandfitness.com

  2. Diane Gies - August 4, 2017

    Wow! Thank you Thank you Thank you ! Katie your story brought me to my knees ….
    Heidi and Chris, thank you for creating this platform so that people can share there stories which ultimately changes other people’s lives ❤

    As a mother of 2 beautiful souls I too have struggled all my life with weight, never fully understanding the “why” behind it. I was raised in an abusive home where my voice never really mattered. I didn’t know any different nor did I know just how much my story would catch up to me as an adult.

    I didn’t trust people , and lived a life where I was never emotionally available to anyone, subsequently marrying someone I really wasn’t fully there for. Before even celebrating our first anniversary our baby boy came into this world, 8 weeks premature with a congenital heart disease. We were told he wasn’t going to make it. That put a further wedge in my marriage which only pushed my husband away further. I was broken and he didn’t know what to do. I get it. But as a result I once again felt like that rejected little girl that was abused at the age of 4 … not worthy of love. Not having a voice that mattered. I plugged away and as you said , stayed in survival mode for years as my son battled for his life. Food became a comfort. My weight served as a protection from the outside world. It reminded me that I really wasn’t worthy. Sadly my husband didn’t know how to cope and having his own insecurities he turned to another woman. I get it. I didn’t blame (well I did, but realized it wasn’t getting me anywhere ). I did however silently hurt. I didn’t tell anyone. I wanted to keep the status quo for my kids sake. One thing my husband and I did have in common was that our children were our everything … and we wanted to give them “the perfect home life”. Which we did. Sadly I internalized everything – living this pretend life was was exhausting. Years passed and my weight (and emotional health ) was spiralling out of control. I still spoke to no one about it. I put on a brave face and set out to be the best mom I could be and give my kids the life I never had. The weight confused to pile on.
    7 years ago we received a call telling us that they found my stepson dead in his vehicle from self inflicted wounds. That was when my world came to a screeching halt. My foundation crumbled beneath me. I once again went into survival mode and started binge eating. Internalizing everything and speaking to no one.
    A year had passed and I decided to face my paradigms head on and ended up losing 50 pounds on my own. It was time to look after me.
    As I sit here typing (5 years after my weight loss) I am up 15 pounds and struggling. I read your post today (and a few others written by Heidi – Love Sarah Nicole btw! So blessed to personally know her ❤) and I had an “ah-ha” moment. I realized that I need to go back and find that little girl before she was broken, and honour her. Until I do that, my battle with weight will be a forever issue, never truly believing that I’m worth it. So thank you to the both of you !!! I believe that the universe has its way of bringing people into our life at the exact moment we need them. In the past I would NEVER reply to a post but today I had an overwhelming need to do so. Not gonna lie, feel’n pretty good now. Lol
    Thank you for randomly becoming a part of my journey and ultimately shifting my life – feeling blessed ❤

    • Michelle - August 18, 2017

      If you need encouragement I’m here. I’m on my own weightloss journey and would love to reach out!

  3. Joan Wood - July 26, 2017

    Katie you are amazing! Reading your story has inspired me so much. I thank you for sharing your journey. Your transformation is awesome! I also love your tip “choosing your hard”. I am following the Transform App and am loving every part of it. Am definitely going to remind myself of this tip on days that are rough! Wishing you and your family all the best and thank you again for sharing your inspiring story! ❤️

  4. Kaleigh Brown - July 26, 2017

    Love this! Heidi and Chris are such inspirations for helping and motivating others 💜😍 will forever miss their show.

  5. Kimberley Umpleby - July 26, 2017

    What an amazing story. Thank you for sharing. The tip of “choosing your hard” is fantastic. I’d never thought of it like that but you are right. Being overweight, uncomfortable, out of breath, unable to manage everyday tasks that others take for granted is hard! I wish you lots of luck and happiness for your healthy, fitter future. Congratulations. X

  6. Rah - July 26, 2017

    Huge thank you and hugs for sharing your journey! What an amazing person. ❤

  7. Rebecca Shoemaker - July 25, 2017

    You are such an inspiration Katie! I have started my wt loss journey many times. I am back at it with the Transform App. I love that your persistence brought you to where you are? If you can do it, I can do it. Thank you for being vulnerable and may God bless you and your family!

    • Katie Brimhall - July 25, 2017

      Thank you so much for your sweet words. I’m so glad you are back to reaching for your goals! I l ow the transform app can help. Stick with it and you’ll see amazing results. Best of luck to you!

Leave a reply

Open

Close